War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 0998 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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Brigadier General GEORGE SYKES called by the accused, and sworn and examined as follows:


Question. Will you state your rank and position in the army?

Answer. I am a brigadier-general of volunteers and major of regulars.

Question. To what corps were you attached in August last?

Answer. I commanded a division under General Fitz John Porter, of the Fifth Army Corps.

Question. If you were in General Porter's tent on the evening of the 27th of August, at the time when Captain DeKay brought General Porter an order from General Pope, will you state the conversation which then occurred, or immediately afterward, as nearly as you can recollect it, and what was done about that order?

Answer. About 10 p. m. on the 27th of August, General Porter sent for me. We were then encamped at Warrenton Junction, Va. In his tent I met General Morell, General Buterfield, and Captain Drake DeKay. General Porter informed me that he had received an order by the hands of Captain DeKay, directing his corps to march at 1 o'clock a. m. on the 28th. We talked it over among ourselves, and thought that nothing was to be gained by moving at midnight or 1 a. m. rather that at dawn. I was very positive in my opinion, and gave General Porter my reasons: They were, first, that a night march is always exceedingly fatiguing and injurious to troops; that my command had already marched from 12 or 14 miles that day; that I thought the darkens would course confusion; that a constant stream of wagons had passed ahead of us from the time my command reached Warrenton Junction until dusk; and, above all, I thought that as but two hours or three hours at most would elapse between 1 o'clock and daylight, we could make the march in much better order, and march more rapidly, by starting at darn that if we started at the hour prescribed. I might add that General Porter made his decision not to move until daylight, and I took it that that decision was based upon his own experience and upon the opinions of the three general officers in his corps next in rank to himself.

Question. Did you understand the hour for the movement of the troops to be fixed at 3 o'clock?

Answer. I cannot say that I did. But as my division led, I know the hours at which I fixed the reveille and the advance. Reveille in my own division was beaten at 2 or 2 1/2 o'clock a. m., and the advance was sounded as soon as I could distinguish the road. I generally allow an hour and a half or two hours between reveille and the advance.

Question. State the character of the night, and any reports made to you by your aides as to the difficulties in starting before daylight, if any such were made.

Answer. The night was unusually dark. Before I directed the advance to be sounded, I sent and aide-de-camp to find the road, so as to lead the column upon it. He returned in a short time, and told me that the darkness was so great that he could not distinguish the road. He also told me that he was assisted in that search by several soldiers.

Question. State what you recollect of any difficulties which you met with in the road which impeder your march that morning, and what steps were taken to remove such difficulties, if any existed.

Answer. As i anticipated, we ran upon this train of wagons within 2 miles of my camp; they encumbered the road for miles. Myself and staff officers were constantly engaged in opening the way for the head of my column. On several occasions I had to take my mounted escort, and place them on the road, with drawn sabers, to prevent the wagons form closing up any interval that occurred. I do not think that in my military life I ever had so much trouble with a train as I had that day. The wagons-masters and teamsters were alike insubordinate. About 2 miles from Bristoe Station, a stream crossed the road. On the Bristoe side of stream, General Porter and his staff officers directed and compelled all those wagons to be parked, so that none of them should precede my troops. That order was carried out. I was compelled to halt the head of my command on the Bristoe side of that