Slike strani
PDF
ePub

anyt

makes quite a stir as to the appointment of the twelve major generals.” That would then give them twenty-four brigades, or ninety-six regiments. Their regiments are about as strong as ours, and that would give them a force, perhaps, of 75,000 men. That undoubtedly is the greatest number they have at Centreville. They have a corps on the Occoquan, and we also know they have a corps at Aquia with the batteries there. They also have a small force, some 5,000 men, at Leesburg. What number they have back at Manassas is purely a matter of conjecture. Altogether, I should think this might give them a force of 130,000 men. I know it has been said by some that they probably had a force of some 200,000 or 210,000 men; but I do not think so. I know the dfficulties we have encountered in getting our force here. What our force is I do not know; but I do not think it is 200,000.

Question. I do not see how they can get more than we have, with much less population to draw from?

Answer. They have two advantages over us. Public opinion there is so intense, their hatred to us is so violent, that they can take measures which we cannot take. They have practically a system of conscription there. They do not pay railroads or manufacturers ything Their paper currency answers their purpose quite as well as gold and silver answers ours, for everybody is forced to take it, and they thus get what they want with it. The people there are obliged to go into the ranks, for there is a far greater degree of pressure upon them at the south than there is upon us at the north; they cannot stay at home. At the north it is voluntary; there they cannot help themselves.

Question. That is so. But their ability to supply their men with food, clothing, transportation, &c., is less than ours?

Answer. There never was an army in the world that began to be supplied as well as ours is. I believe a French army of half the size of ours could be supplied with what we waste. The amount of waste is fearful. I am ashamed of the amount of scolding I have to do on the subject of the waste of bread. I have seen loaves of bread thrown away that had not even been broken open. Our men will not use it if it is a little stale. I have begged them not to draw it, if they cannot eat it. They get large pay, and when the sutlers come around with their pies, tarts, and cakes, the men stuff themselves with those things and waste the rations drawn from the government. It is a waste that comes out of the country at large. But I believe we ought to supply twice the force we do with what it costs us to supply this force.

Question. Now about the cavalry. That is a very expensive arm of the service, and of course we must retrench wherever we can without impairing at all the efficiency of the arıy. Now what amount of cavalry do you suppose we can make use of in this army of the Potomac to advantage ?

Answer. We have twelve regiments, I think. I think that is an abundance with the condition of the army; and then there is the cavalry of reserve; I do not know how much there is of that. I should think that a brigade of cavalry might answer all the purposes of reserve. I should think that fourteen or sixteen regiments altogether would be sufficient here. I do not know how much we have here.

Question. I do not suppose we have that amount of cavalry? Answer. Yes, sir, we have. I have one regiment in my division, and I am told that all the other divisions have a regiment each, and there are twelve divisions; and I know there are regiments in reserve. Question. Then I understand

you

think
you

have not more than you need here?

Answer. I think we might do with less than that. I think that I might perhaps have done with two-thirds of the amount of cavalry I have. But then the nominal amount of cavalry is so much greater than the actual.

Question. Some have thought that in view of the unevenness of the ground

that you

here, the wooded nature of the country, &c., we could not use so much cavalry to advantage, and we desired to know if there was more than was needed in order to retrench?

Answer. Cavalry regiments are of six squadrons each, and there are two squadrons to a brigade. That amount might be diminished. We are now organized by divisions. If we were to be organized by corps of three divisions each, two regiments of cavalry would be perfectly sufficient for the three divisions.

By Mr. Johnson:
Question. How many divisions have you?

Answer. We have eight on the other side of the river, and then there are here three others formed, and one now in process of formation. There are twelve divisions right around Washington, besides the divisions of General Banks and General Dix; and then there is a division of regulars besides; or rather they intend to make one, if they can get it up, I believe.

By the chairman : Question. If no advance is contemplated until spring, is there any way to clear this river of the batteries of the enemy?

Answer. I do not know. I cannot say. I do not know what batteries there are below here, how they are placed, what their strength is, or what naval preparations we have. The best way to get at them would be to break their line in the centre. If we could force our way across Occoquan, it seems to me that all that matter must terminate of itself.

Question. If you get all the country in rear of their batteries, of course, they must go.

Answer. I do not mean to say quite that. What I mean to say is, that that is my remedy for all the difficulties.

Question. I find, so far as we have investigated, that there is great uncertainty as to the position of the enemy, the amount of their force, and the strength and extent of their fortifications.

Answer. They are so far off that we cannot tell much about them. If we were closer to them we could tell more about them They are off at Centreville, and if you send out a small party, the chances are that it will be cut up by some party of the enemy three times its size, which would have a bad effect upon the morale of the men. It makes it hazardous to send out a party. I am always anxious when I send out a party for forage until they return, for I cannot tell what they may meet with on their way, as the country is all covered with woods, and they are continually liable to be surprised.

Question. Is there any remedy for that unless we do come closer to them?

Answer. I do not know of any. The only remedy I know is to get closer to them.

Question. Of course, all war is more or less hazardous. But we are in a condition now where we must stir ourselves, on account of the expense.

Answer. It must be horrible.

Question. It is awful; and we are endeavoring to see if there is any way in God's world to get rid of the capital besieged, while Europe is looking down upon us as almost a conquered people.

Answer. I appreciate that. I have always thought, and have so said among my friends, that in the month of December we could operate. I did not think to be here Christmas. I thought that before New Year's we should have cracked this thing in front of us. I hope you will appreciate one thing. I am not in a condition to know their force. But their force being admitted to be equal to ours, we are much the superior in position. And I do not think the winter an insuperable obstacle to our operating in front here.

Question. But you do not favor this expedition by water up the York river, to Richmond ?

Answer. I think it is too late in the day for that. We would have to go to work now and make all our preparations for it. It is a thing to begin a thing of this kind without getting everything on hand to overcome every obstacle that you can reasonably foresee to the accomplishment of your expedition. Suppose you make a landing with your forces there. The very moment you do that, if you have not the means to go forward at once to Richmond, and commence the siege of that place, they will get around you, just as they have in our expedition below, and as they did over here. We did here the very worst thing we could do ; that is, to go over there and sit down without advancing at all. The very moment we did that they brought up their forces, and we had to fight a battle, which we lost. If we start to Richmond, we must be prepared to move on there at once after we land, with everything necessary to prosecute the siege. We must be prepared to take their batteries, which I am satisfied they have on the river, for they know the value of them. We must be prepared to build and stock a railroad from our landing place across to Richmond, to carry forward the material necessary to besiege Richmond. That is one of the good things we ought to have done before this time.

Question. It does seem to me that you military gentlemen would do well to compare opinions upon these matters. I do not believe but what you ought to have a council of war, and each one make his suggestions. So it seems to me from what I have been able to find out. I understand you to say that you have had casual conversations with the commander-in-chief.

Answer. Yes, sir. A great while ago, and he agreed with me then. I submitted a plan to do this in September, if not in August.

By Mr. Chandler: Question. What has there been to prevent our building these wood roads upon your plan of advance at any time during the last two months ?

Answer. I am told that it was a question of force. My impression is that that is the reason given, for there is no question about one thing, that our position is better than theirs strategetically. A line of thirty miles over such ground as that, full of hills and ravines, is a long one.

By the chairman : Question. And with the forces comparatively the same, it would have been better two months ago than it is now?

Answer. Yes, sir, all other things being equal. Considering our position at Alexandria, they occupy a circle on the outside, of which we have the centre. It is plain upon its face that we have the position. Now if we go and take a position in front of them, behind which we can mask our movements, they cannot tell where we are going to strike.

Question. In other words, we have the inside track," as they say ?

Answer. I was going to use that very expression. I occupied just such a position at Centreville last summer. Centreville is a central point to Blackburn's ford, and other fords, so that the opposite general did not know whether I was going here or there. If we should move forward now, we could supply the large bulk of our army by railroad from Alexandria, as we do now.

Now by fortifying our approaches to their line, and being in as large force as they are, if we break their lines in any place we can then throw a large force upon either portion of them. If in approaching we come under fire, we must dig a trench and throw up the earth so as to keep off the shot. Go forward a certain distance and make a parallel, then go forward again and make another parallel, and so approach the enemy. I do not propose to go out and give them battle, as we did last July, but to throw out columns to Vienna, and Fairfax Court-House, and Fairfax Station, and some place on the Occoquan. The country is a tangled country, but there is plenty of wood, and 10,000 men with 10,000 axes is a great force. People ask how would you haul your wood? I would not haul it. I would take horses and drag it in, and lay it down upon the mud, and that would give us a road you could supply your army upon. If the roads are so bad they cannot move across our front with artillery. And if we once get across Wolf River shoals and down to Brentville, then we will have Occoquan on our side.

Question. Our troops are better adapted to that kind of work than theirs, that is one thing

Answer. That is what I have always said. Our people can and will work, and theirs can't and won't work. And the very minute that we get below Wolf River shoals we have a stream that we can use against them. And if we get down to Brentville the whole thing is ended. I propose to make works at Vienna, not extensive, but sufficient to protect the end of our communication by railroad in that direction. Then have them out at Germantown and Fairfax Station, and then we can see what they are about. We cannot do that here.

By Mr. Johnson: Question. Now in reference to this expedition up York or James river, to go upon Richmond that way, what I want to know is this: would it not be as well to risk a battle here with our force in front of Washington as to risk it on an expedition to reach Richmond in that way? Answer. I think so. If you risk a battle here

you
have

your fortifications to fall back upon when necessary. It would have been a good thing to have done the other some time ago.

Question. Do you think it a sound policy for the army at this time to move forward, or would it be better for it to remain inactive until spring ?

Answer. I had always supposed that we were going to make a move. When persons have told me that we were going into winter quarters, I have always said that we could not afford it. General Washington made a fearful march in the dead of winter, up the Delaware, crossed it, and went down to Trenton and fought a little battle, and came back again. It gave him a great deal of credit. It is true one half of his men died—not from shots, but from exposure. Yet it was that crossing of the Delaware that gave us prestige abroad—that helped us. It seems to me that we cannot afford to stay still.

Question. There is a political element connected with this war which must not be overlooked ?

Answer. Yes, sir; and a financial one, too. I have always thought this, and I think so still; and I believe it is the opinion of the general-in-chief-though I have not said a word to him about it for several weeks—that we could not afford to lay still for a long winter; that the winter was better for us than the spring. We could not do it financially, or with reference to home politics or foreign polities. We could not do it in reference to the feeling down south, in Kentucky and Virginia. How many Union men who were warm ones became cold ones, and cold ones became secessionists by the reverses of the 21st of July, no one can tell.

By the chairman: Question. You have already said, I believe, that it would have been easier to have made this advance at first than now ?

Answer. Yes, sir. We have had beautiful weather up to this time. But I do not know how we are, how we are prepared. We seem to be in a sort of an equilibrium. I do not know when it will be thought that we are sufficiently preponderating to move. In my opinion, when we are equal we should seek to bring on a battle; for, if we are equal we are in the best position.

Now, the proposed York river movement, as compared to the one here. There is nothing more difficult in the world than to make a landing upon a coast that is defended. I look upon that landing at Port Royal as hardly to be hoped for. I thanked God that I was not upon that expedition through that storm, &c. I think we were very fortunate in making a successful landing there. And I do not know why something was not done besides what was done. I know it is a very difficult and hazardous thing to land a large expedition upon a coast defended by batteries. York river ought to be pretty well defended by this time. It has been talked about for six months. I know they have a large force there, and a quantity of heavy guns and fortifications there. You will have a very heavy obstacle to encounter if you go against those heavy guns there. Suppose you have done that, cleaned out all the batteries on York river, and made your landing there. In the first place it is like cleaning out the batteries on the Potomac below here. You might as well do that as the other, if you can do the other.

Question. One military gentleman said he supposed you could turn those batteries at the head of York river.

Answer. You may be able to do that, but it would be a difficult undertaking, and one that would involve a great deal of risk. (Illustrating by the map.) There is West Point, from which there is a railroad to Richmond, twenty-five miles distant. Now, to get there you must clean out all the batteries on York river below there. If you can do that, you better clean out the batteries on the Potomac; for, if you effect a landing at Aquia creek, you have but fifteen miles to go to reach Fredericksburg, and if you have possession of Fredericksburg they are not going to remain at Manassas.

By the chairman : Question. Is the army of the Potomac organized at the present time for an advance, or is there anything furtlier that should be done; and if so, what ?

Answer. I do not think it is at present organized for an advance, or rather organized as I would have it organized, if the question were left to me to organize it for an advance.

Question Will you please explain?

Answer. The organization is quite complete so far as brigades are concerned. Each brigadier general has a sufficient staff of his own. He has his aides, his chief of orders and correspondence, the assistant adjutant general, his quartermaster, and his commissary, so that all the parts of the service necessary for the direction of men, and for the administration of troops and public property, have the proper representatives at his headquarters. The division commanders have no such organization. They have but two aides-de-camp and assistant adjutant general each. They have no quartermaster and no commissary. The regulations of the army contemplate that in the field the division commander shall be the centre of military administration, which now he cannot be. The rapid promotion now made of officers of the regular army makes it exceedingly difficult for division commanders to obtain for aides-de-camp men of sufficient experience and judgment to act efficiently in that capacity.

Divisions are now commanded by brigadier generals, though the law requires they should be commanded by major generals. These brigadier generals can have lieutenants as aides-de-camp. The lieutenants now are the greenest officers in the service. Those who were lieutenants before this war are now captains and colonels and brigadier generals. It is difficult to get one of the old lieutenants to act as an aide-de-camp. I have offered the position of aidede-camp, which is generally very much sought for, to four or five officers of artillery; but they now command batteries, and prefer that to a staff position. The rank of aides-de camp of division commanders is too low to enable them to secure the proper amount of ability required for that position.

Now, in regard to the higher commands, I do not think it possible efficiently

« PrejšnjaNaprej »