War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0124 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

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2nd July; and, if you have no objection to so doing, the commanding general desires that you will furnish him, in the course of to-day, with a short statement, giving your recollection of what transpired at the council, and mentioning whether he at any time insisted on the withdrawal of the army from before Gettysburg.

By command of

Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HDQRS. FIFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

March 10, 1864.

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: I have seen in late papers, and in the speech of a member of the United States Senate, statements charging you with having ordered a retreat of the army at the battle of Gettysburg. I commanded a corps in that battle; was present at a meeting on the night of the 2nd and 3rd of July, when yourself end corps commanders discussed the events then taking place; remember distinctly the number of soldiers we thought we could take into action after the fight on the 2d; remember more distinctly the expressed determination of each commander present to fight that battle out then and there, and never received or heard of any order directing a retreat of the army.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. SYKES,

Major-General, Commanding Fifth Corps.

HDQRS. FIRST ARMY CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

March 10, 1864.

Brigadier General S. Williams,

Asst. Adjt. General Hdqrs.

Army of the Potomac: GENERAL: Your circular note of this date, in relation to reports to the effect that the commanding general advocated a retreat of the army on the 2nd day of July las, and particularly in reference to the proceedings of a council of war, held on the night of the 2d, has been received. In reply, I have to state that I was frequently with the commanding general on that day, and was likewise present at the council, and nothing that I heard him say has ever given me the impression that he insisted on the withdrawal of the army from before Gettysburg. There was a discussion in the council, not concerning a retreat, but concerning the dispositions proper to make should the enemy endeavor to turn our position, by getting between us and Emmitsburg, by passing entirely around our left flank, and I imagine this to have been the exclusive foundation of such report to the prejudice of the commanding general.

Respectfully, your most obedient servant,

JOHN NEWTON,

Major-General, Commanding.