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sloops and steamboats from the sea, how is it? We fight a big battle, and perhaps take their earthworks; perhaps they beat us. Three chances out of five that they beat us. But suppose we beat them. They retire a little way, and then fight again. They retire again, and again fight; and so we may fight them all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, for they will retire on their system of railways, destroying as they go.
By the chairman : Question. How do they get this railroad iron across from the Baltimore and Ohio railroad? Do they carry it across with teams, with wagons ?
Answer. Yes, sir. From Martinsburg to Winchester is a turnpike road, a good road.
By Mr. Johnson :
Answer. I think about twenty miles. I have information of their movements about as good as any we have got. There are many Baltimore and Ohio railroad men, not exactly Unionists, but deeply interested in the opening of that road, and they will furnish me information which they would not furnish anybody else about the movements of the enemy.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 28, 1861. General GEORGE A. McCall sworn and examined.
By the chairman:
command ? Answer. Nearly 13,000; between 12,000 and 13,000. Question. Whereabout are you located ?
Answer. At camp Pierpont, which is just in front of Langley, Fairfax county, Virginia.
Question. How far from the headquarters of General McClellan ?
Answer. Since the last of September or the first of October. I do not recollect the day exactly.
Question. We want to get at your opinion, if we can, of what ought really to be done. We want to know from you, as an officer of experience and a military man, whether, in your opinion, it is advisable to make an onward movement against the enemy this season—I mean before the spring opens ?
Answer. What distance into the enemy's country?
Question. To endeavor to rout this army that is besieging the capital. I do not speak of the manner of doing it, but whether it is best to try it in any way.
Answer. Well, I think we might make a movement on Centreville, but I do not think we could make a movement beyond that.
By Mr. Odell:
By the chairman: Question. Have you devised any plan of operations for this army which you, as a military man, think ought to be pursued? Have you settled in your own
? mind any plan of the campaign against the enemy?
Answer. Well, to prosecute it thoroughly, say to Richmond, I do not think it can be done this season. That is my impression, for the reason that we cannot carry with us the subsistence alone, independent of the munitions of war and forage, also indispensable. I suppose that country is entirely stripped of forage by the enemy.
Question. To say nothing of Richmond, could this army of the enemy in front of us here be routed, overcome and dispersed, by the opposing force we have here?
Answer. It would be a very heavy operation. They are very strongly intrenched there. I suppose their position there would be three to one against an attacking force. It would be at very considerable cost of blood to drive them from their intrenchments there.
Question. You mean by direct attack and storm of their works?
Question. But have you ever reflected upon whether there is any other way of turning their works, or some other military expedient by which they could be overcome without a direct attack or siege?
Answer. They have good engineers, and no doubt have seized upon all the strong points on both Hanks. I questioned some prisoners whom I had the other day-two or three of them were intelligent men—and they spoke of their position as a strong one, and strongly fortified and mined; the roads about there also said to be mined. They have a strong force there, I suppose from 70,000 to 75,000 men, from all accounts.
Question. Could it have been better done at an earlier period of the season than it could now?
Answer. No, sir; it could not, in my opinion, have been done at all.
Answer. It might be now, but it would be at very considerable cost now, I think.
Question. Would it be practicable to turn their left wing, to have an expedition to go around them that way, and so on to Staunton, on the Virginia Central railroad? Could such an expedition, in your judgment, be made practicable?
Answer. I do not know the country sufficiently to give an opinion on that.
Question. Have you counselled with the general-in-chief in regard to an expedition of any kind against the enemy!
Answer. No, sir; I have not.
Question. What, from the information you have, do you take to be the strength of the enemy there!
Answer. Well, from 70,000 to 75,000 men. I have got that both from deserters and prisoners on several occasions.
Question. You think they have 75,000 perhaps?
Question. I mean the whole amount of their force over there under the command of their generals that oppose our army. I do not know exactly where they are located. There are some at Centreville, some at Manassas, some at
Leesburg, and some at other places, probably. I mean all that is called their army of the Potomac?
Answer. The best information that I have ever had was information gained, say, in October, and their army of the Potomac was represented then at 180,000 Question. That is from the best sources of information you
have? Answer. Yes, sir; that was from a pretty good source.
Question. What was the information that, in your opinion, made their army that number?
Answer. It was information received at general headquartess, from whence I learned it.
Question. I mean the sources of information. I want to find out, if I can, how authentic information we have in regard to their numbers.
Answer. I do not know the sources from which it came.
Answer. It would, undoubtedly, in my opinion.
Answer. Yes, sir. We are discharging men now, and the exposure of this winter, I think, would cause us to lose a great many men.
We would have to supply their places by raw recruits in the spring, and I think it would be a saving, and an economical measure, financially, to put them in better quarters than they are in now.
The men are under canvas now. Question. If we do not contemplate any offensive measures against the enemy
but merely to act entirely on the defensive, what number of troops would, in your judgment, render this capital safe? Answer. Fifty thousand men, I should
suppose. Question. That number would make it entirely safe? Answer. I think so.
Question. And the balance could be spared for other expeditions, if it should be thought best?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Is it, in your judgment, necessary that a conclusion should be reached very soon, whether we are to move or not to move, that more convenient quarters should be had if we do not contemplate any offensive movements here, and that, perhaps, for other expeditions we might spare some of the troops now here?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. I will ask you whether the army is now organized for offensive operations in the way that great armies, according to modern military science, are moved ?
Answer. It is not completely organized.
Answer. I think it requires its artillery to be increased, and its means of moving its transportation.
Question. I do not make myself understood. I mean a military organization for a great army to take offensive, active measures in a campaign. Is it organized in the manner great armies now usually are ?
Answer. Yes, sir; I believe so.
Answer. It is now organized only in divisions. I believe it is the purpose to create army corps of two, or perhaps three, divisions each.
Question. Is it not absolutely essential that that should be done before the army really moves, or when it moves ? In other words, suppose you are attacked now by the enemy, and you should see that one of the neighboring divisions should support you: would you be able to give that command so as to make it peremptory and mandatory?
Answer. I am senior to the division adjoining me, and my order must be obeyed.
By Mr. Odell: Question. Well, reverse it: suppose you were the junior, and were attacked ? Answer. Then I could not do it. I could only call on him for assistance.
By the chairman : Question. Is that a safe way for an army? Is it not necessary that it should be differently organized. Of course, any way is well enough when no attack is to be made?
Answer. Well, if an attack was contemplated, I should say it would be better to have the army organized differently.
Question. If you were to move offensively against the enemy, you would want it organized differently, would you not? Answer. Yes, sir.
By Mr. Odell:
By the chairman : Question. As I understand you, the army is not organized now for offensive operations ?
Answer. In that respect it is not.
Question. How much do you suppose you have? ?
By Mr. Odell :
By Mr. Chandler:
Answer. I think there are now three batteries to each division—one battery to a brigade.
Question. To a division, 18 guns?
By Mr. Odell:
Answer. I have 14 guns: one battery of 6 guns, and two batteries of 4 guns each.
By Mr. Chandler: Question. That would make how many guns on the other side of the riverabout 100 guns?
Answer. More than that.
Answer. Between 100 and 120 guns, I should suppose, upon the other side ; some few of the batteries have 6
guns. By the chairman : Question. There is one thing I want to ask you more about. I spoke of an expedition to turn their left flank, to go on, perhaps, to Staunton, so as to take possession of their railroad, and cut off the support they receive from that great artery. I understood your objection to such an expedition now to be principally on account of transportation. Would that, in your judgment, be the only difficulty in the way?
Answer. I think it would.
Question. Then, if the quartermaster thought he could overcome that difticulty, there would, in your judgment, be no impediment to such an expedition ?
Answer. I think not, as far as Centreville.
Question. I do not mean that. My plan now is not to go to Centreville, but to go to the right of that; avoid that as far as you can; go around that. Of course, they would have to come out of their works to attack you if you did that. Such an expedition has sometimes been contemplated, not by insiders, perhaps, but by outsiders. I want to find out if such an expedition would be practicable, if there was no difficulty in the way of transportation, which I understood to be the objection you made to it. If there are other objections, I want to know all the difficulties in the way?
Answer. We should expose our whole flank by that movement.
The chairman: I should suppose that if they saw fit to leave their intrenchments, and all the benefits of them, and we saw fit to support the column that went on there with an army as large as they had to attack us, we might fight a battle there, as we could do it on a field of our own choosing, as well as to fight it anywhere.
By Mr. Odell: Question. Are you connected with the regular army, or with the volunteers only?
Answer. With the volunteers.
your command ? Answer. Twelve regiments of infantry, one of rifles, one of cavalry, and three batteries.
Question. When you speak of a regiment of rifles, you refer to a regiment of infantry, but not included in the twelve ?
Answer. It is a regiment of infantry, but not included in the twelve.
Question. Have you all the cavalry that can be used to advantage, taking the surface of the country into consideration ?
Answer. I have sufficient cavalry.
Question. Is that force enough of cavalry for a division, considering the sur. face of the country over here, so far as you know it ?