Today in History:

175 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas



Numbers 34.
Harper's Ferry, Va., July 25, 1861.

By virtue of orders received from the War Department, Major General N. P. Banks hereby assumes command of this department.

By order of General Banks:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

PHILADELPHIA, PA., November 1, 1861.

Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War, Washington:

SIR: Believing to the present moment that, on account of other persons, a public examination not the manner in which the affairs of the Department of Pennsylvania while under my command were conducted, and that the publication of the correspondence with and orders to me of the General-in-Chief, especially connected with the late campaign in Maryland and Virginia, might be detrimental to the interests of the service, I have refrained from asking for an investigation or permission to publish the orders by which I was controlled. The same reason has caused me studiously to avoid verbal statements on the subject in reply to numerous inquiries.

Charges have been publicly made through the press and the impression created that the design of the campaign was not carried out by me, but rather deranged by my neglect or violation of orders. Intimations against my loyalty have been insidiously circulated. From the silence of my immediate commander I infer he does not design to relieve me from the odium attached to these reports and rumors. While I am willing, if the general good demand it, to suffer personally, and am desirous that no course on my part shall prove injurious to public interest, yet I believe the time has arrived when the question as to the manner in which I executed the duties intrusted to me may be safely investigated, so that the failure to accomplish certain results never anticipated, so that the failure to accomplish certain results never anticipated of my command by the General-in-Chief, until he saw his defeat, may be ascribed to the real cause. Further silence, therefore, on my part would confirm the impression that I plead guilty to the charges that have been made against my honor, my loyalty, and my military capacity. I have a right at least to be relived from the position in which my long silence, caused solely by an earnest desire for the success of our cause, has left me.

In presenting this my application for a court of inquiry, or permission to publish my correspondence with the General-in-Chief, I claim and am ready to substantiate-

1st. That if the General-in-Chief ever designed my command to enter upon the soil of Virginia with prospects of success, he destroyed my power when greatest, and when that of the enemy was weakest, by recalling to Washington, after they had crossed the Potomac, all my regular troops, with the Rhode Island regiment and battery, leaving me but a single company of cavalry, which had not then been one month service, and entirely destitute to artillery.

2nd. That the General-in-Chief forbade my advance, and compelled me to recall to Maryland all the troops which, confident of success, had crossed the Potomac into Virginia in execution of a plan which had been submitted to him and had received his cordial approbation.

3rd. That for a long time the General-in-Chief kept my command in a crippled condition, and demanded my advance after he had withdrawn