War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0624 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W., VA., MD., AND PA Chapter XXXI

Search Civil War Official Records

Question. You never heard General White say anything on the subject?

Answer. I do not remember that I have. [After a pause.] It seems to me that, after General White had written his letter to Colonel Miles, I had a conversation with him, in which the general gave me his reasons for not assuming command. I remember that he said that Colonel Miles was well acquainted with the ground; and that when he (General White) retreated from Winchester and fell back to Harper's Ferry, he was sent to Martinsburg to command a detached brigade while Colonel Miles was continued in command at Harper's Ferry, and he presumed from that that it was the desire of Major-General Wool to continue Colonel Miles in command at Harper's Ferry, no matter what might occur.

By General WHITE:

Question. Did you advise me to assume the command or not?

Answer. I did not advise you to assume the command at the time.

Question. Did you advise me not to?

Answer. I think I said that, perhaps, it would be better for you not to assume the command; that I approved your course; I think I did say that at the time, in view, also, that I knew that General White would do all he could, no matter in what capacity he might be placed, and the troops under him.

By the COURT:

Question. You state that you did not consider Colonel Miles fit to command, and still you advised General White not to assume the command. What was your reason for that?

Answer. I do not know that I advised him in conversations that I had with him. On the night previous to the surrender, or early in the morning, I saw General White on the ground. At that time I was fully convinced that Colonel Miles was not the officer for the position, and I think I made that remark to Colonel Willard and Colonel Stannard, that it would have been better if General White had assumed the command.

Question. That does not answer the question. The question, is that, believing Colonel Miles to be incompetent for the command, why did you advise General White not to assume the command?

Answer. The conversation I had with the general about the time we reached Harper's Ferry. It certainly was not on Sunday, because I do not know that I spoke to the general on Sunday, the day previous to the surrender. On Saturday I do not know that I saw General White.

Question. All that is not necessary. The question is, believing as you did that Colonel Miles was incompetent, unfit to command, why did you advise General White not to assume the command?

Answer. I have already stated, in answer to that question, that what I saw afterward, during the siege of Harper's Ferry, and previous to that, putting it all together on the Sunday night previous to the surrender I made up my mind that Colonel Miles was not competent to command; before that I had had this conversation with General White. Knowing, as he said, that General Wool desired Colonel Miles to retain command at Harper's Ferry, and that he had stated in his letter to Colonel Miles, as I had understood, that he offered his services and those of his command to Colonel Miles in any capacity he might be placed, I thought it would be better for both of them to work together in that way than for him to assume command, as, perhaps, Colonel Miles might get angry with him, and, perhaps, might give conflicting orders. Those were the reasons why I thought as I did at the time I had this conversation with General White.

After hearing his testimony read over, the witness made the following explanation in regard to that portion of his testimony where he said that it would be almost impossible for the enemy, coming from the direction of Pleasant Valley, to take possession of Maryland Heights, if there was any force at all to oppose them.

What I meant by that was the hill running along facing Sandy Hook is very difficult when held by an opposing force. I will also state that I took a view from the