Today in History:

21 Series I Volume XXVII-I Serial 43 - Gettysburg Campaign Part I


us, orders were given him for his movements contingent upon our success or failure, as the battle would be decided before he could reach us. The telegraphic and other correspondence will show this. I recall these facts to your recollection, knowing that the duties suddenly imposed upon you at the time may have caused you, while giving attention to other and more pressing duties, to fail to fix decidedly in your mind these points. I shall be glad to know, if such is the case, that some other person than myself is alluded to. In conclusion, I would repeat the purpose of this communication, and respectfully and earnestly request a reply at your earliest convenience as to whether the statement given above, of the General-in-Chief, is based upon anything he may have received from you officially or otherwise.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




February 4, 1864.

Major General D. BUTTERFIELD,

U. S. Vols., Hdqrs. Eleventh and Twelfth Corps,

Lookout Valley, Tenn.:

GENERAL: I am in receipt of your letter of the 23rd ultimo. I have never made any official communications to the General-in Chief upon the subject of the withdrawal of the troops from Harper's Ferry, excepting such as were made at the time. Some time after the battle of Gettysburg, the first time I saw the General-in-Chief, I did in private conversation say to him that my own judgment was in favor of leaving the garrison at Harper's Ferry intact, although I agreed with General Hooker that it was of no importance as a crossing-place of Potomac River, but I did think it of importance to hold it as a debouch into the Cumberland Valley; that after much discussion I yielded to your arguments, and directed 4, 000 men to be left to garrison Maryland heights, and the balance, 7, 000, to be brought to Frederick to guard the Baltimore and Ohio railroad; that late in tho night the 28th, understanding from you the supply of subsistence with the garrison was limited, and that, owing to the difficulty of protecting the canal and railroad, the communications with place would be precarious, I ordered the abandonment of the place, and detailed the 4, 000 men to escort the public property to Washington. This conversation was private, and was made in explanation of my course, but with no expectation that would be officially used by the General-in-Chief. You will see from it that I did not repudiate the responsibility of the act, but that I did state that it was based on arguments used by you and information derived from you. I shall greatly regret if my recollection of the facts differ from yours, but it is proper I should state that my recollection is clear and distinct as given above.

Respectfully, yours,