which loses its colors without being able to show that their loss was attended with a glorious and persistent effort to defend them should be deprived of the right to bear others until, by its subsequent conduct in battle, it should earn the right, I published General Orders Numbers 63, although fully aware of the fact that all the regiments named had fought gallantly during the campaign, and that the colonel of this very regiment was an old and intimate friend and staff officer of my own, who had bravely fallen at its head at Cold Harbor. I considered that a stern sense of duty to myself and the command required the example to be made. Facts developed subsequently, have fully confirmed me in this impression, and it is highly probable that I shall shortly be called upon to perform the pleasing duty of restoring to two of these regiments their colors for gallantry in the recent action near Hatcher's Run. I do not recommend that the order be revoked, or that the colors the restored in any other way. The fourth case in the division was not overlooked, as implied in General Hancock's indorsement, but was omitted at the time, because, from the capture of the commanding officer and most of the regiment, the facts could not be investigated, as distinctly stated in my letter of the 2nd instant,* asking that the order might be modified, not countermanded, as stated by General Hancock. I do not desire the order countermanded, being fully convinced of the beneficial effects of it upon my command. when the colors are restored it shall be done in such a way that the men shall feel a pride which shall entirely overshadow any previous disgrace they may have been subjected to.
In closing this report, I trust it will not be out of place to call attention to the irregular manner in which the case comes up. A paper dated at Washington, September 30, 1864, headed, "We, the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, now in Richmond," and signed by George E. Albee, Second lieutenant Company F, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, is made the occasion of an indignant protest by Governor Randall against what he characterizes as a gross act of injustice done through entire misapprehension. I respectfully submit that Governor Randall knows nothing authentic upon a subject which he has characterized in such strong terms, and have no doubt he would consider it very much out of place in me, a soldier, to so characterize any act of his, on the one-sided representations of one of the manor clerks in the Post-Office Department. The act was neither one of gross injustice, nor was it committed under an entire misapprehension. I will not yield to Governor Randall or any one else in the desire to do justice to the heroic devotion of Wisconsin soldiers in this war, and I think there are few officers in the service who have had as good an opportunity to form a judgment on the subject. This regiment was assigned to my command at my special request, on the application of its late gallant commander, Colonel Haskell, a member of the old Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, which, together with the Second and Seventh from the same State, served so long under my command that I could confidently appeal to the whole of them to state whether, whatever mt other defects as a soldier may have been, I was ever grossly unjust to any of them. The papers in the case are herewith returned.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.
*See p. 40.