igence for evidence in addition to that presented by the petitioner, especially such as might appear to have a bearing adverse to the claims urged by him.
Due care has been exercised not to inquire into the military operations of the Army of Virginia, or the conduct of officers thereof, any further than has seemed necessary to a full and fair elucidation of the subject submitted to us for investigation. On the other hand, we have not hesitated to examine fully into all the facts, accurate knowledge of which seemed to us to be necessary to the formation of a correct judgment upon the merits of the case, and to the determination of the action which justice requires should be taken by the President on the petitioner's application for relief.
We have had the benefit of the testimony of a large number of officers of the late Confederate Army, a kind of testimony which was not available at the time of General Porter's trial by court-martial. We have also availed ourselves of the testimony of many officers and soldiers of the Union forces who were present on the battle-field, and of much documentary evidence, to throw additional light upon points not made perfectly clear in the record of evidence taken before the court-martial; and we have had the use of accurate maps of the battle-field of Manassas, constructed from recent actual surveys made, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, by a distinguished officer of that corps, who was himself a participant in that battle.
Without such a map neither the testimony upon which General Porter was convicted nor the additional testimony submitted to this board could have been correctly understood.
The evidence which we have thus been able to examine, in addition to that which was before the court-martial, has placed beyond question many important facts which were before the subjects of dispute, and in respect to some of which radically erroneous opinions were entertained by General Porter's accusers, and doubtless by the court-martial that pronounced him guilty.
The result has been, as we believe, to establish beyond reasonable doubt all the facts essential to the formation of a correct judgment upon the merits of the case of Fitz John Porter. We are thus enabled to report, with entire unanimity, and without doubt in our own minds, with the reasons for our conclusions, what action, in our opinion, justice required should be taken by the President on the petitioner's application for relief.
The evidence presents itself under several distinct heads, viz:
First. The imperfect, and in some respects erroneous, statements of facts, due to the partial and incorrect knowledge in possession of witnesses at the time of the court-martial, and the extremely inaccurate maps and erroneous locations of troops thereupon, by which erroneous statements were made to convey still more erroneous impressions.
Second. The opinions and inferences of prominent officers based upon this imperfect knowledge.
Third. The far more complete and accurate statements of facts now made by a large number of eye-witnesses from both the contending forces.
Fourth. The accurate maps of the field of operations and the exact positions of troops thereon at different periods of time, by which statements otherwise contradictory or irreconcilable are shown to be harmonious, and opposing opinions are shown to have been based upon different views of the same military situation; and,
Finally. The conflicting testimony relative to plans of operations, in