Answer. I was under his command for the first time at Bull Run. My regiment started on the 17th of May, and I came under his command on the 22nd of May, and remained under his command until after the battle of Bull Run.
Question. How long were you under his command at Harper's Ferry?
Answer. From the 2nd of September until the 15th.
Question. Were you in the habit of receiving orders from Colonel Miles?
Answer. Yes, sir; written and verbal.
Question. Was Colonel Miles in the habit of giving conflicting orders?
Answer. He was my immediate superior, and is not dead. I do not know as that question should be answered. If the court think I should answer it, I will.
The court decided that the question should be answered.
The witness then answered:
Yes, sir; he was. He sometimes gave written orders, and then almost instantaneously contradicted them verbally. I would state, as an example, he came up to my tent and said, "Well, my boy, we shall be starved out." I made a verbal application and then a written application for permission to go out and procure food. He replied, "We have plenty; enough; we do not need it." When he gave such orders, when reminded of them, he usually corrected them.
Question. Did this occur frequently with Colonel Miles?
Answer. It happened often; it happened several times with me.
Question. From your knowledge of Colonel Miles from the time you were first acquainted with him until the surrender of Harper's Ferry, do you believe he was morally, mentally, and physically competent to command such a force as was at Harper's Ferry?
Answer. There is an old Latin saying that "of the dead never anything but good." The opinion I have formed may conflict with the opinion of others, and, unless the court desire it, I do not think such an opinion should be given.
Colonel Ford insisted upon the question.
The court decided that, as a pretty wide range had been accorded to this investigation, the question should be answered.
The witness then answered:
I think that, during the later part of the time, Colonel Miles was broken down, in consequence of previous abuse. I knew him at Harper's Ferry, where he was the strictest model of abstinence. I have studied medicine some little, and I thought that broke him down, as I knew him on former occasions as rather a good drinker. The sudden changing to new habits I think did him much harm. I spoke with him one day on the subject, and said to him, "I believe you will ruin yourself." He said, "I took an oath never to touch a drop, and I have not done it." I believe that sudden abstinence injured him greatly.
By Colonel FORD:
Question. You have not answered my question directly.
Answer. I did not consider him fit to command such a force.
By the COURT:
Question. You commenced a few minutes since to read an order from Colonel Miles in regard to Maryland Heights. We would like to hear that, if you please.
Answer. This is it:
Colonel Ford, commanding Thirty-second Ohio, will march his regiment as soon as possible, and take post on Maryland Heights, as its commander, for the protection of the battery at that post, and to maintain, at all hazards, that height.
Here is a letter of September 9, which relates to the instance I gave a few minutes since of conflicting orders from Colonel Miles:
The colonel commanding instructs me to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this a. m., and directs me to say it would give him great pleasure to accede to your request, but that he has already twenty days' provisions on hand in that line.