I differ entirely with Colonel Hamilton in the view which he takes of Major McCrady's conduct, and I beg leave to interpose to prevent any hasty action from being taken against Major McCrady without giving him a fair hearing.
When my brigade was put in march, at the commencement of the late operations, Major McCrady was sick in Richmond. He left a sick bed and overtook me on the battle-field at Cold Harbor, looking extremely feeble and ill. He said to me that he thought he might be able to accompany me and perform some staff duty, although not strong enough to accompany his regiment. This might well be, as I had required the field officers to dismount a while for the purpose of seeing better and sending orders more promptly. Myself and my staff remained on horseback. I do not think Major McCrady could have reasonably anticipated less risk in accompanying me on staff duty mounted than in marching with his regiment on foot. I requested him to accompany me, and he did so. In the heat of the battle I sent him to rally a portion of my troops, which, from the difficulty of the ground and the fierceness of the enemy's fire, had got into some disorder. I do not think I saw him again. Some time after proceeding to execute my order he was seen by one of my captains retiring in a state of exhaustion. He told this officer that he had rallied the troops referred to and staid with them in the fight until his strength gave out entirely. Major McCrady's regiment had at this time been formed by my order somewhat to the rear, preparatory to another movement. Major McCrady went to it, and in attempting to dismount fell to the ground, as I have been informed by his brother [Lieutenant Thomas McCrady], who was obliged to leave him thus lying on the ground when the regiment was shortly afterward ordered by Major General A. P. Hill to take a position in advance. Lieutenant McCrady has not since seen the major, but understands that he got back to Richmond in a carriage in which he had come to the immediate neighborhood of the battle-ground.
I understand that Major McCrady afterward went home on sick leave, granted in Richmond, without referring the application to his commanding officers. If this proceeding was irregular, it was an irregularity which the War Department has permitted until very lately, if it is not still permitted, and Major McCrady cannot be held responsible for it.
Colonel Hamilton himself was very unwell during the late operations of the army, and at one time on the march, on June 29, sank fainting from his horse. He refused, however, to go off duty, and although I was advised to order him, I judged it best not to do so. By the power of his constitution Colonel Hamilton was able to overcome disease in a remarkable manner, and this may cause him to apply his own standard to other men. But I do not think it right. Few men have such power. Possibly Major McCrady may not possess it; but Major McCrady had been sick for a month before the march commenced, and was perhaps in a condition of body which no power of mind could overcome. I see no reason whatever to question the good conduct of Major McCrady.
I respectfully request that you will ask the Secretary of War to read this.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Provisional Army, C. S.
General S. COOPER.