What a confession is here! The commanding general of the Army of Virginia comes to Washington to have his eyes opened; to see aright in the light of alleged criminality my military acts,done under his orders, in the dark night of the 27th of August, at Warrenton Junction, or on the critical and anxious day of the 29th of August, on the road to Gainesville, or on the perilous ridge of battle, where it raged at the field of Bull Run, on the eventful day of the 30th. I ask this court to consider whether all this be not without example. What has happened to General Pope? He has indicated in his testimony that when in Washington his eyes rested upon certain telegrams, by which they were opened to discern my guilt. Where are these mystical proofs of crime? Let them be produced? Are they the communications which passed, by the telegraph, between me and General Burnside, and which, I with great painstaking, have crowded into the case as part of my defense, against the manifest reluctance and even in reversal of the rulings of this honorable court, which at first deemed their exclusion its duty, because of their supposed irrelevancy? Are they the three or four telegraphic communications from me to General Burnside, which were introduced in evidence by the prosecution, with my cordial assent, and which I would have introduced without hesitation, if the prosecution had not presented them? If these papers prove my guilt, or tend to prove it, or raise a reasonable suspicion of intention on my part to fail my commanding general, sacrifice the army of my country, and betray its cause, then let words and letters, in which such damming guilt is manifested, be set forth, so that all men may read my criminality with its doom.
I have done my part to accomplish all this, if it be of possible accomplishment. I have furnished to the newspapers the entire mass of these papers, and, so far as I could do it, have scattered them over the land as proofs that I was thoughtful, watchful, provident, laborious, incessantly and zealous in duty, willing to assume responsibility, and assuming it at Williamsburg and elsewhere to reach quicker than the quickest the Army of Virginia, when I knew that the rebels had moved in mass to destroy it. But I will not go on upon this point. I respectfully state to the court that I did not do all this under the eyes of McClellan, and Burnside, and Tucker, and Morell, and Sykes, and Reynolds, and Butterfield, and Griffin, and the rest who testify that they saw me do it, in ceaseless labor and carefulness, by night and by day, in spite of sickness and in spite of weariness, with the purpose to fail that army or its commander in their hour of peril, and shamefully to betray them and almost inevitably the loved and noble corps which was then my own into the jaws of danger and death. It was not ot his dire end, it was not [to] this fell purpose, that I watched and took counsel in the night of the 27th of Warrenton, and then strove to do my best duty there in hurrying forward as fast as I could, in obedience to orders, before the morning dawned; or that I pushed on toward Gainesville on the morning of the 29th, as ordered; or that I held my all-important position through the anxious afternoon of that day, to divide and distract the enemy and hold his massing forces in check; or that, on the morning of the 30th, I plunged into the thick of the fight while that same enemy which I had confronted and held from advancing the day before moved swiftly on, just as when, under the imperative order of 8.50 p.m. of the 29th, I left my strong position, and thus opened his road I feared he would move to make his furious onset upon our left flank. Personally I was glad to be with my corps where the fight raged on the 30th. But I state my deliberate judgment as a military man that, but for that