Today in History:

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


thankless was the duty devolved upon me, and I am not ashamed to say that I would gladly have avoided it if I could have done so consistently with my sense of duty to the Government. To confront with a small army vastly superior forces, to fight battles without hope of victory, but only to gain time and to embarrass and delay the forward movements of the enemy, is of all duties the most hazardous and the most difficult which can be imposed upon any general or any army. While such operations require the highest courage and endurance on the part of the troops, they are perhaps unlikely to be understood or appreciated, and the results, however successful, have little in them to attract popular attention and applause.

At no time could I have hoped to fight a successful battle with the immensely superior force of the enemy which confronted me, and which was able at any time to outflank me and bear my small army to the dust. It was only by constant movement, by incessant watchfulness, and by hazardous skirmishes and battles that the forces under my command were not overwhelmed, whilst at the same time the enemy was embarrassed and delayed in his advance upon Washington until the forces from the Peninsula were at length assembled for the defense of that city. I did hope that in the course of these operations the enemy might commit some imprudence or leave some opening of which I could take such advantage as to gain at least a partial victory over his forces. This opportunity was presented by the advance of Jackson upon Manassas Junction; but, although the best dispositions possible under the circumstances were ordered, the object was frustrated in a manner and by causes which are now well understood. I am gratified to know that the conduct of that campaign, every detail of which was communicated day by day to the General-in-Chief, was fully approved by him and by the Government, and I now gladly submit the subject to the judgment of the country.

General Banks rendered most efficient and faithful service throughout the campaign, and his conduct at the battle of Cedar Mountain and during the operations on the Upper Rappahannock was marked by great coolness, intrepidity, and zeal. General McDowell led his corps during the whole of the campaign with eminent ability and vigor, and I am greatly indebted to him for zealous and distinguished service both in the battles of the 29th and 30th of August and in the operations which preceded and succeeded those battles. General Sigel rendered useful service in reorganizing and putting in condition the First Army Corps of the Army of Virginia, and made many valuable and highly important reconnaissances during the operations of the campaign. I cannot express myself too highly of the zealous, gallant, and cheerful manner in which General Reno deported himself from the beginning to the end of the operations. Ever prompt, earnest, and soldierly, he was the model of an accomplished soldier and a gallant gentleman, and his loss has been a heavy blow to the army and to the country. General Heintzelman performed his duty faithfully and honestly, whilst the commanders of the divisions of his corps (Generals Kearny and Hooker) have that place in the public estimation which they have earned by many gallant and heroic actions, and which renders it unnecessary for me to do aught except pay this tribute to the memory of one and to the rising fame of the other. Generals Williams, Augur, Crawford, Greene, Geary, Carroll, and Prince, of Banks' corps, have been already noticed for their gallant and distinguished conduct at Cedar Mountain. Generals King and Ricketts, of McDowell's corps, left their divisions throughout the operations with skill and efficiency,