Today in History:

41 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II


been over the whole field on the left. General Hooker estimated the loss of the enemy as at least two to one, and General Kearny as at least three to one, of our own.

Every indication during the night of the 29th and up to 10 o'clock on the morning of the 30th pointed to the retreat of the enemy from our front. Paroled prisoners of our own, taken on the evening of the 29th, and who came into our lines on the morning of the 30th, reported the enemy retreating during the whole night in the direction of and along the Warrenton turnpike. Generals McDowell and Heintzelman, who reconnoitered the position held by the enemy's left on the evening of the 29th, confirmed this statement. They reported to me that the positions occupied by the enemy's left had been evacuated, and that there was every indication that he was retreating in the direction of Gainesville.

On the morning of the 30th, as may be supposed, our troops, who had been so continually marching and fighting for so many days, were in a state of great exhaustion. They had had little to eat for two days previous, and the artillery and cavalry horses had been in harness and saddled continually for ten days, and had had no forage for two days previous. It may easily be imagined how little these troops, after such severe labor, and after undergoing such hardship and privation, were in condition for active and efficient service. I had telegraphed to the General-in-Chief on the 28th our condition, and had begged of him to have rations and forage sent forward to us from Alexandria with all dispatch. I also called his attention to the imminent need of cavalry horses to enable the cavalry belonging to the army to perform any service whatever.

About daylight of the 30th I received a note from General Franklin, herewith appended, written by direction of General McClellan, and dated at 8 o'clock the evening before, informing me that rations and forage would be loaded into the available wagons and cars at Alexandria as soon as I would send back a cavalry escort to bring out the trains. Such a letter, when we were fighting the enemy and Alexandria was swarming with troops, needs no comment. Bad as was the condition of our cavalry, I was in no situation to spare troops from the front, nor could they have gone to Alexandria and returned within the time by which we must have had provisions or have fallen back in the direction of Washington, nor do I yet see what service cavalry could have rendered in guarding railroad trains.

It was not until I received this letter that I began to feel discouraged and nearly hopeless of any successful issues to the operations with which I was charged, but I felt it to be my duty, notwithstanding the desperate condition of my command, from great fatigue, from want of provisions and forage, and from the small hope that I had of any effective assistance from Alexandria, to hold my position at all hazards and under all privations unless overwhelmed by the superior forces of the enemy. I had received no sort of information of any troops coming forward to my assistance since the 24th, and did not expect on the morning of the 30th that any assistance would reach me from the direction of Washington, but I determined again to give battle to the enemy on the 30th, and at least to lay on such blows as would cripple him as much as possible and delay as long as practicable any farther advance toward the capital. I accordingly prepared to renew the engagement. At that time my effective forces - greatly reduced by losses in killed, wounded, missing, and broken-down men during the severe operations of two or three days and nights previous, the sharp