Question by the COURT. Describe the passage, its width, and character of natural obstructions in it.
Answer. There are properly two gaps-one near the eastern portion of the mountain and the other toward the western portion. between the two is a more open space, although with heavy embankments on the side. The eastern part of the Gap is rather narrow, with very steep embankments. The land on both sides is wooded. From the eastern gap it opens toward the east sufficiently to post batteries so as to defend the debouche of the Gap. This is about half a mile in the mountain from the base of the mountain. So much as I recollect, the land on both sides of the Gap is too steep or too accidental for troops to cross.
Question by the COURT. What was the whole strength of the force under General Ricketts at the Gap and how far did he penetrate it with his force?
Answer. I could not state positively the numerical strength of General Ricketts' force. He had four brigades of infantry, which amounted to at least 8,000; besides he had about six batteries. Some of the batteries were broken; that is, had lost a piece or so. I could not judge well how far they penetrated inside the Gap, but I know they were fighting in the defile. I was not with the advance.
Question by the COURT. Was General Ricketts driven back before he concluded to retreat to Hay Market?
Answer. No, sir.
Question by the COURT. What was the description of rebel troops which approached Hay Market from the direction of Hopewell Gap?
Answer. I saw only cavalry, but the report which were received from the Harris Light Cavalry were that large masses of troops were debouching through the Gap.
Question by the COURT. Was any communication made to General McDowell of the approach of these masses through the Hopewell Gap?
Answer. A report was sent to General McDowell stating that General Ricketts concluded to retire to Hay Market on account of his believing himself surrounded by the enemy. I believe that General Ricketts sent a similar report to General McDowell. These are the only communications sent to General McDowell of which I have knowledge.
Question by the COURT. What measures, if any, were taken by General McDowell to prevent the approach of the enemy through Hopewell Gap except sending General Ricketts to operate as you have already described?
Answer. I do not know of any other measures taken by General McDowell, except the sending of Ricketts' division and the two brigades of cavalry to defend the line. These regiments had not only to defend the Gap itself, but also small passes through which cavalry might pass.
Question by General MCDOWELL. About what hour were these reports sent to which you refer-of troops coming through Hopewell Gap?
Answer. About 6 o'clock p. m.; maybe a little later.
Question by General MCDOWELL. From the nature of the defile of Thoroughfare Gap, which would have been the better disposition of the force-to have placed them in the defile where the front could have been no wider than the enemy's front or to have placed them so as to prevent the enemy from debouching from the defile by concentrating the fire of a wide front on the opening?
Answer. From the hasty survey that I made of the ground I should judge that having sufficient artillery, as in this case, it was far better to prevent the debouching of troops from the Gap than to post the artillery in a narrow defile.
The court was cleared.
The court was opened.
The court adjourned to meet to-morrow, January 7, 1863, at 11 o'clock a. m.