If, therefore, there was a single point in the order in regard to which all direction in executing it was precluded, it is this very point of not leaving my artillery behind. To have so left it would have been to make a false military movement, unwarranted by any known example, incompatible with efficient action by my corps at Bristoe, and in direct violation of a positive order.
It is stated by General Pope in his testimony that the want of ammunition in General Hooker's division, then in the near vicinity of Bristoe Station, was an immediate and principal cause of the urgent terms in the order directing me to hasten forward. To this I reply that no such cause of urgency is alluded to in the order itself, though it makes express reference to the state and position of General Hooker's division, nor is there in the whole case a single word of proof tending to show that I knew or suspected, or in any way could have known, that his ammunition was nearly exhausted.
It should also be borne in mind that the very trains upon the railroad, which General Pope directed me to have hurried forward to Bristoe Station, under the superintendence of Colonel Clary, were themselves laden in part with the ammunition which, though I did not know the fact, was there needed. That after the commencement of the march, at 3 o'clock, no personal efforts of my own or of the officers under me were spared to hasten on the movement is, I believe, conceded. Captain DeKay himself on this point testifies that both myself and the officers of my staff made great personal exertions to clear away the wagons at the points where the obstructions occurred.
General Pop testifies that I sent two or three messengers to him to request his aid in clearing the road, and Colonel Brinton, whose regiment was at Catlett's Station, testifies that when he left me, at about 12 o'clock that night, I made the same request to him, and that he detailed a command for the purpose. I understand, also, that my execution of all the precautionary details embraced in the order is not disputed, and that the only point on which I am charged with disobedience to it is in commencing my march at three o'clock in the morning, instead of at one.
The facts upon which I exercised this direction are fully before the court, and I leave them with all confidence to its judgment. The right of a general commanding an army corps to exercise a judicious discretion in regard to the best method of executing an order from his commanding general at a distance - and in this case General Pope and myself were 10 miles apart - is too well settled both in military law and military practice to admit of a question. Among the many authorities which may be cited to this point, a single one will suffice. In the work entitled "Napoleon's Maxims of War," published at Paris in 1830, and translated by the Count d'Aguilar, and published in 1861, with a recommendatory preface by Lieutenant-General Scott, at page 42 of the Paris edition occurs the following passage:
A military order exacts passive obedience only when it is given by a superior who is present on the spot at the moment when he gives it. Having then knowledge of the state of things, he can listen to the objections and give the necessary explanations to him who should execute the order.
This is ont only military law and authority, by it is the only view compatible with the nature of military service or the dictates of common sense. But if the right to side, upon his responsibility, a just and salutary direction within proper limits is thus vested in every commanding officer, under the circumstances referred to, them it is equally