War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0746 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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Question. Had you been associated with Colonel Miles long in command?

Answer. Only from the time I came from Winchester. The second day after I came from Winchester I rode down to Harper's Ferry, by the advice of General White, to take a room to be sick in, as I was extremely unwell. Colonel Miles gave me his orders, and I returned to camp and went to work. I saw a great deal of Colonel Miles; that is, he came out and called at my quarters several times.

Question. Do you think you saw enough of him and his conduct there to enable you to form an estimate of his capacity for such a command as he held there at Harper's Ferry?

Answer. I took some pains to avoid forming an incorrect opinion of Colonel Miles because I felt it was better to doubt my own judgment than to doubt the capability of my superior; and, moreover, I felt that having been appointed by an officer of large experience and observation - General Wood - that was of itself sufficient, in my estimation, to give me confidence in Colonel Miles as my superior in command. But before the conclusion of this matter I confess that all my faith and confidence in him were broken down utterly. I felt that he was totally unfit for such a command. I had not felt so up to the time that General White returned, for all that had happened up to that time had been his declining to do what I have spoken of, cutting down the forest and corn-fields, and building some defensive works. I supposed that he would show on the battle-field that he was a military commander.

By General WHITE:

Question. Do you recollect my consulting you as to the propriety of my assuming or not assuming the command when I reached Harper's Ferry from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state what advice or opinion you gave to me?

Answer. I asked you the evening you reached there from Martinsburg, ad we were riding along together, whether you would assume the command. You said you could not tell until you saw Colonel Miles. The next morning you called at my quarters and told me that Colonel Miles had not offered to give you the command, and that General Wool having so clearly indicated by his manifestations of preference for Colonel Miles that he desired him to be in command, you did not feel at liberty to assume it yourself. As you seemed to desire my opinion as to your conduct in that matter, I dad to you that, as I might desire you should take the command, I should not under the circumstances ask you to do so. The judge-advocate has asked me if I had had such opportunities as would enable me to form an opinion of Colonel Miles. I do not know as I have sufficient military judgment to form a correct opinion and estimate of a military commander, but I took great pains to try not to form a bad opinion of my superior. But, in the end, I was compelled to feel that Colonel Miles was not competent for such a command.


Question. In what points of character and conduct was that incapacity most manifest?

Answer. He seemed to want decision of character and firmness. He seemed to me to want energy and determination of character, and he seemed to me when the fighting came on - [After a pause.] It is with extreme reluctance that I speak of a superior officer who is now dead, and I would be very glad to avoid doing so. Colonel Miles treated me with a great deal of respect and courtesy and kindness, and I felt very anxious to think well of him as my superior officer.

Question. You were about to make some remark about his conduct when the fighting came on.

Answer. He was not there. He had left me without any plan of defense, without any instructions, without any authority to call for re-enforcements, when the enemy were advancing upon our line, leaving me, a young officer, in a very embarrassing position. That, moreover, at a time when there was great confusion among our teams and cavalry, and when in the One hundred and twenty-fifth New York Regiment a perfect stampede had taken place.