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IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, March 2, 1863. Resolved, by the Senate of the United States, (the House of Representatives concurring,) That in order to enable the “ Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War" to complete their investigations of certain important matters now before them, and which they have not been able to complete, by reason of inability to obtain important witnesses, be authorized to continue their sessions for thirty days after the close of the present Congress, and to place their testimony and reports in the hands of the Secretary of the Senate.
Resolved, further, That the Secretary of the Senate is hereby directed to cause to be printed, of the reports and accompanying testimony of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 5,000 copies for the use of the Senate, and 10,000 copies for the use of the House of Representatives. Attest:
J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, March 2, 1863. Resolved, That the House concur in the foregoing resolutions of the Senate to continue the sessions of the "Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War" for thirty days, and to direct the Secretary of the Senate to cause the printing of the reports, &c., with the following amendment : insert at the end the words : "of the present Congress.” Attest:
EM. ETHERIDGE, Clerk.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, March 2, 1863. Resolved, That the Senate concur in the foregoing amendment of the House of Representatives to said resolution. Attest:
J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.
APRIL 6, 1863. Mr. WADE, from the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, in accordance with the preceding resolution, placed in the bands of the Secretary of the Senate the follow. ing report in three parts.
Part 1.- ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR.
PART I.-ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
The joint committee on the conduct of the war submit the following report,
with the accompanying testimony:
CONDUCT OF THE WAR.
In December, 1861, a joint committee of the two houses of Congress, consisting of three members of the Senate and four members of the House of Representatives, was appointed, with instructions to inquire into the conduct of the present war.
Your committee proceeded to the discharge of the duty devolved upon them, and have labored zealously and, they trust, faithfully for that purpose. As evidence of that, they would refer to the large mass of testimony taken by them upon many subjects and herewith reported.
The subject of inquiry referred to them was one of the utmost importance and magnitude. Upon the conduct of the present war" depended the issue of the experiment inaugurated by our fathers, after so much expenditure of blood and treasure—the establishment of a nation founded upon the capacity of man for self-government. The nation was engaged in a contest for its very existence ; a rebellion, unparalleled in history, threatened the overthrow of our free institutions, and the most prompt and vigorous measures were demanded by every consideration of honor, patriotism, and a due regard for the prosperity and happi-ness of the people.
Your committee could perceive no necessity for recommending any particular legislation to Congress. Its previous course showed that no such recommendation was required. When Congress met the preceding July, fresh from the people-called upon to provide for the safety of the government and the maintenance of the national honor and existence—the representatives of the people gave full evidence that they comprehended the duty devolved upon them, and had the courage and will to fully discharge it. The administration called by the people to the head of the government, in this the most critical period of the nation's history, was more promptly and fully supported than that of any other government of which history has preserved any record. The call of the President for money and men had been more than complied with ; no legisla-tion which he had deemed necessary had been denied by Congress, and the
people had most nobly and generously supported and sustained what their representatives had promised in their name. The same Congress, fresh from their constituents, had again met, and there could be no doubt that as they had before acted so would they continue to act. It needs but to refer to the history of the Congress just closed, its prompt and thorough action, clothing the executive with the fullest power, placing at his disposal all the resources of men and money which this nation possessed, to prove that your committee judged rightly that Congress needed no prompting from them to do its entire duty.
Not upon those whose duty it was to provide the means necessary to put down the rebellion, but upon those whose duty it was to rightfully apply those means, and the agents they employed for that purpose, rested the blame, if any, that the hopes of the nation have not been realized, and its expectations have been so long disappointed.
Your committee therefore concluded that they would best perform their duty by endeavoring to obtain such information in respect to the conduct of the war as would best enable them to advise what mistakes had been made in the past and the proper course to be pursued in the future ; to obtain such information as the many and laborious duties of the President and his cabinet prevented them from acquiring, and to lay it before them with such recommendations and suggestions as seemed to be most imperatively demanded; and the journal of the proceedings of your committee show that, for a long time, they were in constant communication with the President and his cabinet, and neglected no opportunity of at once laying before them the information acquired by them in the course of their investigations.
Many specific subjects of investigation presented themselves for the consideration of your committee, any one of which might well require the action of a committee for itself; and all of which, if fully investigated, would demand the attention of all the representatives in Congress. It was apparent from the first that
your committee would be compelled to confine their attention to a few of the more prominent subjects of inquiry: to those the investigation of which would best enable them to comprehend the causes and necessity, if any, for the delay and inaction characterizing the operations of our armies in the field.
And while each of those subjects has received from them the attention which its importance merited, so far as they were able to give it, the attention of your committee has been turned more particularly to the history of the army
of the Potomac. In the history of that army is to be found all that is necessary to enable your committee to report upon “ the conduct of the war.” Had that army fulfilled all that a generous and confiding people were justified in expecting from it, this rebellion had long since been crushed, and the blessings of peace restored to this nation. The failure of that army to fulfil those expectations has prolonged this contest to the present time, with all its expenditure of life and treasure, for it has to a great extent neutralized, if not entirely destroyed, the legitimate fruits which would otherwise have been reaped from our glorious victories in the west.
Therefore, while your committee have not failed to take the testimony of witnesses in relation to military operations in other parts of the country, and also upon various subjects to which their attention has been specially directed by Congress and the War Department since the committee was first appointed, the principal part of the testimony taken by them relates to the army of the Potomac and those subjects more immediately connected with its operations. They have taken the testimony of nearly 200 witnesses, almost entirely men in the military service of the government, including about 100 generals.
The disaster at Bull Run in July, 1861, was fully investigated by your committee, as being the first conflict of the national troops with armed treason upon the field of battle; and also because the troops there engaged formed the nucleus around which has since been collected the vast and magnificent army
of the Potomac. The result of their investigation your committee submit in a separate report.
Your committee have also investigated the disaster at Ball's Bluff, that battle being the first conflict of any extent in which any of the troops of the army
of the Potomac were engaged after its reorganization. A separate report of that disaster is also submitted.
Immediately upon the organization of your committee, and before proceeding to the taking of any testimony, they addressed to General McClellan, who, by the retirement of General Scott, had become general-in-chief of the army, the following communication:
“WASHINGTON, D. C., December 21, 1861. “Sır: You are aware that a joint committee has been appointed by the Senate and House of Representatives to inquire into the conduct of the war.' Our committee, at a meeting held this morning, unanimously expressed a desire, before proceeding in their official duties, to have an interview with you at our room at the Capitol, at such time as may suit your convenien
in view of your pressing engagements.
“Our place of meeting is the room of the Committee on Territories of the Senate. “I remain, very respectfully, yours,
“B. F. WADE, Chairman. Major General Geo. B. MCCLELLAN,
"General Commanding Army United States."
While fully appreciating the dignity and power with which they were clothed by the concurrent action of both houses of Congress, they deemed it but just to award to his position the consideration of asking him to confer with them in relation to the best method of fulfilling those expectations which the people had a right to hope for from an administration upon which they had, through their representatives, conferred such plenary powers. A reference to the journal of your committee will show that ill health prevented General McClellan from immediately complying with this invitation. The necessities of the case, however, were so pressing and urgent that your committee concluded to proceed at once to the taking of testimony.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
Soon after the battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861, General McDowell was superseded, and General McClellan was called by the President to the command of the army of the Potomac. The campaign in Western Virginia, the credit of which had been generally ascribed to General McClellan; the favor with which it was understood he was regarded by General Scott, then generalin-chief of the army of the United States; even his comparative youth, holding out the promise of active and rigorous measures; all these considerations tended to infuse hope into the public mind, and to remove the gloom and despondency which had followed the disastrous issue of the campaign just ended.
Every energy of the government and all the resources of a generous and patriotic people were freely and lavishly placed at the disposal of General McClellan to enable him to gather together another army and put it in the most complete state of efficiency, so that offensive operations might be resumed at the earliest practicable moment. The army of the Potomac became the object of special care to every department of the government, and all other military movements and organizations were made subordinate to the one great purpose of collecting at Washington, and organizing there, an army which should overpower the forces of the enemy, and forever crush out any hope of success which the
rebels might cherish. Even when the army of the Potomac had attained dimensions never before contemplated in the course of military operations upon this continent, and seldom, if ever, equalled in modern times, no portion of its rapidly increasing numbers was permitted to be diverted, even for a brief period, to the accomplishment of other enterprises. The generals in charge of the various expeditions from time to time inaugurated, and from which so much benefit was anticipated—General Butler, General Sherman, General Burnside, and others—were compelled to look elsewhere for the troops to compose their commands, to rely upon the continued patriotism of the people, and the zeal of the executives of the various States for the raising of those regiments which would enable them to depart for the fields of duty assigned to them. No consideration was for a moment allowed to diminish or impair the efficiency of the army of the Potomac, and the unexampled spectacle was presented to other nations, who were intently watching the course of events in this country, of the largest army of the present century being raised entirely by voluntary enlistments in the brief period of a few months.
When Congress assembled in this city, in the beginning of December, 1861, 80 successful had been the exertions of the authorities, and so zealously had the people responded to their country's call, that the consolidated morning reports, furnished your committee by the adjutant general of the army, showed that, exclusive of the command of General Dix, at Baltimore, the army of the Potomac consisted of about 185,000 men.
During the time this large army had been collecting and organizing, nothing of importance had transpired in connexion with it, except the closing of the navigation of the Potomac by the rebels, which your committee treat of more at length in another part of this report, and the melancholy disaster of Ball's Bluff, which is made the subject of a separate report.
The weather during the fall season, and for some weeks after the convening of Congress, continued unusually favorable for active military operations. As month after month passed without anything being done by the army of the Potomac, the people became more and more anxious for the announcement that the work of preparation had been completed and active operations would soon be commenced.
From the testimony before your committee it appeared that the army of the Potomac was well armed and equipped, and had reached a high state of discipline by the last of September or the first of October. The men were ready and eager to commence active operations. The generals in command of the various divisions were opposed to going into winter quarters, and the most of them declared they had no expectation of doing so.
In reference to the proper organization of so large an army as that about Washington, in order that it might be the better able to act most effectively in the field, the testimony of the witnesses examined upon that point is remarkably unanimous. The generals most familiar with the subject seemed to regard of the utmost importance the division of the army into corps d'armée, and that, too, in time for the instruction of the troops in the movements necessary to render such an organization the most effective. Your committee deemed it so vitally necessary that they repeatedly brought the subject to the attention of the authorities, and urged its immediate adoption with all the arguments in their power. The President and the Secretary of War concurred with them in the necessity of such a measure; but it did not seem to be regarded with much favor by General McClellan. Indeed, General McClellan stated to your committee, at the time of their conference with him, that, although it might at some time be expedient to divide the army into army corps, the subject was one of great difficulty. He said it was a delicate matter to appoint major generals before they had been tried by actual service, and had shown their fitness to be selected to command 30,000 or 40,000 men. A major general could not be stowed