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Question. That paper was not suppressed ?
Answer. No, sir. The object was to make it a friendly paper. Although it had been an opposing paper, it had never used violent language, or done anything with an obvious design and purpose to stir up the people against us. It had always taken a fair political stand. During the latter part of my administration there was nothing of the kind done there.
Question. There have been frequent rumors and statements that persons who came to you as messengers from officers in the field, and other persons having important communications relative to the conduct of the war in the western department, found it impossible to gain access to you while you were in command there.
Answer. I do not believe that such was the case at all. I think that all officers having reason to see me, having business with me, could readily find access to me, taking their turn. I always occupied from very early in the morning until very late at night with those things which were most pressing and necessary to be attended to.
By Mr. Odell : Question. When you say, “ taking their turn,” do you mean that we should infer that it was a matter of two or three days for a man to get to see you?
Answer. No, sir; not any one having business in reference to the department, when I knew of it. I dare say there were men who waited two or three days, or even a week, to see me there; that may have been. But there was a standing order that an officer coming to see me, no matter what his business was, should come up without any hindrance. The business pertaining to the department I attended to first, and all other business as I could find time to dispose of it. The orders issued to the commanding officer of the guard were of such a nature that they could be easily ascertained by applying to him at any time.
By Mr. Gooch: Question. It has been stated that the house occupied as your headquarters was unnecessarily expensive to the government. Will you state the facts in relation to that?
Answer. I do not think the quarters occupied were unusually expensive. They were comfortable and commodious, but I do not think that the resulting expense to the government was greater than would have been for any number of smaller houses which the department might have required. It was pretty well occupied by officers. The fact of that particular house having beer happened in this way: On our arrival at St. Louis, and even before our arrival there, we were invited by Mrs. Brandt, who was Mrs. Fremont's cousin, to occapy her house. It was then vacant, she being absent from the city, and about to start for Europe. We occupied the house for some time without paying any rent, and then decided that it was so commodious and so suitable for headquarters that it should be hired. And it accordingly was hired. How the price paid for it would compare with other houses in other parts of the town I do not know.
By Mr. Odell :
Answer. It was $6,000. In it were accommodated all my working staff officers with myself; quite a number of them. It was made the central headquarters. The telegraph wires were brought there; and it was about such a house, and had about such accommodations, as a department of that size would require. At all events, it never occurred to me that we were incurring any un usual expense until I saw it afterwards questioned.
By Mr. Gooch: Question. Will you state to the committee the reasons which induced you to make the proclamation which has been so much talked of since, and all the facts connected with that proclamation, so far as you remember them?
Answer. I judged it expedient to make the proclamation because I began to find myself pressed to meet what I considered serious dangers. Our means there were all the time very inadequate, and I thought that the time had come when it was necessary to strike some decided blow against the enemy, and I judged that the measures proposed by the proclamation were such as would give us a great and important advantage over our enemy. Without going into detail, I judged that the condition of the country, the activity and the universality of the rebellion, and the strength of the force against us, rendered it necessary that I should take the best measures I could to suppress the rebellion there.
By the chairman :
Answer. It operated admirably while it was in force. The effect it produced fully satisfied me that it was a good measure.
By Mr. Julian :
Answer. It was, in my judgment, injurious, so far as my observation went. I made the proclamation as a war measure, judging that its effect would be immediate and beneficial ; and it proved so, so far as I had an opportunity to judge; and, except in one of the clauses, I think the terms of that proclamation have been carried out since I left the department. The reasons for issuing that proclamation may be generally embraced in the statement that I then thought the condition of the department had become critical, and that decided measures and effective, such as I judged those to be, which would strike home, ought to be adopted at once. I came to the determination of issuing that proclamation, and immediately notified the President of the United States of its issue. For his answer, and the terms in which he modified that proclamation, I refer to the papers accompanying my statement. It will be there seen that the President modified the proclamation in two particulars : first, as regards freeing the slaves of rebels; and, secondly, as regards shooting rebels who should be taken in arms within our lines. His letter to that effect, and mine in answer, are among the papers I have submitted. That was the first act which met the disapprobation of the Executive in any way; and the President himself, in his letter suggesting or directing modifications, states that he does not imply any censure. About that time, however, as these papers will show, the confidence of the administration was withdrawn. The first committee of investigation came to my department shortly afterwards. I believe the committee-Mr. Blair and General Meigs left Washington about the 6th of September. Up to that time I had the confidence of the administration, so far as indications were given to me. At least there was nothing to lead me to suppose that there had been any withdrawal of the confidence of the administration.
By Mr. Julian : Answer You never heard of any dissatisfaction until the publication of that proclamation ?
Answer. No, sir; and I think the papers I have submitted to the committee will show that up to that time no dissatisfaction on the part of the administration had been shown, and between the publication of that proclamation and the arrival of the first committee of investigation there had been no act of any marked importance in the department to call for any expression of opinion.
Colonel Blair's letter was dated the first day of September. The third day of September Montgomery Blair wrote me the letter which I have submitted. It was through him that I usually communicated with the administration here. Consequently, up to the third day of September, there would appear to have been nothing against my administration of affairs there.
Question. When the congressional committee came out there, had you any knowledge of its coming, or any opportunity to present facts before it ?
Answer. I had no knowledge whatever of its coming, and no opportunity was afforded to me to present anything before it.
Question. You were in the field at that time?
Answer. I was in the field then. I never had any communication whatever of any kind with the committee. As to the proclamation I will remark that I issued it, having consideration to the exigencies of the department at that time, and considering it within the powers of a general commanding.
By the chairman : Question. It is said that you organized a body guard that was in some military sense objectionable or unusual. Will you explain that ?
Answer. It is altogether wrong to say that it was unusual, because every general has a body guard, or may have it, and ought to have it in the field, and this was organized as something necessary to a general. At first it consisted of one company only, and in nowise differing from ordinary body guards assigned to generals, that I am aware of. There was nothing unusual in the manner of their enlistment. They were enlisted like other troops for three years, and in precisely the same way. It has been said that their uniforms were something extraordinary, showy, and magnificent. Their uniform was as modest a one and as plain as well could be. As to their duties, they were important and arduous. They were liable to be called out at any hour of the day or night for any service. One among other reasons for forming this body guard was that we wished to have cavalry officers instructed, and this guard was considered a good school for cavalry oficers. They were regularly instructed in all the duties of cavalry officers. Gradually, when we found that it was a success, it was increased to four companies. But the captain commanding the corps did not obtain the appointment of major until we were going to take the field. We never had, as has been stated, a greater number of officers for that corps than such a body of men were entitled to. There was a smaller number of officers, in fact. Results have shown how good a body of men they were; how successful they were in the field.
Question. It proved to be a success, did it?
Answer. It proved to be a thorough success. It was held by all officers, volunteers and regulars, that it was the best cavalry in the service. That was the opinion of Colonel Eaton, and other officers there, who resisted its being disbanded, and endeavored to have it retained in the service after the order for disbanding it had been issued. To show the class of men of which it was composed, a sergeant of that cavalry is now a lieutenant colonel, and other men are captains, scattered around the country.
By Mr. Odell:
By the chairman : Question. How came it that such a body of men, who had so distinguished themselves, was disbanded ?
Answer. They were disbanded, as I was informed by General McClellan, because they had expressed sentiments at Springfield which made it of doubt. ful expediency whether or not they should be retained in the service. Although I had been removed from that department, I expected, of course, to go into the service again. I applied to General McClellan to allow me to retain that guard. I knew that a better body of men than that I could not find; and that in the field it is very important to have a body of men who would do what they were told to do, and do it thoroughly. In reply to my request he gave me that answer, and asked me to reply to it. I replied to him, and stated that I was not informed of any expression used by the guard at Springfield which made it of doubtful expediency whether or not they should be retained in the service of the country; but, on the contrary, that the gallantry of their conduct at Springfield had entitled them to the favorable consideration of the government; and I asked him, if any harsh measures had been directed against them, that he would reconsider the case, in view of these facts. To that the general never returned any answer, and they were disbanded. I am told that General Sturgis, when he went out to disband them, after the order had been issued, and they had been paraded for that purpose, when he saw them drawn up before him said that he would not disband them, but would go back to General Halleck and endeavor to get the order rescinded. He did go to him, but the order was carried out. It must be said that the men by that time had got into a very disorganized condition. They considered that they had been insulted and degraded. When they got back to St. Louis they could obtain no pay, and were allowed no food for their horses or rations for themselves. It was a severe shock to them. They had thought that on account of their conduct they had a right to be well considered. They thought, probably, that they would be promoted, or rewarded in some way; and when they met the order to disband, as though they had done something injurious to the country, they naturally were angry, and they refused to stay any longer. Those men were enlisted for three years, and enlisted regularly. They and their officers were mustered into the service by an officer of the regular army. They certainly did their duty. No application was ever made to me to know whether they had done their duty, or whether they had been guilty of any misconduct.
By Mr. Chandler : Question. How many of those men made that charge at Springfield; three companies ?
Answer. There were three companies of cavalry there belonging to what was called “the prairie scouts," Irish dragoons. They went with this guard down the lane. There were 149 or 150 of the guard, and then three companies of the others. At the head of the lane, where they emerged from the wood, they met so heavy a fire that it disorganized the three companies, but a portion of one of the three companies continued on with the guard ; and some of the officers of one of those three companies jumped their horses over a very high fence that was there. I think some eight or ten men fell at that place. The three companies wheeled and took the road around another way. But the guards, when they failed to get through the fence-Major Zagoni found it was too severe there-charged down the lane some 150 or 200 yards, took the fence down, formed inside, and charged up the hill where the enemy was drawn up in line. About 149 of the guard made that charge, and there the principal fight took place. The enemy had some 500 cavalry, and the rest were foot.
By the chairman :
Answer. Yes, sir; they broke them up and dispersed them; they drove them into the woods, and charged upon them and fought them there; they drove them into the town, and charged upon them there and fought them through the town.
Question. Were you informed what those expressions were for which they were disbanded ?
Answer No, sir; I never have been informed. The correspondence between General McClellan and myself terminated at that point. He telegraphed to me to this effect: "I am officially informed that the body of cavalry known as your body guard expressed sentiments at Springfield which renders it of doubtful expediency whether or not they should be retained in the service. sequence of that, I had, before receiving your request, already directed that they should be dismissed the public service.” I think that is the substance of his communication. I telegraphed back, and informed bim that I had not been informed of the expression of any sentiments by my guard at Springfield which would make it of doubtful expediency whether or not they should be retained in the service. But I stated that, on the contrary, I thought the gallantry of their conduct at Springfield entitled them to the favorable consideration of the government.
Question. To which he made no reply?
Answer. He made no reply at all. I asked him to recousider the case, leavit open to him, if he should reconsider it, to apply to me, as they were my guard, under my command, to learn what they had done to justify measures so harsh. I asked him, in view of these facts, to reconsider the case, in the event of any harsh measures having been directed against them.
By Mr. Odell:
Answer. From Kentucky, mainly ; some were from Ohio, and some from Missouri. There were 100 picked men from Kentucky, who came in a body. They certainly were as fine looking a body of men as you could meet anywhere. They were really a remarkable body of men.
By the chairman: Question. Were they offered any court-martial, or court of inquiry, to ascertain what they had done to merit this treatment ? Answer. Nothing more than I have told you.
By Mr. Julian : Question. Did they know anything about what they were charged with ?
Answer. Nothing; nobody knows more than I have told you now. Major Zagoni is really a soldier, and a thorough one. For a man of his age he is really distinguished. He rose in the Hungarian army from a lieutenant to a captain ; he fought his way up, and did good service there. He was an officer in a corps about the size of this guard, of about 300 or 400 men, and when Bem was surrounded they cut their way through two Austrian regiments that blocked up the road and carried Bem off. They lost nearly all their command, but they succeeded in carrying him off.
By the chairman : Question. I want to inquire of you how far you had advanced with your army, what you expected to accomplish, and where was the enemy when you were superseded by General Hunter?
Answer. I was at Springfield when the order superseding me reached me on the 2d day of November. I was within nine miles of General Price's advance guard.
Question. What was the strength and condition of your army at that time?
Answer. It was in good fighting condition—in thoroughly good fighting condition. I should have gone into action on the morning of the 4th with 21,000