HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 11, 1864.
T. W. EGAN,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Division.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 14, 1864.
I cannot better show my views on this subject than by transmitting herewith the correspondence already had in the premises. It will be seen that I objected to the order unless it was applied to the service generally. After the publication of the order of General Meade, in disregard of my indorsement, I appealed to General grant, asking that the order might be revoked, on the ground that it was retrospective with reference to the three regiments named, and to no others, though other regiments in my own command (a list of which had been furnished General Meade) had lost colors at the same time and regiments of another corps a few days previously. I also judged from the wording of General Meade's order that the names of regiments hereafter losing colors would not be spread before the public in orders, but the right to bear colors denied them simply from the fact of their having lost them. It seems the case was not clearly understood by Lieutenant-General Grant, as he assumes that the order is general in its application, which it clearly is not.* As intimated in General Grant's indorsement, I might have carried the case to the War Department, but meanwhile the total amount of injury had been done by the simultaneous publication of the order in all the daily papers received in this army. This was thought to be very unjust, not only by myself, but generally by my command, but it seemed too late to take any further action. Subsequently, General Gibbon, ascertaining that he had himself omitted from his order one regiment which had lost colors at the same time, and concluding tht the order was unjust because retrospective, asked that the order might be countermanded, but as the same request from me had been virtually denied, and not thinking what had been refused me would be granted to one of my division commanders, I returned his application with a copy of the inclosed correspondence. The stigma, having had such general circulation in an official form, cannot be wiped out, though some amends might be made by publishing in the Associated Press an order revoking the one complained of. I have not referred to the particular case of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, as it is covered by the general principles embracing the other regiments named in the order. I may say, however, that none of them were deprived of their colors on account of worse conduct than other regiments not named, but simply from the fact that they had lost them.
WINF'D S. HANCOCK,