The effect upon the troops was excellent, and the policy, in my judgment, the best that could have been pursued.
Question. Was a supposed change in this policy the cause of any falling off in the discipline?
Answer. Yes, sir; very great and serious.
In fact the discipline of the troops at Fredericksburg in the early part of the occupation of that place was a matter of surprise to every one. Nothing was harmed, or when it was every measure was taken to detect and punish the offenders.
It is true I suffered from the representations made in the papers and to Congress, and when a change was supposed to have been made by my successor there was great satisfaction expressed. But soon the great and serious falling off in the discipline became so alarming that, on the representation of it to the commander-in-chief, he issued an order more stringent even than mine had been, and I see by one of the opening paragraphs in his recent report that the subject of his having been supposed to authorize what the papers proclaimed for him was a matter of serious annoyance.
It will be seen by a reference to General Orders, Numbers
, that the very system I pursued in my department, and which my successor was supposed to have changed, was adopted by the Government and made general for the whole Army.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE ENEMY'S COMMANDERS.
The subject of my correspondence with any of the enemy's commanders needs but a few words. All the correspondence I ever had is before the court. It was mainly concerning the widow of Robert E. Scott, esq., of Fauquier, whose husband had been murdered by our men, and whose death and made the deepest impression unfavorable to us of anything that had occurred in that part of the country since the beginning of the war. He was the prominent Union man of Virginia. I have been told on good authority that he would have been admitted in the Cabinet on the formation of the present Government.
His death was an event which the enemy sought to turn against us. So on grounds of policy as well as sincere sympathy for a delicate woman, left alone in the country with a young family, I was desirous of doing what I could to carry out her wishes. The correspondence, however, speaks for itself, and it is not necessary to refer to it further.
REDUCTION OF TRANSPORTATION AND CAMP EQUIPAGE CAUSE OF ILL-FEELING.
On the subject of the mobility of our troops, and the consequent complaints of officers and men, it will be seen from my orders that every effort was early made by me to reduce as far as possible the baggage train of the army, so that the troops might be in condition for active operations. These orders have some time since been made general for the whole Army by orders from the General-in-Chief.
I was, unfortunately, so far as I was personally concerned, ahead of my time in this respect, and the neighboring commanders not having the same rules, when troops from them joined me and came under my more stringent ones, they became dissatisfied, or my own men became so when they served with those who had greater allowance of camp equipage than my orders permitted. On this subject see the following evidence of Major Tillson: (Proceedings of December 8.)