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BALL’S BLUFF IN CONGRESS.
position, with such paltry means of com- remarks afford an idea of the impressions munication as the three flat boats at this event, seemingly so difficult of comHarrison's Island, need no military crit- prehension, created on the public mind. icism or judgments to insure its condem- A month after this debate General Stone, nation. It was a blunder for which the having been continued in his command public demanded an account. Why, it on the Potomac, was arrested by an was asked, were not means of communi- order from the War Department, on cation provided, if the movement was charges, it was said, among other matá necessary one, and why was it not ad- ters, involving his conduct at the Batequately supported by the large force tle of Ball's Bluff. Of that, however, no below, on the Virginia side ? Imme- authoritative information was given to diately on the meeting of Congress a re- the public. The fact only was certainly solution was passed by the House of known that he was carried to Fort Representatives, “That the Secretary of Lafayette, and was there detained a War be requested, if not incompatible prisoner of State till the following Augwith the public interest, to report to this ust, whien he was released without trial House whether any, and if any, what or any other public proceedings. measures have been taken to ascertain In the month of July the Battle of who is responsible for the disastrous Ball's Bluff was again brought before the movement of our troops at Ball's Bluff ?” attention of Congress in the speech on To this an answer was received on the the conduct of the war already cited by 16th of December, communicating a letter Senator Chandler of Michigan. The batfrom Adjutant-General Thomas, "that tle of Ball's Bluff was reviewed on this the General-in-Chief of the Army is of occasion, chiefly in reference to the opinion an inquiry on the subject of the neglect of General McClellan and of resolution, would, at this time, be in- General Stone to coöperate with Coljurious to the public service.” A dis- onel Baker by a flanking movement. cussion was lield in the House of Repre- The course of Colonel Baker was desentatives on the subject of this resolu- fended on the ground that he had every tion on the 6th of January, 1862, when reason to trust to reinforcements being an animated speech was delivered by Mr. sent, in the confidence that forty thouRoscoe Conkling, a representative from sand effective men, in the divisions of New York, in which he vividly present-, McCall, Smith and Stone, were within ed the circumstances attending the battle twelve miles of him ; being ignorant that field at Ball's Bluff. "The chief mourn the commands of the two former had acers for that battle," said he," those who tually been withdrawn; while he was suffered most severely in it--are the exonerated from the charge of rashness States of New York, Massachusetts and by his prudent dispositions in the field, Pennsylvania. To those States it was and the necessity he was under, as a man the battle of Cannæ, for the very pride and of courage and gallantry, of proceeding flower of their young men were among to the relief of the small body of troops its victims. No wonder that the army which had preceded him, and which were and the country burn with indignation at i beset by the enemy when he crossed.
Why,” asked the Senator, fortified by The deep damnation of their taking off.'
the evidence taken before the War ComNo wonder that twenty millions of people mittee, of which he was a member, and their presses are yet discussing this little band permitted to be destroywhether the battle was fought on orders ed by a force little more than double its issued by General Stone, or on forged numbers in the presence of forty thouorders, or on no orders at all.” These sand splendid troops? Why were Mc
Call and Smith ordered back at the very between Edwards' Ferry and Ball's Bluff, moment when Baker was ordered to which would have utterly destroyed any cross? If we wanted Leesburg, McCall force he could have sent to Baker's recould have taken it without the loss of a lief, and that Baker knew it. But Stone man, as his movement in mass had al- was not sustained by a single witness ; ready caused its evacuation, and the on the contrary, all swear that there were enemy did not return in force until after not, to their knowledge, and that they McCall had retreated. If we did not did not believe there were any ; and a wish to capture Leesburg, why did we civilian living on the spot, and in the come at all? Of what use is a slight habit of passing over the ground fredemonstration even, without results ? quently, swears there were none; and These are questions which the people again, Stone, when questioned as to the will ask, and no man can satisfactorily erection of forts under his range of guns,
Why were not reinforcements upon his second examination, swears sent from Edwards' Ferry to Colonel positively that there is not a gun now Baker? The distance was only three between Edwards' Ferry and Ball's Bluff, and a half miles. We had fifteen hun- and never has been. Why, then, were dred men across at two o'clock on Mon- not reinforcements sent from Edwards' day, and the universal concurrent testi- Ferry ? Let the men who executed and timony of officers and men is, that a re- planned this horrible slaughter answer to inforcement of even one thousand men- God and an outraged country.” some say five hundred, and one gallant Such was the criticism freely expendcaptain swears that with one hundred ed upon this unhappy movement to Ball's men he could have struck them upon the Bluff. Like many other acts of the war, flank, and changed the result of the day. it awaits the judgment of a fuller invesWhy were not reinforcements sent ? | tigation, on ampler testimony, than has Stone swears that there were batteries yet been made public.
The exhausting labors of the summer | capitol, began to be spread abroad in the of 1861, with the numerous anxieties at- autumn. Indeed, provision for such an tending upon the public service, had incident had been made in the extra their effect upon the constitution of the session of Congress, in a section of the veteran General Scott, who up to this Act for the organization of the military time had borne at Washington, in his establishment, which secured to the brecapacity of Lieutenant-General, the bur- vet Lieutenant-General, in case of his reden of responsibility in the direction and tirement, his full current pay and subsuperintendence of the national forces. sistence, or allowances. On the 1st of As the war increased in magnitude, it November the expected event took place. was evident that this vast and engross- A special meeting was held on the morning work must be transferred to other ing of that day by the Cabinet at Washhands. Rumors, accordingly, of the ap- ington, when the following letter by Genproaching retirement of General Scott eral Scott was presented : "Headquarfrom his high rank and duties at the ters of the Army, Washington, October 31,
RETIREMENT OF GENERAL SCOTT.
1861. The Hon. S. Cameron, Secretary ident read to the General the following
. of War. Sir: For more than three years order : "On the 1st day of November, I have been unable, from a hurt, to mount A. D. 1861, upon his own application to a horse, or to walk more than a few the President of the United States, Bre. paces at a time, and that with much pain. vet Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott is Other and new infirmities, dropsy and ordered to be placed, and hereby is vertigo, admonish me that repose of placed, upon the list of retired officers of mind and body, with the appliances of the army of the United States, without surgery and medicine, are necessary to reduction in his current pay, subsistenee, add a little more to a life already pro- or allowances. The American people tracted much beyond the usual span of will hear with sadness and deep emotion
It is under such circumstances, that General Scott has withdrawn from made doubly painful by the unnatural the active control of the army, while the and unjust rebellion now raging in the President and unanimous Cabinet exSouthern States of our so lately prosper- press their own and the nation's sympaous and happy Union, that I am com- thy in his personal affliction, and their pelled to request that my name shall be profound sense of the important public placed on the list of army officers retired services rendered by him to his country from active service. As this request is during his long and brilliant career, founded on an absolute right, granted by among which will ever be gratefully disa recent act of Congress, I am entirely at tinguished his faithful devotion to the liberty to say it is with deep regret that Constitution, the Union, and the flag, I withdraw myself in these momentous when assailed by parricidal rebellion.times from the orders of a President who ABRAHAM LINCOLN." Las treated me with much distinguish- General Scott thereupon rose and aded kindness and courtesy ; whom I know, dressed the President and Cabinet, who upon much personal intercourse, to be had also risen, as follows : “President, patriotic without sectional partialities or this hour overwhelms me.
It overpays prejudices ; to be highly conscientious in all services I have attempted to render the performance of every duty, and of to my country. If I had any claims beunrivaled activity and perseverance ; fore, they are all obliterated by this exand to you, Mr. Secretary, whom I now pression of approval by the President, officially address for the last time, I beg with the remaining support of his Cabto acknowledge iny many obligations for inet. I know the President and this the uniform high consideration I have Cabinet well. I know that the country received at your hands, and have the has placed its interests in this trying honor to remain, Sir, with high respect, crisis in safe keeping. Their counsels your obedient servant, WINFIELD SCOTT.” are wise ; their labors are as untiring as Action was immediately taken upon the they are loyal, and their course is the letter by the Cabinet. It was decided right one. President, you must excuse that, under the circumstances of General me. I am unable to stand longer to give Scott's advanced age and infirmities, the utterance to the feelings of gratitude resignation be accepted, and at the same which oppress me. In my retirement I meeting it was resolved that the com- shall offer up my prayers to God for this mand of the army be assigned to Gen- Administration and for my country. I eral McClellan.
shall pray for it with confidence in its On the afternoon of the same day the success over all enemies, and that speedCabinet again waited upon the President, ily.” The President then took leave of and attended him to the residence of General Scott, giving him his hand, and General Scott. Being seated, the Pres- saying he hoped soon to write him a
private letter expressive of his gratitude hope that a merciful Providence, that and affection. The President added : has protected you amid so many trials, "General : You will naturally feel so- will improve your health, and continue licitude about the gentlemen of your your life long after the people of the staff, who have rendered you and their country shall have been restored to their country such faithful service. I have former happiness and prosperity." taken that subject into consideration. A general order from General McI understand that they go with you to Clellan completed the official bulletin of New York. I shall desire them, at their the day, Occupied with this important earliest convenience, after their return, transaction. "Headquarters of the Army, to make their wishes known to me. I Washington, November 1, 1861. desire you now, however, to be satisfied cordance with General Order, No. 94, that, except the unavoidable privation from the War Department, I hereby asof your counsel and society, which they sume command of the armies of the have so long enjoyed, the provision United States. In the midst of the which will be made for them will be such difficulties which encompass and divide as to render their situation hereafter as the nation, hesitation and self-distrust agreeable as it has been heretofore." may well accompany the assumption of Each member of the Administration then so vast a responsibility, but confiding as gave his hand to the veteran, and re- I do, in the loyalty, discipline, and courtired in profound silence.
age of our troops, and believing as I do, The following letter was also address- that Providence will favor ours as the ed, the same day, to General Scott by just cause, I cannot doubt that success the Secretary of War: "General : It will crown our efforts and sacrifices. was my duty to lay before the President The army will unite with me in the feelyour letter of yesterday, asking to be re- ing of regret that the weight of many lieved, under the recent act of Congress. years, and the effect of increasing inIn separating from you I cannot refrain firmities, contracted and intensified in from expressing my deep regret that his country's service, should just now reyour health, shattered by long service move from our head the great soldier of and repeated wounds received in your our nation, the hero, who in his youth country's defense, should render it neces- raised high the reputation of his country sary for you to retire from your high in the fields of Canada, which he sanctiposition at this momentous period of our fied with his blood, who in more mature history. Although you are not to re- years proved to the world that American main in active service, I yet hope that skill and valor could repeat, if not eclipse, while I continue in charge of the De- the exploits of Cortez in the land of the partment, over which I now preside, I Montezumas, whose whole life has been shall at times be permitted to avail my- devoted to the service of his country, self of the benefits of your wise counsels whose whole efforts had been directed to and sage experience. It has been my uphold our honor at the smallest sacrifice good fortune to enjoy a personal ac- of life, a warrior who scorned the selfish quaintance with you for over thirty, glories of the battle-field, when his great years, and the pleasant relations of that qualities as a statesman could be emlong time have been greatly strengthen- ployed more profitably for his country, ed by your cordial and entire coöpera- a citizen who, in his declining years has tion in all the great questions which have given to the world the most shining inoccupied the Department, and convulsed stance of loyalty in disregarding all ties the country for the last six months. In of birth, and clinging still to the cause parting from you, I can only express the of truth and honor. Such has been the
SPEECH OF GENERAL MCCLELLAN.
career and character of Winfield Scott, warmest and deepest thanks to the honwhom it has long been the delight of the orable body you represent, for this ennation to honor, both as a man and as a tirely unmerited compliment. I could soldier. While we regret his loss, there thank you better if I thought that I deis one thing we cannot regret--the bright served it ; but I do not feel that I do example he has left for our emulation. Nothing that I have yet accomplished Let us all hope and pray that his de- would warrant this high compliment. It clining years may be passed in peace is for the future to decide whether I shall and happiness, and that they may be realize the expectations and hopes that cheered by the success of the country have been centred in me. I trust and and the cause he has fought for and feel that the day is not far distant when loved so well. Beyond all that, let I shall return to the place dearest of all us do nothing that can cause him to others to me, there to spend the balance blush for us ; let no defeat of the army of my days among the people from whom he has so long commanded, embitter his I have received this beautiful gist. The last years, but let our victories illumi- war cannot be long ; it may be despernate the close of a life so grand. ate. I ask in the future forbearance, GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General patience and confidence. With these Commanding U. S. A."
we can accomplish all, and while I know The presentation of a sword to Gen- that in the great drama which may have eral McClellan, one of the first incidents our hearts blood, that Pennsylvania will of his new command, by a committee of not play the least, I trust that, on the the Common Council of Philadelphia, on other hand, she will play the highest and the 3d of November, called from him a noblest part. I again thank you, and characteristic reply. "We honor you," ask you to convey to the Council my said the chairman in his address, * as a most sincere thanks for the sword. Say representative man, as representing loyal to them that it will be my ambition to Pennsylvania, whose every family sends deserve it hereafter. I know I do not to this contest a father or a son, as op- now.' posed to a rebellion against her part and A day or two after the good opinion lot in the inheritance from our sires, and expressed of the young General by his in accordance with a sentiment unalter- brother Pennsylvanians was reiterated ably declared, that she will permit no by the Secretary of War Cameron on a armed dictation at home or abroad, which visit to New York, where he was called has for its object the diminution of a sin- upon to address a political gathering of gle bond of the Union or the least fibre the Union Club, from the portico of the of its strength. General, an active mind Astor House. After alluding to the deled
you to leave during peace the art you votion of the North to the cause of the learned so thoroughly. War has restored war, he briefly noticed some of the ciryou to it with high responsibilities. You cumstances of the struggle. have been favored largely with a success tainly,” said he, "had some reverses in which has sealed the good opinion of the commencement, and there were some your earlier promise. From the peace-excuses to be made for them. The peosul arts has risen with you a mighty ple of the North are a working people, army, which, it is to be hoped, but not engaged for the last fifty years in the before a decisive blow has been struck, peaceful pursuits of civil industry. For will soon retire again to the same peace- more than fifty years the South had sul pursuits.” To this and other remarks been meditating this foul rebellion, and of a like tenor, General McClellan re- were preparing for war, while the North sponded. “I ask you, sir, to give my | was consolidating peace and harmony.
66 We cer