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1863

Of the one hundred and eighty-six, one hundred and

fifteen deserted. Of those remaining, six were discharged for disability, twenty-six were transferred to the navy, and one was killed in battle.

A number of the men taken prisoners at Gettysburg, Saturday, and subsequently paroled, returned to the regiment toAugust 15. day, their parole having been declared null and void by

government agents, and they consequently resumed their duties in the regiment.

We remained in camp at Rappahannock Station until September 16, attending to the usual camp duties, such as drilling, inspections, picket, etc.

During our stay here the temperature changed so markedly as to require overcoats at night, while many complained of sleeping uncomfortably under their blanket. Orders were received to raise the beds one foot from the ground, while the “Surgeon's call" presented a daily symposium of sick men. The spot where we were encamped was very unhealthy.

That enterprising assassin, Mosby, came in for a share of General Lee's attention, as will be seen by the following:

HEADQUARTERS, ORANGE, August 18, 1863. GENERAL STUART, Commanding, etc.:

GENERAL: The report of Major Mosby, of fourth instant, relative to his expeditions towards Fairfax Court-House and below, has been forwarded to the War Department. I greatly commend his boldness and good management, which is the cause of his success. I have heard that he has now with him a large number of men, yet his expeditions are undertaken with very few, and his attention seems more directed to the capture of sutler's wagons, etc., than to the injury of the enemy's communications and outposts. The capture and destruction of wagon-trains is advantageous; but the supply of the Federal army is carried on by the railroad. If that should be injured, it would cause him to detach largely for its security, and thus weaken his main army. This threat of punishing citizens on the line for such attacks must be met by meeting similar treatment to his soldiers when captured.

I do not know the cause for undertaking his expeditions with so few men,whether it is from policy or the difficulty of collecting them. I have heard of his men – among them officers — being in the rear of this army, selling captured goods, sutler's stores, etc. This had better be attended to by others. It 1863. has also been reported to me that many deserters from this army

have joined him. Among them have been seen menibers of the Eighth Virginia Regiment. If this is true, I am sure it must be without the knowledge of Major Mosby; but I desire you to call his attention to this matter, to prevent his being imposed on. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General.

Our old friend Boteler, whom we captured in the summer of 1861, and who we thought was not particularly interested in a prosecution of the war, seems to have acquired considerable sanguinary animosity after his release by General Banks, at Sharpsburg, August, 1861, according to the following letter:

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY DIVISION,

August 19, 1863. Hon. JAMES A. SEDDEN, Secretary of War:

Sir: In a conversation with Major Mosby, the partisan leader, I suggested to him the use of Rains' percussion torpedoes on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. He cordially approved of the suggestion, and requested me to write to you for a supply of the explosives in question. If, therefore, you concur with us in thinking that much damage may be done to the enemy by means of these bombs placed beneath the rails of that particular road, which is used exclusively for the transportation of troops and army supplies, you will confer a favor upon Major Mosby by ordering him to be supplied with them immediately.

A. R. BOTELER. P.S. - General Stuart suggests that some one acquainted with the use of the torpedoes be sent up with them, as they are dangerous things in unskilful hands.

This method of exit might be called going to heaven - cross-roads.

In accordance with the following communication five deserters were shot:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

August 27, 1863. His EXCELLENCY ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States :

Walter, Rionese, Folancy, Lai, and Kuhn were to have been executed yesterday. Their execution was postponed by my order till Saturday, the 29th, that time might be given to procure the services of a Roman Catholic priest to assist them in preparing for death. They are substitute conscripts who enlisted for the purpose of deserting after receiving the bounty; and being the first of this class whose cases came before me, I believed that humanity, the safety of this army,

1863

and the most vital interests of the country required their prompt

execution as an example, the publicity given to which might, and, I trust in God will, deter others from imitating their bad conduct. In view of these circumstances, I shall, therefore, inform them their appeal to you is denied.

GEORGE G. MEADE, Major-General Commanding.

If they enlisted for the purpose of deserting, then it was their vocation. As Falstaff said, “ 'Tis no sin for a man to labor in his vocation." The execution of these men didn't deter our festive cutthroats from leaving as soon as opportunity offered.

In an order received from brigade headquarters to-day occurs the following paragraph :

II. A looseness and carelessness has been observed by guards and sentinels. Officers on duty are particularly required to correct every departure from the Kegulations. Sentinels will not be allowed to sit, read, or talk on their posts, or bring their pieces to an order; but will habitually walk their posts, always vigilant, strictly observing and enforcing orders. At“ retreat” the Officer of the Guard will parade and inspect his guard.

We did observe a “looseness and carelessness," as the brigade commander says, though it was in brigade orders, of which the paragraph just quoted is a sample.

An order dated Sept. II, 1863, was received from Washington, that After the expiration of ninely days (June 25), volunteers serving in three years' organizations, who may reënlist for three years, or the war, in companies or regiments to which they now belong, and who may have, at the date of reënlistment, less than one year to serve, shall be entitled to the aforesaid bounty and premium of $402, to be paid in the manner herein provided for other troops reëntering the service.” On the 13th of September we received the following order:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

September 12, 1863. Commanding Officer First Corps :

I am instructed to inform you that a movement reconnaissance — will be made to-morrow in the direction of Culpeper Court House, and the commanding general orders that you hold your command in readiness to move at short notice, in case the development of the movement should be required.

Very respectfully, etc.,

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

1863.

Subsequently the Second Corps was substituted for

the First, which caused General Newton to feel that a reflection was cast on his corps, and it prompted him to address a letter to that effect to General Meade, and the following reply was received :

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

September 14, 1863. MAJ.-GEN. JOHN NEWTON, Commanding First Corps:

GENERAL: Your communication of the 13th instant, in reference to the detail of the Second Corps to support the cavalry reconnoissance sent in front of the army yesterday, has been laid before the commanding general, who regrets to learn that the detail has occasioned a feeling of disappointment among the officers and men of your corps.

The considerations which led the commanding general to select the Second Corps for this service were chiefly that the First Corps formed part of a line the continuity of which the general did not wish to break, as he could not foresee the consequences which might flow from an advance, and he was by no means certain that the reconnoitring party, together with its support, might not be driven back upon that line, and, moreover, he had in view the fact that the requiring on its part unusual watchfulness, and far more exhausting duties than had been performed by the corps in rear. The commanding general trusts that this explanation will satisfy you that in assigning the Second Corps to the duty above indicated no distrust was entertained of the qualification of the First Corps to perform the service equally well.

I am directed to add that, while the commanding general has given in this instance his reasons for issuing a particular order, he does not admit the right of any subordinate commander to call in question his acts, and he regrets that you should have thought it proper to do so. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General. The soundness of the last paragraph just saved the apology from being a success.

The following letter from Jeff. Davis to General Lee is interesting :

RICHMOND, VA., Aug. 11, 1863. GEN. R. E. LEE, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia :

Yours of the 8th instant has been received. I am glad you concur so entirely with me as to the want of our country in this trying hour, and am happy to add that after the first depression consequent upon our disaster in the West, indications have appeared that our people will exhibit that fortitude which we agree in believing is alone needsul to secure ultimate success.

1863.

It well became Sidney Johnston, when overwhelmed by a sense

less clamor, to admit the rule that success is the test of merit; and yet there has been nothing which I have found to require a greater effort of patience than to bear the criticisms of the ignorant, who pronounce everything a failure which does not equal their expectations or desires, and can see no good result which is not in the line of their own imaginings. I admit the propriety of your conclusions, that one officer who loses the confidence of his troops should have his position changed, whatever may be his ability, but when I read the sentence I was not at all prepared for the application you were about to make. Expressions of discontent in the public journals furnish but little evidence of the sentiment of an army. I wish it were otherwise, even though all the abuse of myself should be accepted as the results of honest observation. I say I wish I could feel that the public journals were not generally partisan nor venal.

Were you capable of stooping to it, you could easily surround yourself with those who would fill the press with your laudations, and seek to exalt you for what you had not done, rather than detract from the achievements which will make you and your army the subject of history and object of the world's admi. ration for generations to come.

I am truly sorry to know that you still feel the effects of the illness you suffered last spring, and can readily understand the embarrassments you experience in using the eyes of others, having been so much accustomed to make your own reconnoissance. Practice will, however, do much to relieve that embarrassment, and the minute knowledge of the country which you have acquired will render you less dependent for topographical information.

But suppose, my dear friend, that I were to admit, with all their implications, the points which you present, where am I to find that new commander who is to possess the greater ability which you believe to be required? I do not doubt the readiness with which you would give way to one who could accomplish all that you have wished, and you will do me the justice to believe that if Providence should kindly offer such a person for our use, I would not hesitate to avail of his services.

My sight is not sufficiently penetrating to discover such hidden merit, if it exists, and I have but used to you the language of sober earnestness when I have impressed upon you the propriety of avoiding all unnecessary exposure to danger, because I felt our country could not bear to lose you. To ask me to substitute you by some one in my judgment more fit to command, or who would possess more of the confidence of the army, or of the reflecting men of the country, is to de. mand an impossibility.

It only remains for me to hope that you will take all possible care of yourself, that your health and strength may be entirely restored, and that the Lord will preserve you for the important duties devolved upon you in the struggle of our suffering country for the independence which we have engaged in war to maintain. As ever, very respectfully and truly yours,

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

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