In obedience to that order General Thomas and myself examined the papers referred to in it, and made a joint report, of which this is a copy.
The recorder then read a report from Major-General Hitchcock and Brigadier General L. Thomas, dated Washington, D. C., April 2, 1862, which is appended to the proceedings of this day, marked L.
The witness continued:
I would state here that a part of the force to in General McClellan's report-General Blenker's division-had at that time been either ordered out of his department, or was soon to be, by the President himself, and could not properly be considered a part of the force for the defense of Washington in any sense, and was not to be delayed,even in the Shenandoah Valley. It was to go to what was called the Mountain Department, under General Fremont.
It will be observed presently that the President, in a letter to General McClellan, refers to the removal of Blenker's division as if it had been determined with the sanction of General McClellan, though reluctantly. When I heard of the design to remove that division from the front of Washington I expressed my opinion to the Secretary of War that it ought not to be done. He acquiesced at once in that view, and desired me to go with him to the President and explain it to the President, which I did, but without success. On returning to the War Office the importance of the point seemed to be so great that I made a written statement of my reasons March 30, which I gave to the President the next morning. This is a copy of those reasons.
The copy was read by the recorder; is dated March 30, 1862, and is appended to the proceedings of this day, marked M.
The witness continued:
This effort on my part failed. That division left the Shenandoah Valley. General Banks had been ordered into the valley because of the attack made by Jackson upon Shields. This still further reduced the force in front of Washington. I ought to state that Blenker did not leave that valley for some weeks, and because it was under orders which I could not succeed in having revoked; therefore his force was not to be counted upon for the defense of Washington. I had these particulars before my mind in signing the joint report with General Thomas. I considered, further, that the opinion of the four commanders of the corps d'armee, setting forth the force necessary for the security of Washington as confined to the city and its defense on the other side of the Potomac, extending as far as Manassas and Warrenton-that front in general, but that it did not include the valley of the Shenandoah; that the troops in that valley could not be withdrawn with safety was my clear and decided opinion. Looking, then, to the number of troops which might be counted upon for the protection of the city I could not make out 25,000 men as unit of force, including the occupation of the garrisons north and south of the river and the force within the city, after allowing the usual deduction for the sick, &c. When these reports came before the President he was manifestly under great anxiety. It was his declared wish to give to General McClellan all the force he called for and all of the means which could be thrown into his hands to execute his purpose,but finally, after much consideration, he determined to order one of the two remaining corps then in front of Washington to be detained here, leaving the selection with the Secretary of War, who designated the corps commanded by General McDowell. As soon as this was reported to General McClellan he complained of it as an interference with his command, calculated to lead to the most dangerous consequence. He asked for two of the three divisions constituting that corps (Franklin's and McCall's), and if he could not get two he was particularly anxious to have Franklin's division. The President came to the War Office in person and held a discussion of some length with several of the chiefs of bureaus in the War Department in the presence of the Secretary of War. I cannot from memory recite the particulars of that discussion. I was present and heard it. Some opinions were averse to sending any part of that force to the Peninsula. I think that one, and one officer only, was in favor of sending the whole of it. At length the President asked me, individually, whether I thought the city would be safe with the two divisions if Franklin should be sent away. I told him I thought it would be safe, and he then wrote the order for Franklin's division to go to General McClellan. General McDowell was not present at this consultation that I remember.
I now lay before the court a letter from the President, dated April 9. It contains the passage in reference to General Blenker which I referred to in my testimony. I place it before the court more particularly because it alludes to the force left for the defense of Washington.
The President's letter referred to was read by the recorder, and is appended to the proceedings of this day and marked N.