War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 1128 OPERATIONS IN N.VA., W.VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

A glance at the map which accompanies the record will show that the ground in question is embraced by this boundary and description.

It may be admitted - and perhaps the testimony requires the admission to be made - that in falling upon the enemy on the afternoon of the 29th, the accused would have encountered both difficulty and danger; but difficulty and danger, in time of war, are daily and hourly in the category of the soldier's life. Their presence should be for him not a discouragement, but an inspiration. To grapple with them should be his ambition; to overcome them, his glory.

That a vigorous attack upon the enemy by the accused, at any time between 12 o'clock, when the battle began, and dark, when it closed, would have secured a triumph for our arms, and not only the overthrow of the rebel forces, but probably the destruction or capture of Jackson's army, the record fully justifies us in maintaining. This opinion, in effect, is emphatically expressed by General Pope, McDowell, and Roberts, and by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, all of whom participated in the engagement, and were well qualified to judge. General Roberts, who was on the field throughout the day, says:

I do not doubt at all that it would have resulted in the defeat, if not in the capture, of the main army of the Confederates that were in the field at that time.

To the same effect is the following explicit language of General Pope:

Late in the afternoon of the 29th - perhaps half-past 5 or 6 o'clock - about the time that I hoped General Porter would be in his position and assaulting the enemy on the flank, and when General McDowell had himself arrived with his corps on the field of battle, I directed an attack to be made on the left of the enemy's line, which was handsomely done by Heintzelman's and Reno's corps. The enemy was driven back in all direction, and left a large part of the ground, with his dead and wounded upon it, in our possession. Had General Porter fallen upon the flank of the enemy, as it was hoped, at any time up to 8 o'clock that night, it is my firm conviction that we should have destroyed the army of Jackson.

Even had the attack itself failed, General McDowell states that the number of troops which would have been withdrawn from the main battle by the enemy to effect this result would have so far relieved our center as to render our victory complete. When we recall the calamities already suffered by our country, and contemplate the untold griefs to the homes and hearts of its people which may yet follow from the escape of that army on that day, we can appreciate with some approach to accuracy the responsibilities incurred by a line of conduct which so certainly and so fatally led to that disaster.

The first, second, and third specifications of the second charge arraign the conduct of the accused on the 29th under the Fifty-second Article of War, as "misbehavior before the enemy." If a soldier disobeys the order of his superior officer before the enemy he commits a double crime, by violating both the Ninth and Fifty-second Articles of War, and he may be prosecuted and convicted of either or both offenses. So any other breach of duty, connected with military movements and occurring in the presence of the enemy, has assigned to it by the Articles of War a depth of criminality which would not belong to it under other and ordinary circumstances. This results from the increased disaster likely to follow from misconduct in such a conjuncture, and from the fact that insensibility to duty is doubly criminal when displayed in the midst of those dangers which ever inspire the true soldier with renewed devotion to the honor and interests of his flag. The accused is shown to have been, with is command, in the presence of the enemy from the beginning to the end of the battle of the 29th - a period of at