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Question. Were the enemy pursued in force after that defeat ?
Answer. They were not. General Hooker told me that he passed some little distance beyond the line that had been occupied by Casey's pickets before the battle, but when I visited General Hooker's front, two or three days after the battle, I found that his picket line was not so far advanced by some two hundred yards as mine had been.
Question. Why were they not pursued; and, in your judgment, what would have been the result had a vigorous pursuit been made ?
Answer. Why they were not pursued I am not able to state, but it is my opinion that if they had been vigorously pursued by all the forces available for pursuit, our army might have gone into Richmond.
By Mr. Odell: Question. Were the troops that had been engaged in the first and second days' fighting in condition to follow the enemy?
Answer. A portion of my corps (about half I should say) might have been pushed forward in pursuit. But my corps having been much longer engaged than any other, was, I suppose, more unfit to pursue than any other. I should think that Sumner's corps and the greater portion of Heintzelman's were in a condition to pursue.
Question. Was the condition of the river such that they could have been joined by the right wing of the army from the other side ?
Answer. I cannot answer that question. I have understood that the river had swollen to an enormous height, and that it was difficult for Sumner to get over; but what the condition was further up I do not know.
Question. Would it not have been necessary to have had the two wings of the army joined in order to make that pursuit ?
Answer. It would have been necessary, in my judgment, to have had a portion of the right wing, and it is my impression that a portion might have been crossed over; but that I do not know.
By Mr. Gooch: Question. Why was it that the army remained so long as it did, with one portion on the right and the other portion on the left bank of the Chickahominy?
Answer. Without being able to answer definitely, as I should if I had had command of the army, can state that I always supposed that the enemy would be able to cross the Chickahominy above where we were and come down in the rear and cut off our communication with the White House, which was the depot and base of our supplies, unless we had left a very strong force on the left bank of the Chickahominy.
Question. Was not the army, with one portion of it on the right bank and the other portion on the left bank of the Chickahominy, in a very bad position either to advance on Richmond or to resist an attack in force by the enemy?
Answer. I think it was; that is, I think it was a violation of the military maxim to divide the army by a stream that cannot be readily crossed at all times.
Question. If that portion of the enemy in front of New Bridge had been driven from their position, would not that have afforded the means of uniting the two wings of the army, and at the same time protecting your communications ?
Answer. I should state that not having been with the right wing of the army, I have not the means of answering that question positively. My impression, however, is that if the enemy had been driven from his position before New Bridge, the two wings of our army might have been enabled to co-operate.
Question. What was the next engagement with the enemy after the battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks ?
Rep. Com. 108 -39
Answer. Portions of my corps were more or less engaged almost every day from that time, during the month of June, but not in a pitched battle. The next pitched battles were those of Mechanicsville and Gaines's Mill, I believe. Our outposts and pickets were engaged all the time; sometimes quite seriously. I lost several hundred men, killed and wounded, from my corps during the month of June.
Question. Why was our army permitted to remain in that condition, separated by a river, from the time of the battle of Fair Oaks until the battle of Gaines's Mill ?
Answer. I am not able to give any reason.
Question. Can you give any good military reason for permitting the army to remain so for that length of time?
Answer. I can give no reason for its remaining so long in such a position. But I consider that the fact that I am not able to give a reason is very inconclusive, as I was not in a position to know what reasons influenced the commanding general to keep the army in such a condition. I do not think that consultations and councils were held frequently with the heads of the army ; and because those councils were not held I was not in a position to understand the reason why the army was kept in the position it was kept in.
Question. You took no part in the battle of Gaines's Mill?
Answer. On the night of the 27th of June, I was ordered to have my corps taken across White Oak Swamp Bridge during the night.
By Mr. Julian :
Answer. There was no council held; but the moment that I heard that Jackson was coming around on our right wing, I wrote a note to General McClellan advising him to retire down the peninsula. He replied that to do that would be to give up our cause. I was ordered to cross White Oak Swamp. In a letter addressed to me by General Williams, of General McClellan's staff, I was directed to get a portion of my command over before daylight in the morning. Then came the direction : "Those troops, after passing the swamp, will at once seize a strong position so as to cover most effectually the passage of the other troops.” In obedience to that order, I went down in the middle of the night to White Oak Swamp Bridge and found that the bridge was not in a condition to allow the crossing of any wheeled vehicle; and the sun had appeared some distance above the horizon before a single vehicle could cross over. The moment one of the bridges was finished I pushed my column across withthe utmost speed, having employed a considerable time before crossing in learning the condition of the country between White Oak Swamp and James river. I ascertained that from three to four miles up towards Richmond from White Oak Swamp Bridge some three or four roads joined ; that is to say, the road to Charles City, the road to Long Bridge, &c. I considered that an important point to occupy, and to that point I directed the head of my column with the utmost speed. I seized that point and arranged the troops of Couch's division and a portion of Peck’s division (formerly Casey's) to receive the enemy. On the morning of the 29th my lines were attacked by a considerable force of the enemy's cavalry, but they were repulsed with a loss of about a hundred on their part and no loss on ours. On the afternoon of the 29th General McClellan came up to the front where I was, and, after some consultation, gave me orders to move my corps to the James river by the Quaker road, or any other road that I might consider better. General Fitz-John Porter's corps was ordered to move almost simultaneously with mine, and to support my corps in case I was attacked. I had been during the whole week collecting information as to the roads leading across from White Oak Swamp to James river. I had made inquiries from several citizens, whose statements coincided sufficiently to give me great faith in the information I gained from them. I consulted also my cavalry scouts, among others Captain Keenan, of Craig's cavalry, who told me of a road on which I might safely move, and which ran almost parallel to the Quaker road, but some distance below it—a mile or two. Taking all the information I could gain, I ventured, just after dark on the 29th, with all my artillery and some ambulances, to cross over this road parallel with the Quaker road, which I did successfully, and arrived in sight of James river and the gunboats about sunrise on the morning of the 30th. The road I passed over had not had a wheel run over it for five years, and there were trees rotting in it. I sent my baggage by a still lower route down the peninsula.
As soon as I got to the James river I went up to Turkey Bridge and seized it and fortified it; and while at the bridge, or close by it, Fitz-John Porter came up. He had come by the Quaker road. I was ordered to guard the position at Haxall's, down the river, with my corps. But as the enemy pressed strongly in front up at Malvern Hill and in that neighborhood, I was ordered to send
up Couch's division to re-enforce them there, while I held the line down the river which was not attacked. On the 1st of July I received this communication: “ HEADQUARTERS ARMY OP the POTOMAC,
“July 1, 1862. “ The army of the Potomac moves to-night to Harrison's Bar. Your command will form the rear guard, Franklin's corps just preceding yours. The gunboats are instructed to cover your flank and rear. Bring along all the wagons you can, but they are to be sacrificed, of course, rather than imperil your safety. Celerity of movement is the sole security of this operation. At Harrison's Bar additional gunboats, a confortable position, and considerable reenforcements under General Shields. Stimulate your men to fortitude and renewed courage by a knowledge of the fact. Couch's division has already been ordered to move under the direction of General Porter. "By command of Major General McClellan.
“ JAMES A. HARDEE,
“ Adjutant General. “Brigadier General E. D. Keyes,
“Commanding Fourth Corps." The force I had was about thirty-five pieces of artillery, two regiments of cavalry, and Peck's division of infantry. I considered that the order required me to take up a retreat from Turkey Bridge. I organized parties of axemen, and also a party with material to blow up the bridge, and to destroy Turkey Bridge the moment the tail of our column should cross. I arranged my forces along the road, perpendicularly to the road, in such positions as to be able to repel the enemy if he should attack the column anywhere along the route. There were two roads upon which we could retreat, one of which was the main road, about a mile and a half from James river. There was another road about midway between the main road and James river, which, starting out from Haxall's farm, crossed a wooded ravine and came into the main road at Carter's Hill, which was about gunshot from the outer line we afterwards established at Harrison's Bar. This interior road had been obstructed by our troops, fearing that the enemy might cross Turkey Bridge if we should not be able to destroy it, and come in on that flank and attack us on both flanks as we were marching on the main road. Towards morning it began to rain, and finding an immense mass of wagons and a great number of batteries collecting about this road that had been obstructed by our troops, I called for the axemen and had it cleared out again, and I ventured to give the order before I received the report that Turkey Bridge had been destroyed. Over that road, so cleared, about 1,200
carriages passed, every one of which must have been lost if that road had not been reopened. The main road was wide enough in most places for three carriages to move along abreast, although they crowded very much. The last one passed the point where this side road joined the main road only about fifteen minutes before the enemy came to that point and fired upon us. The army retreated through the 2d of July, which was one of the most rainy days I have ever known. About the middle of the day I received this letter from General Marcy: “HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
“ July 2, 1862. “GENERAL: I have ordered back to your assistance all the cavalry that can be raised here. It is of the utmost importance that we should save all our artillery, and as many of our wagons as possible. And the commanding general feels the utmost confidence that you will do all that can be done to accomplish this. Permit me to say that if you bring in everything, you will accomplish a most signal and meritorious exploit, which the commanding general will not fail to represent in its proper light to the department. “Very respectfully,
“R. B. MARCY, Chief of Staff.”
I brought down to Harrison's Landing every wagon, except a few which broke down and could not be brought along, and which generally had no loads in them. But as we were obliged to cross a low gully and a creek before entering the lines at Harrison's Bar, I was obliged to park a vast number of wagons on the other side of the bank. The enemy came down to Carter's Hill and fired two or three shots, which we replied to, and a gunboat coming in range threw a shot or two among them, and they left. We were thus able to bring in all the wagons and all the artillery; and in that retreat from Turkey Bridge to Harrison's Bar, in my opinion, there were no more wagons left than there would have been if there had been no enemy in the neighborhood.
Question. Were you consulted in relation to the withdrawal of the army from the peninsula ?
Answer. Yes, sir; I was. I was not consulted formally until the President came down, I think, about the 7th July. I saw him on the day of his arrival there, and I saw him again the next day. On both occasions he asked my opinion as to whether the army should be retained there or withdrawn. I gave my opinion, without hesitation, that not a single day should be lost to remove it and place it between this capital and the enemy. I gave him my reasons at length, not only then, verbally, but I afterwards wrote a letter to him in order to give them more emphatically.
My reasons for the withdrawal of the army were these: We had endeavored to take Richmond with the army of the Potomac, and had failed and retreated. I thought it would, therefore, be impolitic, when the army was so very much fatigued as it was, and had made one failure, to try again there without very great re-enforcements. I did not then believe that there could be sent there re-enforcements sufficient to justify another movement against Richmond in that direction. I do not believe now that it could have been done. I therefore had no hesitation in advising that the army should be removed at once. It should be removed, because it could not be used effectively in the position it then was in. Furthermore, it was in a position which was very sickly, and where our troops would wilt away with more rapidity than in actual battle. The heat was very great, and there was great evidence of exhaustion and fatigue. The sick report continued to increase rapidly.
I believed then, as I have always believed, that the loss of this capital would be the loss of our cause. I therefore thought that army should be placed between the capital and the enemy in the shortest possible time.
The movement, however, did not take place until about the middle of August, although the order for its removal, as I understood, had been given a week or more before that time. I think the movement was necessarily delayed somewhat to get rid of the sick, the baggage, &c., which it was necessary to send off before the army should march. I do not think there was any very unnecessary delay in moving after the final orders were given. But I think it would have been a great deal better had the order been given when the President was down there.
The President convened all the corps commanders, and required them to answer him separately and alone as to their opinion in regard to the withdrawal of the army. I was not aware what were the opinions of the other corps commanders. I gave mine in favor of the removal of the army without consultation with anybody whatever. I did not know at the time I went away what the opinions of General Sumner were, although my headquarters were right alongside his. I do not know that there was any other formal council held. I had frequent conversations with General McClellan upon the subject, especially after the order for the withdrawal was received ; and I then learned, for the first time, that he was opposed to the removal of the army. I did not know before what his opinions were.
I will give another reason I had for advocating the withdrawal of the army. I stated to the President, I think, (if not to him to several other persons,) that the enemy could detach a large part of their force and attack General Pope, and still have enough to make Richmond secure against our attack. And at the time we moved I was under a strong impression that the bulk of Lee's army had gone up to attack General Pope, and I was under that impression nearly the whole time between the President's visit and our final removal.
Question. How far from the position you held on the right bank of the Chickahominy river was it to the point where you struck the James river; and how far was it to Harrison's Bar from the point where you struck the James river?
Answer. Taking Savage's Station as the point of departure, I think the route I marched to reach the James river was about fifteen miles, crossing White Oak Swamp Bridge and getting to the James river just below Turkey Bridge; and from there to Harrison's Landing was about six miles.
Question. Did you leave the peninsula with the army?
Answer. I was ordered to hold myself in readiness to embark, and one of my divisions (Couch's) did embark. But I remained behind, under orders, with the whole of Peck’s division and all the reserve artillery of my corps, and established my headquarters at Yorktown, where they have been ever since.
By Mr. Julian : Question. To what causes do you attribute the failure of the peninsula cam. paign?
Answer. I cannot give a concise answer to that question. In my opinion, the failure of that campaign was owing to several circumstances. A campaign may fail for one reason, or there may be many reasons for its failure. One reason for the failure of the peninsula campaign was the detention of the army before the lines of Yorktown a whole month, in consequence of the navy not being able to co-operate to secure to us the free navigation of the York and James rivers. While I remained before those lines I came to the conclusion that our force was not large enough, as it had been diminished by about 45,000 men of the original force designed for that movement; that is, McDowell's corps had been detached, and also Blenker's division of Sumner's corps. But before Yorktown was evacuated Franklin's division of McDowell's corps, which General Mc