juncture I reported to him that I thought that was the time for General Warren to be put in promptly. Soon after that time, and before it would have been possible for to have sent any other intelligent report, I received orders to withdraw the troops to our own intrenchments. During the engagement General Meade also received from Captain Sanders, his aide-de-camp, who was at my headquarters, certainly three written dispatches and one verbal dispatch, which he acknowledges, independent of the verbal dispatch which I speak of giving to him before the explosion of the mine. I desire to say that Captain Sanders was near me constantly, knows that I never failed to give an aide-de-camp, situated as he is, every possible information, heard all my conversation with my aides-de-camp, and I think had free access to every dispatch and report that reached me from the front or from my division commanders. I learned personally, in presence of General Humphreys, chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac, that that was the understanding of Captain Sanders.
There were some papers which I desired to have removed from the record of this Court in consequence of certain conditions which surrounded them, and which this Court has made a very proper decision upon; but as they form a portion of the record it becomes necessary for me also to state some of the circumstances which surround one of these papers, which was a dispatch sent by me to General Meade containing an objectionable remark, which will be recognized on the record by all the members of the Court. In conversation with two mutual friends of General Meade and myself, I became satisfied that I had misunderstood the note which he had sent from the front on that morning.
I obtained permission to go to City Point to see General Grant, and I stated to him the circumstances of the case, among other things upon which we conversed. I left him with the understanding that I should return and withdraw the letter which I had written to General Meade. General Wilson, of the cavalry, was present at this interview. I returned to my headquarters and found upon my table charges preferred against me, and a request that I should be relieved from command in this army, against neither of which have I any complaint to make, but simply make this explanation to remove any responsibility from the shoulder of General Meade which might possibly attach to the letter which he wrote to me, and which I imagined at the time indicated a belief on his part that I was not disposed to tell him the truth on the day of the action.
When I went to my headquarters at my permanent camp and learned from General Meade himself that the order to withdraw was final, I at the same time learned that offensive operations had ceased on both the flanks of the line which we had occupied and to which we were ordered to withdraw. I have stated to the Court as well as I know how the means taken by me to effect that withdrawal securely, with one exception, I think is that I started General Ferrero off at once with definite instructions to put all the force that he could get to work to dig a trench or trenches from our old line to the crater, in order that our men might come out, and that he started off on the moment. What followed that will no doubt be inquired into by the Court.
Soon after I learned that offensive operations were to cease on our flanks it became evident that all the operations of this corps were to be independent. General Meade left my headquarters; made no request of me for information; I received no dispatch from him until the evening of the day after which the troops were driven out of the crater, and, to a certain extent, were re-established in our own lines. The negligence on my part to report after that time I will not attempt to justify myself for by any reasons before this Court, inasmuch as it will probably become the subject of charges pertaining to things that took place long after the troops had come inside of our own lines.
I should not dwell so fully upon my rule of conduct in matters of this kind but for the fact that matters of a like nature have been elaborated upon in evidence which now lies before this Court. I can readily conceive General Meade's anxiety which would induce him to write frequent dispatches, but in my rule of conduct with my officers I have rather cultivated the idea that frequent dispatches, unless they are well authenticated, are not desirable, particularly dispatches with reference to the condition of the troops and calls for re-enforcements.
I endeavored during my movements on that day to obey every order that was given to me. I put every single man of the Ninth Corps in action. I was not called upon to fight a field fight; there was no opportunity to maneuver troops; there was no discretion about looking out for flanks beyond that which fell upon commanders managing their troops in action; there was simply an obligation on my part to rush these troops through the crater and gain the top of the crest without reference to formation; and I put three divisions in as promptly as I knew how, and when I received the order to put my whole force in, I threw the Fourth Division in with the most positive and distinct orders to my division commanders, given in the evidence before this Court. I had no possible chance to push batteries forward to protect the