Today in History:

178 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas

Page 178 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.

NEW YORK, March 31, 1862.

To the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War:

On the statement of Major-General Patterson, submitted by him as evidence to the honorable the Committee of the House of Representatives on the Conduct of the War, I beg leave to remark-

1. That his statement, 148 long pages, closely and indistinctly written, has been before me about forty-eight hours, including a Sundday when I was too much indisposed to work or to go to church; that I cannot write or read at night, nor at any time except by short efforts, and that I have been entirely without help.

2. That, consequently, I have read but little of the statement and voluminous documents appended, and have but about two hours left for comments on that little.

3. The documents (mainly correspondence between General Patterson and myself) are badly copied, being hardly intelligible in some places from the omission and change of words.

4. General Patterson was never ordered by me, as he seems to allege, to attack the enemy without a probability of success, but on several occasions he wrote as if he were assured of victory. For example, June 12 he says he is "resolved to conquer, and will risk nothing;" and July 4, expecting supplies the next day, he adds, as soon as they "arrive I shall advance to Winchester, to drive the enemy from that place." Accordingly, he issued orders for the movement on the 8th; next called a council of war, and stood fast at Martinsburg.

5. But although General Patterson was never specifically ordered to attack the enemy, he was certainly told and expected, even if with inferior numbers, to hold the rebel army in his front on the alert, and to prevent it from re-enforcing Manassas Junction by means of threatening maneuvers and demonstrations-results often obtained in war with half numbers.

6. After a time General P. moved upon Bunker Hill, and then fell off upon Charlestown, whence he seems to have made no other demonstration that did not look like a retreat out of Virginia. From that movement Johnston was at liberty to join Beauregard with any part of the army of Winchester.

7. General P. alludes with feeling to my recall from him back to Washington, after the enemy had evacuated Harper's Ferry, of certain troops sent to enable him to take place; but the recall was necessary to prevent the Government and capital from falling into the enemy's hands. His inactivity, however, from that cause need not have been more than temporary, for he was soon re-enforced up to at least the enemy's maximum number in the Winchester Valley, without leading to a battle or even a reconnaissance in force.

8. He also often called for batteries and rifled cannon beyond our capacity to supply at the moment, and so in respect to regular troops, one or more regiments. He might as well have asked for a brigade of elephants. Till some time later we had for the defense of the Government in its capital but a few companies of regular foot and horse, and not half the number of troops, including all descriptions, if the enemy had chosen to attack us.

9. As connected with this subject, I hope I may be permitted to notice the charge made against me on the floors of Congress, that I did not stop Brigadier-General McDowell's movement upon Manassas Junction after I had been informed of the re-enforcement sent thither from Winchester, though urged to do so by one or more members of the Cabinet.

Page 178 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.