absconded the night previous to the 29th June and preceded the army to this camp. Doubtless their intention was to have returned to their homes had they not been stopped by the provost guard.
I deem it my duty, in connection with this report, to enlarge upon the demoralizing influence of certain officers of volunteers, who maintain that an officer has the right, if he be sick and unable to obtain a leave of absence, to go without one. Captain James F. Rusling, brigade quartermaster of this brigade, advocates this principle, and has himself acted, I have been informed, on the principle he avows. This officer was formerly my regimental quartermaster, and possesses some influence with the officers of my regiment. His language and example, I have no doubt, have had a very injurious effect upon the minds of my officers. He has asserted and maintained that an officer of my regiment who deserted at Williamsburg and returned to New Jersey was justified in leaving without permission because he was ill, and declared that he would do the like. Another officer, Dr. James C. Fisher, brigade surgeon of this brigade, has caused me considerable trouble, because he persists in urging upon the medical officers of my regiment that I, their commanding officer, have no control over them whatever; that they may leave camp at any time without my permission, or the army with a simple leave from their superior medical officer; that the medical department is wholly independent of the military department, "being a separate organization, " &c.
I should have taken official action against all the delinquents named herein were there any hope that justice might be administered through the action of a general court-martial. There being no such hope in my mind, I respectfully submit the facts for such remedy as the general-in-chief may see fit to apply.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. H. STARR,
Colonel Fifth N. J. Volunteers, Commanding Regiment.
Captain JOS. DICKINSON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Hooker's Division.
No. 55. Report of Major John Ramsey,
Fifth New Jersey Infantry, of the engagement at Oak Grove, or King's School-House.
CAMP OF THE FIFTH NEW JERSEY VOLUNTEERS, Fair Oaks, Va., June 26, 1862.
SIR: In compliance with instructions from headquarters of the brigade I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Fifth New Jersey Volunteers in the engagement of the 25th of June:
The regiment marched from its camp on the afternoon of the 24th to perform its tour of picket duty, remaining in the rifle pits during the night. Early in the morning the regiment was ordered forward to relieve the picket line. Shortly after establishing my men on the line, I received orders from the colonel commanding the brigade to withdraw my picket as soon as the First Brigade had formed line of battle in my rear of the line. The First Brigade having formed line of battle, I ordered my men to retire, and then formed the battalion in rear of the First Brigade as ordered.