General Ransom complains in both papers of the conduct of the brigade on the 10th, and in his indorsement says: "I am happy to state that on the 16th instant, under Colonel Fry, this brigade performed its part well."
The officers of the brigade agree that it behaved better on the 10th than on the 16th, and I am prepared to prove that General Ransom complained bitterly to Colonel Fry on the 16th of the misconduct of the brigade on that day.
I have thus disposed of the special instances alleged by General Ransom as misconduct. The reason assigned by General Ransom for his frequently-expressed opinion of my incompetency to command, namely, "the result of Gracie's coming in and meeting little opposition, together with the fact of the enemy's not attempting to press so signal an advantage, convinced me that General Barton was not equal to a proper management of troops under the ordinary emergencies of battle," is, to say the least, illogical and inconsequential, as it is not easy to perceive what connection General Gracie not finding opposition (who did not come up till after the fight, nor pass over the field of battle) or the enemy's failure to use his advantage had to do with my competency to command. As for his opinion itself of my inability to manage troops and "general want of apparent vigor," I will only respond by referring to that expressed by all the officers of the brigade, who have seen much service on many a hard-fought field. If General Ransom thinks vehemence of action, speech, and gesture more indicative of "vigor" than quietness of demeanor I do not agree with him, and have always considered that true vigor and energy are rather to be found in those who keep cool and retain quiet possession of all their faculties.
I feel that I should be grossly derelict in my duty to close this lengthy communication without protesting against the imputations cast by General Ransom upon the gallant brigade which I had the honor to command, though it does seem almost superfluous to say anything in regard to a command which has borne itself so nobly o so many occasions; but I fell it incumbent upon the to deny emphatically the charges of straggling, &c., so recklessly made. The straggling was the least I have ever seen in action. As soon as the new position was taken up the rolls were called and only 34 men found missing, of whom 9 subsequently to my report came in wounded. The casualties amounted to 249, out of less than 1,500 engaged.
The circumstances under which this paper has been written, and the haste proceeding from my anxiety to present it at once, have prevented the subject being treated in a manner satisfactory to myself, and the fear of adding to its already too great prolixity induces me to pass without notice some of the statements contained in the papers referred to me.
Believing, however, that this communication, together with my report, will embrace all the material points, I will only add that I invite the closest scrutiny and the most rigid investigation into my conduct and that of the brigade, which have been unjustly and causelessly assailed.
I am, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,
S. M. BARTON,