War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0218 OPERATIONS IN N.VA., W.VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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Major General E. A. HITCHCOCK, U. S. Volunteers, a witness, was duly sworn.

Question by General McDOWELL. State if your official position and connection with the Government were such at the time as to enable you to know or to give you good grounds for judging as to General McDowell having or not in April last sought, induced, or procured the separation of his army corps from the Army of the Potomac, with a view to having a separate command for himself; and, if so whether or not the retention of the corps was, to the best of your knowledge and belief, sought, induced, or procured by him, or was made by the Government for public reasons, based on the representations of others? State fully what you know of this matter.

Answer. I was on duty in the War Office, under the immediate orders of the Secretary of War, from the middle of March until the middle of May last. That period embraces the time referred to in this question. The circumstances which led to the detention of General McDowell's army corps in the early part of April, as a covering army for the city of Washington, were, I believe very fully known to me, and I am very sure that personally General McDowell had nothing whatever to do in procuring the orders which detained him in front of Washington. I am very sure that his first information on the subject was derived from the order itself, directing his detention here. I saw General McDowell soon after that, and his first expressions to me in reference to the order were those of deep regret. He had hoped, as he said to me, to accompany the army to the Peninsula, where he was anxious to be put in a position to do something in his profession as a military man, which I inferred very plainly that be hoped to have had an opportunity of distinguishing himself as a soldier. His language and his deportment gave me the belief that he was, as he said, truly disappointed, and for the reason he assigned. The facts in the case would be best seen by a recital of the circumstances under which the orders were given.

The witness, with the permission of the court, referred to certain papers in his possession with a view of refreshing his memory in regard to dates, which papers he would place at the disposal of the court, should it so direct.

The witness continued:

In order to understand the case fully I think it necessary to refer to an order from the President, dated 31st January last.

The order was here produced and read by the recorder. It is President's Special Orders, Numbers 1, dated Executive Mansion, Washington, January 31, 1862, and is appended to the proceedings of this day and marked A.

The witness continued:

On the delivery of the order just read there must have been some plan from General McClellan proposing some other mode of operation. I have not that plan and am not able to produce it; but I have a paper from the President, dated February 3, which evidently followed it.

This paper was read by the recorder and is from Abraham Lincoln to Major-General McClellan, dated Executive Mansion, Washington, February 3, 1862, and is appended to the proceedings of this day, marked B.

The witness continued:

The President subsequently appears to have yielded his plan to that of General McClellan but in doing so issued this order, dated March 8.

The order was read by the recorder, and is President's General War Orders, Numbers 3, dated Executive Mansion, Washington, March 8, 1862, and is appended to this day's proceedings, marked C.

The witness continued:

That order led to a conference of the general officers commanding army corps, the result of which was reported March 13.