Conscious that my troops had been subjected to unjust reproach, and that my reputation as their commander and as a soldier had been reviled, I was glad to have this opportunity for vindication - the only means open to me - for on every principle binding the soldier, silence was imposed upon me, when the same order which relieved me from command directed me to await a Court of Inquiry upon my conduct.
I am conscious, too, that the testimony which has been introduced, while it may enable the court to respond to the questions which are vital to myself, has fallen far short of enabling it to report fully upon the battle of Chickamauga, and whatever you may think of the conduct of its commander, surely you must conclude that it was a hurried and a hard sentence which blotted out of existence the Twentieth Army Corps, while others not nearly so large, nor so sorely smitten in battle, have been allowed to retain their organization and recruit their ranks.
The Court will bear me witness that, except where absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of my own conduct, I have abstained from any questions as to the conduct of others, and the same rule shall govern me in the remarks I make upon the testimony.
Indeed, if it were not a departure from the custom in such cases, I fell that I might refrain from this, and submit my cause without a word. If the Court shall be as impartial in judgment as it has been patient and fair in the hearing, I shall be well content.
On the 17th of September, 1863, the Twentieth Army Corps, wearied by its marches over mountain roads toward Rome, Ga., returned and effected its junction with General Thomas by the Winston's Gap. which the latter advised to be the only practicable road. It went into camp at Pond Spring, 7 miles from the slopes of Mission Ridge, at Widow Glenn's house, and only 15 miles from Chattanooga, the objective point of the recent army movements.
It remained the all the day of the 18th, waiting to close up "when General Thomas is out of the way." His troops marched that night, and before daylight the Twentieth Corps started, Johnson's division leading, and when it reached headquarters it was immediately ordered to Thomas.
Davis followed, and received the same order to report to Thomas.
Johnson's and Davis' divisions and one brigade of Sheridan's were heavily engaged on the 19th; Davis losing one brigade commander killed, Sheridan 1 wounded.
But i need not delay the court with any resume of the operations of the 19th. My field orders are before the court,and it is enough to say they were obeyed. "I was with General McCook the entire day, and I fell certain they were explicitly obeyed." (Major Thurston's re-examination.)
At dark on the 19th, I went to the council at Widow Glenn's house. At midnight the orders were resolved upon, and I left to rouse my troops and move them to their position for the struggle of the 20th.
Before daylight I reported at Glenn's house that they were moving.
The positions selected were seen by General Morton, the chief of engineer, who testifies that they were "eminently judicious." General Davis testifies he "is confident they could have held against any attack in front."