If I could feel gratification from such an influence, I might be flattered by the prompt and hearty indorsement General Crittenden's staff officers evidently gave to my suggestions.
As a matter of deep import, especially to the whole army, I desire respectfully, but most earnestly, to submit to the commanding general for the army whether the conduct of General Crittenden toward me in this whole transaction was proper and respectful, and whether the influence which it would appear that he allowed to decide a grave military question (with the very slight information the determining influence could bring to bear on the question) is, under such circumstances, the proper one. It strikes me the most fatal disasters are likely to befall us if such cursory examinations as Colonel Starling and Major Mendenhall made
to-day, with the conclusion based thereon, are to be put in competition with matured judgments based on full information.
In conclusion, general, I must beg your pardon for inflicting so long a communication on you, and can only offer as an apology the necessity of protecting myself against the deep professional and personal injury intended to be inflicted on me by General Crittenden's communication.
With high respect, I am, general, your obedient servant,
TH. J. WOOD,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-FIRST ARMY CORPS, Murphy's Valley Road, September 8, 1863-7.30 a.m.
I have said that I thought General Wood neglected his duty in delaying a reconnaissance, and I think the facts before me, which were submitted to headquarters, justified the statement. What followed in my communication to headquarters, of which General Wood complains at such length, was a statement of such information as I had gathered from General Wood's dispatches and other sources, stating the sources, however, that the general commanding might know what importance to attach to the information, and was no charge against General Wood. Whether he fell back or only changed his position is a question that I did not mean to decide, and will cheerfully agree to his own language on this point. By his own showing he changed his position from a "hazardous" to an "extremely hazardous" one. General Wood, in his communication, seems to forget that the general commanding as well as the commander of the corps are alike interested in the honor and security of his troops.
I sent two for my staff to explore the road from here toward General Wood for my own information, and their expedition had no connection whatever with the reconnaissance which General Wood was to make, nor on their return did they pretend to give any information as to General Wood's danger, save that which they had gathered from him. Their business was to inform me of the road and country from here to General Wood's position, and to search for a suitable camp in the event of the general commanding authorizing General Palmer's advance, and they performed it well. The question of the relative military merit of these officers of my staff and General Wood need not have been raised, for no troops were ordered