War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0741 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records


April 25, 1863.

GENERAL: My attention has been recently called to Brigadier General I. R. Trimble's report of the capture of Manassas on the night of August 26 and 27. As affecting my own official report of the matter, it is proper I should state the following as addendum to my report, and request that it be so filed, together with the corroborating statements of Surgeon Eliason (with me at the time) and Colonel Wickham,* who show wherein General Trimble is in error in his report.

Human memory is frail, I know, and while in what I have said or may say on this subject my recollection is as vivid as upon any other contemporaneous event about which there is no difference, I lay no claim to inability, and I am very far from imputing to the veteran General Trimble any improper intention or motive in what he has said. Wishing to be brief, I hope the accompanying papers A and B, referred to above, and also General Trimble's papers of January 6 and April 10 and my own official report, be attentively read; what follows will then be better understood. The idea, which, strange to say, never entered General Trimble's head, never for one moment left mine, that he was under my command on that occasion, it is hard to account for, and yet I remember that he sent me no message upon the capture of Manassas, but sent it direct to General Jackson, and besides he failed to submit to me his official report, which he should have done. I attributed these omissions to a certain jealousy of authority, which officers older in years are apt to feel toward a young superior in rank, and never suspected that the question of my being in command was involved in any kind of doubt in his mind. I received instructions from General Jackson, and was told by him that Trimble's brigade would be sent to me. I pushed on with the cavalry to surprise the place, but the train which ran the gauntlet at Bristoe put the garrison on the alert. I awaited Trimble's arrival to make the attack, as well as to give Wickham more time with his regiment to seize the avenues in rear of Manassas, which he did in a very creditable manner, as shown in his report.

Now, as to the interview when General Trimble came up, he says: "It was arranged between General Stuart and myself that I should form line," & c. How arranged? I was a major-general, he a brigadier; I assigned specially to this duty and notified that General Trimble would report to me. It is true I am not in the habit of giving orders, particularly to my seniors in years, in a dictatorial and authoritative manner, and my manner very likely on this occasion was more suggestive than imperious; indeed, I may have been content to satisfy myself that the dispositions which he himself proposed accorded with my own ideas, without any blustering show of orders to do this or do that. My recollections is clear that I indicated that the center should rest on the railroad. The cavalry under Wickham had already been sent long before Trimble's arrival to seize the avenues of escape and await events. Wickham, Eliason, and myself have corresponding impressions without conference as to the events of the night. Wickham says he carried out his instructions to the letter, and reported to General Trimble as soon as the place was taken. He says the first fire occurred about 12 o'clock, and that it was about 2 a. m. before any further firing was heard, and then the place was taken. General Trimble says the place was taken at 12.30 a. m. Eliason thinks it was even later than 2 o'clock; so do I. All accounts agree, General Trimble's too, that the place was taken


* Colonel Wickham's statement not found.