War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 1117 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records

having done so earlier than 3 o'clock, and the arrival at Bristoe Station took place, not at daylight, as directed by the order, but at twenty minutes past 10 of the forenoon of the 28th. If our army -a large part of it without ammunition - had not, in the meanwhile, been fallen upon and beaten, it was not because of any exertions made by the accused to prevent such a catastrophe, but simply because the enemy had not thought proper to make the anticipated attack.

The violation of this peremptory order is sought of be excused, or rather fully justified, by the accused on three grounds: First, the fatigue of his troops; second, the darkness of the night; third, the obstructions on the road growing out of breaks and difficult places in it, and the presence of wagons trains in motion.

A part of the troops had marched on the 27th from 17 to 19 miles; the remainder not so far. The command of General Sykes had marched but from 12 to 14 miles. A portion of them did not arrive at their encampment at Warrenton Junction until about sundown - half past 6 o'clock; the others arrived either; some of them as early as 10 o'clock in the morning. The generals who advised and participated in the determination not to move at 1 o'clock, deposed that their troops were very much exhausted. Had the order been obeyed, the troops reaching their encampment curliest would have had fifteen hours, while those arriving latest would have had six hours and a half for rest. Would not this have been sufficient to prepare them for a march of only 9 miles? Had they reached Bristoe Station at daylight, the march for none of them would have exceeded 28 miles in twenty-four hours, while for a large part of the command it would have been less. Does not the military history of the world show that in great emergencies such forced marches often occur, and that soldiers are fully capable of enduring them?

The early part of the night was starlit, and to unusually dark. At about 11 o'clock the sky became overcast, and the night grew very, or, as some of the witnesses express it, "extremely dark," and so continued until morning. It was a darkness, however, not complicated with cold, or rain, or storm. It is a noticeable fact, also, that the determination not to move at 1 o'clock, in obedience to the order, was not occasioned by this extreme darkness, but had been taken before Captain DeKay lay down, which was at 11 o'clock.

The first answer to the position taken in the defense, that in consequence of this darkness it was impossible to obey the order, is found in the testimony of Captain Duryea, who deposes that on the night of the 27th of August he marched with his command from Warrenton,and did not halt until about midnight, and that he did not experience any unusual difficulties growing out of the night.

Major S. F. Barstow was also on the march that night until 9 o'clock, and was up the following morning before daylight, and says:

I have no vivid recollection of that night beyond other nights. It seemed to me to be very much like other nights on which we moved.

He adds that no difficulty was experienced in marching the troops up to the hour at which they encamped.

Lieutenant-Colonel Myers, who, as chief quartermaster to General McDowell, charge of the trains passing over this road on the night of the 27th, states he was up nearly all that night. He was asked the following question:

Question. In view of the condition of the road, as you have described it, and also the character of the night, was or was not the movement of troops along that road practicable that night?