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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
NOVEMBER 14, 1925
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, March 2, 1863.
Resolved, further, That the Secretary of the Senate is hereby directed to cause to be
J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Murch 2, 1863.
EM. ETHERIDGE, Clerk.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, March 2, 1863.
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 hands of the Secretary of the Senate the fo’lowing report in three parts.
Part 1.--ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR.
PART III.-DEPARTMENT OF THE WEST.
The joint committee on the conduct of the war submit the following report,
with the accompanying testimony in relation to the department of the west.
Your committee have been unable to take all the testimony necessary to enable them to present a comprehensive report in relation to the administration of affairs in the department of the west, more particularly while under the command of General John C. Frémont. Compelled to remain in attendance upon Congress during its sessions, they were unable to visit the department in order to take the testimony of witnesses there. And they did not feel willing to call from so great a distance the witnesses whose testimony was necessary to fully elucidate all the facts, as their services were constantly required in the field. Throughout their investigations your committee have strictly adhered to the rule adopted by them from the first, to ask the attendance of those in the military service only when no detriment to the public interests would result from a temporary absence from their commands. When Congress closed its session last summer, many of those who had been most actively engaged in the operations to which your committee desired to direct their attention had been ordered to other parts of the country; some were in Tennessee and Mississippi, some in Arkansas, some in the army of the Potomac, and others in the department of the south under General Hunter. Such testimony as was within reach your committee have taken. But they are fully aware that their investigation upon that subject has been far from complete; and they, therefore, present but a brief report, together with such testimony as they have obtained.
When the rebellion commenced Missouri was one of the most turbulent among those States which the rebel leaders sought to gain over to their cause by the connivance and treachery of the State authorities, and by the presence of armed forces to operate upon the fears of the people. The number of federal troops in that region was very small; a great portion of our troops, stationed in the Territories and at our military posts upon the western frontier, had been basely surrendered by Twiggs to the rebels in Texas. St. Louis, the great commercial emporium of the State, was preserved from falling under rebel control only by the prompt and fearless course pursued by General, then Captain, Lyon, who, not waiting for orders or authority, occupied the United States arsenal, when threatened by the traitor governor of the State, and dispersed the rebel troops who were collected under the specious name of State guards, in a camp of instruction near St. Louis.
The difficulty under which our commanders there labored in obtaining supplies of arms, clothing, &c., for volunteers, was far greater than was felt in any other part of the country. Distant from all the principal depots, at a time when the ability of the government was taxed to the utmost to arm and equip the large number of volunteers called into the field, those who were, from time to time, placed in charge of that department were compelled to act under the greatest disadvantages.
Just previous to the appointment of General Frémont to the command of that department, the state of affairs in Missouri had become very alarming. In every portion of the State the rebel forces had appeared and assumed the offensive; all through the State they were committing their depredations, and Jackson, the governor, had appeared with a large force of troops, furnished by the rebel authorities from Arkansas and Texas, in addition to those he had been able to collect in Missouri. Pillow and other rebel generals had collected a large force from Tennessee, Kentucky, &c., and were threatening the southwestern portion of the State, ard Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio. General Lyon, who was the highest officer in comma
mand, after the removal of General Harney, had, with his limited means, been most active, and had taken the field for the purpose of preventing Jackson, with his superior forces, from getting possession of the northern portion of the State.
In July General Frémont was assigned to that command. He proceeded to New York city, where he spent some days, endeavoring to arrange for supplying his department with the arms, &c., which were absolutely requisite. He reached St. Louis on the 25th of July. General Pope, who had been assigned the command in northern Missouri, was calling for troops to enable him to take the field; General Lyon, in the southwestern portion of the State, had been calling for re-enforcements for some time; General Prentiss, at Cairo, was also asking for re-enforcements. General Frémont first re-enforced Cairo, as being the most important point, situated, as it was, at the junction of the Ohio and the Mississippi
, and controlling the navigation of those two rivers. The number of troops that he could obtain for that purpose was small; but the enemy were led to believe, by the large number of steamboats that went down from St. Louis, that the re-enforcement was far greater than it really was; and Pillow, who had a force estimated at 12,000 men, was deterred from making the attack he had contemplated.
Cairo being re-enforced, General Frémont at once took steps to send troops to the assistance of General Lyon. The number of the enemy opposed to General Lyon was almost overwhelming. It was supposed by many that he would retire before them until he should meet supports. He himself seems to have contemplated such a movement, for after the affair of Dug Springs he retired to Springfield; and General Sturgis testifies that, at that time, General Lyon expressed his convictions that re-enforcements could not be sent to him.
Upon reaching Springfield, General Lyon halted his forces, and after waiting there some four or five days announced his intention to march out and attack the enemy. What reasons influenced him in forming that determination are not well established by the testimony. Some of the officers have expressed their conviction that he apprehended that the enemy, should he retire further from them, would fall upon his rear and cripple him, or force him to fight a battle under great disadvantages. His brave spirit, doubtless, led him to meet the enemy he had gone so far to reach, and endeavor to inflict such a blow as would lead them not to press very closely upon him. Whatever his reasons may have been, he determined upon the attack. The battle was fought at Wilson's creek, on the 10th of August, and, though the enemy outnumbered our forces four to one, our army was eminently successful.
General Lyon fell, leading on a regiment to the attack. His loss at that time was most deeply felt. Dying as a brave soldier would wish to die, fighting for the cause of his country against those who were seeking its destruction, his example has exercised its influence upon those who have since won the glorious victories which have made our armies in the west so illustrious.
After that battle our forces retired to Rolla, the enemy being so severely punished that they followed only at a distance. At Rolla they were joined by the troops that had been started to their relief, but had been delayed for want of transportation.
CONDUCT OF THE WAR.
In September, Colonel Mulligan, who had been upon an expedition in the northern part of the State, was obliged to fall back before the forces of the enemy advancing against him under General Price. Colonel Mulligan made a stand at Lexington, and prepared to resist them, sending for re-enforcements. General Frémont, upon hearing of Colonel Mulligan's situation, made arrangements to send troops to his assistance; but from various causes they were unable to reach him, and the enemy succeeding in cutting off his supply of water he was compelled to surrender.
Shortly after this, General Frémont determined to take the field in person, with all the forces he could collect together. He was deficient in transportation, so much so that the adjutant general of the army reported to the Secretary of War that General Frémont would be unable to move.
He did move, however, and, by the first of November, succeeded in reaching Springfield. The enemy, some 2,000 strong, had been driven from that place by Major Zagoni, who, with barely 100 cavalry, made the most brilliant charge of the war.
Preparations were made to engage the enemy, who were understood to be in force in the immediate neighborhood of Springfield. The day was fixed and the order of the attack determined upon. Just then General Frémont was removed from the command and General Hunter appointed as his successor.
General Hunter testifies that he became satisfied that the enemy were not so near as General Frémont had supposed. He determined, therefore, to withdraw to St. Louis, which was done, and active operations in the State were suspended for some time.
In relation to the administration of General Frémont much has been said about the high prices paid by him for arms and other supplies; the unnecessary fortification of St. Louis; delay in re-enforcing points threatened by the enemy; undue assumption of authority, &c. Your committee can but briefly notice those different points, on account of their inability to obtain full evidence in relation to them.
This much, at least, appears to be established: General Frémont, upon taking the command, was clothed with the most ample authority, and the exigencies of the department were such that much should be pardoned in one compelled to act so promptly, and with so little at his command. Whether that authority was exercised, in all respects, as it should have been—whether General Frémont was justified in all that he did by the circumstances under which he was called upon to act—your committee do not undertake to express a positive opinion.
In relation to the purchase of arms, &c., it appears that the department was very destitute of supplies of all kinds; the demand was most pressing, and the government was unable to supply it. Some of the arms engaged by General Fremont, for the soldiers in his department, were diverted to the army of the Potomac, the primary object of the government then being to collect and equip an army at Washington, as soon as could possibly be done. This rendered it the more important that other arms should be obtained; yet with all that General Frémont deemed it proper to do his department long felt the want of adequate supplies.
In reference to the fortifications about St. Louis, General Frémont but carried out what General Lyon, before him, had deemed necessary. In reference to the manner in which it was done—as the government has had its agents to examine the contracts for that work, as well as other contracts-your committee forbear expressing an opinion.
In regard to re-enforcing promptly those points threatened by the enemy, so far as your committee have the evidence before them, they believe that General Fremont acted with energy and promptness. He was peculiarly situated. The first call—that of General Lyon-was pressed upon him so soon after he took command of the department, and he was compelled to act so hastily, without