As Longstreet's army pressed forward to strike Pope's exposed left wing a flank, Warren, with his little brigade, sprang into the gap and breasted the storm until but a handful of his brave men were left alive. Then Sykes, with his disciplined brigades, and Reynolds, with his gallant Pennsylvania Reserves, seized the commanding ground in rear, and, like a rock, withstood the advance of the victorious enemy and saved the Union army from rout.
Thus did this gallant corps nobly and amply vindicate the character of their trusted chief, and demonstrate to all the world that "disobedience of orders" and "misbehavior in the presence of the enemy" are crimes which could not possibly find place in the head or heart of him who thus commanded that corps.
These events of the 30th of August were excluded from the evidence before the court-martial that tried General Porter; but justice requires that they should be mentioned here as having an important bearing upon the question of animus, which was so strongly dwelt upon in the review of Porter's case by the Judge-Advocate-General.
The foregoing is the simple history of the part taken by Porter and his corps in the events which gave rise to the following charges and specifications, findings and sentence, and executive action.*
* * * * * *
These charges and specifications certainly bear no discernible resemblance to the facts of the case as now established. Yet it has been our duty to carefully compare with these facts the views entertained by the court-martial, as shown in the findings and in the review of the case which was prepared for the information of the president by the Judge-Advocate-General who had conducted the prosecution, and thus to clearly perceive every error into which the court-martial was led. We trust it is not necessary for us to submit in detail the results of this comparison, and that it will be sufficient for us to point out the fundamental errors, and to say that all the essential facts in every instance stand out in clear and absolute contrast to those supposed facts upon which General Porter was adjudged guilty.
The fundamental errors upon which the conviction of General Porter depended may be summed up in few words. It was maintained, and apparently established to the satisfaction of the court-martial, that only about one-half of the Confederate Army was on the field of Manassas on the 29th of August, while General Lee, with the other half, was still beyond the Bull Run Mountains; that General Pope's army, exclusive of Porter's corps, was engaged in a severe and nearly equal contest with the enemy, and only needed the aid of a flank attack which Porter was expected to make to insure the defeat and destruction or capture of the Confederate force in their front under General Jackson; that McDowell and Porter, with their joint forces, Porter's leading, had advanced toward Gainesville until the head of their column had reached a point near the Warrenton turnpike, where they found a division of Confederate troops, "seventeen regiments," which Buford had counted as they passed through Gainesville, marching along the road across Porter's front, and going toward the field of battle at Groveton; that McDowell ordered Porter to at once attack that column thus moving to join Jackson, or the flank and rear of the line if they had formed in line, while he would take his own troops by the Sudley Springs road and throw them upon the enemy's center near Groveton; that Porter, McDowell having them separated from him, disobeyed that order to attack, al-
*Here follows a duplicate of General Orders, Numbers 18, printed on pp. 507-512.