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effective men. The other division, which had not then got up, would not have joined in that action. General Hunter would not have been in that action.
Question. What was the strength of the enemy, so far as you understood, at that time?
Answer. The reports sent in to me by General Sigel and General Asboth on the afternoon of the 3d stated the enemy to be 40,000 men, according to their best information. The report of General Asboth, late in the afternoon of the 3d, was that the enemy had advanced 7,000 men to Wilson's creek, which was nine miles from Springfield, and that all the roads and paths were filled with moving troops, and the whole number of the enemy was estimated at 40,000 men. I had turned over my command then; but the generals of division wrote me a letter, which I have, asking me not to give up the command of the army until after the battle should have been fought, but to hold command of the army and go on and fight the battle. In consequence of their address to me, and the request of many officers, I told them that if General Hunter did not arrive before the next morning I would take the army to battle. Accordingly, that evening I called a council of generals of divisions and brigades, and some of the colonels, at my headquarters, and we there decided upon the plan of the action to take place the next morning. General Sigel was to march at 6 o'clock; General McKinstry was to march at 6 o'clock; General Asboth was to march at 7 or 71⁄2 o'clock, I forget now which, and General Pope was to have command of the reserve. The positions to which they were to march were assigned to them— the positions they were to occupy at Wilson's creek, where we supposed the enemy's whole force would be when we arrived. Eleven o'clock the next morning was designated as the hour at which that action was expected to take place. About 10 o'clock that night General Hunter came into my headquarters. The officers were all present. I handed him the order to march and the plan drawn up for the battle of the next day, gave him all the information I could, and left the matter in his hands. Most of the officers supposed that, in the condition of things, General Hunter would not take the command at that time, but leave it to me until after the battle had been fought. He did take the command, and I left the next day.
At 12 o'clock General Hunter called a council of war, on which occasion he read a letter from the President suggesting the expediency of retiring and falling back upon St. Louis; but the President went on to say that at that distance he could not tell what ought to be done. General Hunter proposed to the officers to say whether they would retire or go forward and fight. They unanimously expressed themselves in favor of going forward. They knew the army was in good condition to fight; that it was in sufficient force; and that they would, in all probability, gain a signal victory. The council separated, all the officers under the impression that the battle would take place; but the next morning they had orders to retire.
Question. Was there any doubt about your coming up with the enemy and having a fight the next day?
Answer. I do not think there was any.
Question. Were your troops in high spirits?
Answer. They were in admirable spirits, and had been all the way along. A battle had been fought at Fredericktown with great success; an action had taken place at Wet Glaze, in which sixty of the enemy had been killed; Lexington had been entered by Major White, and the prisoners there liberated; and the brilliant action of Major Zagoni at Springfield had been fought, all in the same week. The troops were all in high spirits, and desirous of emulating what had already been done. To show the spirit of the troops, the officers of three or four regiments came to me and said that their men did not want to go into action with more than three or four rounds of ammunition; they preferred to use the bayonet. I do not think Price could have stood against them a half an hour.
Question. What was your intention if you had fought that battle and gained a victory?
Answer. It was understood that if Price was defeated he would probably go off down into Arkansas with the remainder of his force. Price and myself had just then made an agreement by which we each agreed that the fighting should be confined to the armies in the field; that is, that all guerilla parties should be suppressed; and both he and I agreed to lend our aid to suppress them. He and I invited the people to return to their homes, under our joint guarantee that no man should be arrested or considered subject to arrest for mere political opinions, or the private expression of political opinions, but should be left to the ordinary course of the legal tribunals if he did anything wrong. I think that was considered to be preparatory to his leaving the State. It was understood that the 15,000 Missourians he had with him would return home.
I had directed Commodore Foote to prepare for an attack upon Columbus, Belmont, and New Madrid. I was to move, after the battle which we expected, according to instructions to be then forwarded to them, so as to effect a junction with them at Bird's Point, and together attack those positions going on down to Memphis, or they were to go on and make the attack while the army under me proceeded directly to Memphis. General Prentiss had come to my camp by my order, after I had started on the road to Springfield, and it was arranged that he should go back and raise a brigade to replace his own troops at Cairo, and to have that much additional strength to make this movement. The movement was in that way a concerted one, to attack and carry Belmont, New Madrid, and Columbus, and go on to Memphis. And it was the opinion of all of us that that could be done.
Question. In the course of your command did you meet with any particular check or reverse?
Answer. I never met with one myself. The reverses at Springfield and Lexington I considered as accidents, coming up in the combination of which I had not then fully obtained the control. There was never anything which stopped the onward movement which we had commenced.
Question. Do you know why you were superseded, and your army placed under the command of another just on the eve of battle?
Answer. I am not clear in my own mind as to the reasons. I think that several causes operated to bring that about. I believe the excuse or reason, by means of which the movement against me was originated, was in the suggestions from Colonel Blair. I believe the dissatisfaction with me commenced there.
Question. About what?
Answer. Well sir, in brief, I believe I never should have had any difficulty in that quarter, if I had been willing to have allowed the moneyed and political power of the department to be used for individual benefit. That I refused to do. I believe the first split came up on a contract for the supply of 40,000 men, which two gentlemen, introduced to me by Colonel Blair, demanded to have. I discussed that with them for a couple of days, refused to give them the contract in full, but finally consented to allow a contract to be made for one-third that number of men, provided one-half of the work should be done in St. Louis. The restriction to one-third was made on the estimate of supplies to be furnished, on its margin. I agreed to that extent to indorse the contract over to General McKinstry, to whom I referred it, and recommended that such a contract be made. General McKinstry refused, and thereupon the contest began.
By Mr. Odell:
Question. What was the contract for?
Answer. They asked for a contract to furnish equipments, clothing, &c., for 40,000 men. Though I expected to need that much in time, I did not like to
order so large an amount at that time, and of any one party. And then, probably following that, the proclamation was brought up as a reason why I should be removed. But as a matter simply of judgment and belief, I think that would not have been used but for suggestions growing out of the contract movement In other words, I think if I had been willing to have made the contracts asked I should have had no difficulty. That is as near a statement of the reasons as they appear to my own mind as I am now able to give.
By the chairman:
Question. You agreed that they might have a contract for furnishing onethird of 40,000 men?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. And you say that General McKinstry vetoed that?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Was it within his province to supersede you in a matter of that kind?
Answer. No, sir, not if I had made the order. I recommended it to him, and I think that in addition to other reasons that he may have had for his action, he felt that I had been annoyed by the pressure upon me for this contract, and thought that if he refused it would not be disagreeable to me. And I judge too, that General McKinstry supposed that if he had more time in which to make contracts they could be made to better advantage. We already had contracts out for a certain number of men. I recollect that was one of the objections I urged to making such a contract as that asked for; that a contract once ordered was a committal to that extent for that amount. I wished to have, and probably General McKinstry had that idea also, the power to buy in smaller quantities.
By Mr. Odell:
Question. Then you refused the contract, aud used McKinstry to do it with? Answer. I certainly did not contemplate that.
Question. It seems to me that that will be the inference drawn from your statement of the transaction?
Answer. I certainly do not want any such inference as that to be drawn from anything I have said.
The chairman: It seems to me that the statement made by General Frémont will not bear any such construction as that.
Mr. Odell called for the reading of what had been stated in reference to the
It was accordingly read.
Mr. Odell: It is a matter with General Frémont entirely. If he is willing to have such a statement upon record, I shall not object. I thought it but right to call his attention to it, for I certainly should not like, if I was in his place, to make up such a record as that against myself.
The witness: I am much obliged to you for calling my attention to the matter. If any member of the committee thinks that any such construction can be or will be placed by any one upon what I have said, I certainly do not want it to stand. I was willing to let them have a contract for that amount. There was no positive order for the contract; I only made a recommendation to General McKinstry to make it. There is a great deal of difference between a positive order to him to make the contract, and merely recommending him to make it, leaving it to his discretion to make it or not, as he pleased. So far as I was myself concerned, I was willing to consent to a contract for one-third of the amount they asked, for I knew we were then requiring, or would soon require, supplies to an amount which might render such a contract to some extent expedient. I did not give a positive order to General McKinstry to make the con
tract, but so far as I was concerned, I recommended a contract to be made for one-third the amount originally asked. It was then General McKinstry's province to refuse it or make it, as he considered best. If he had considered that I had given an imperative order, he would no doubt have made the contract; but I gave no order.
By the chairman :
Question. You speak of General McKinstry. We have heard that he has been imprisoned for a long time. Do you know the cause of his imprisonment, or anything about it?
Answer. I do not know the reason. No reason for his arrest has been communicated to me. I have not heard from any source entitled to credit why he was arrested. I have, of course, heard many surmises, but I know of no reason for his arrest; certainly none in his conduct there, so far as I am acquainted with it.
By Mr. Odell:
Question. How came General McKinstry to know it would be agreeable to you if he would refuse this contract?
Answer. I suppose he had heard me say, while we were arguing it for those two days, that I did not want to make that contract. He knew, of course, that it had been pressed upon me for two days, before I consented to it.
Question. After you had consented that this contract should be made for onethird of the amount asked, did you have any communication with General McKinstry upon the subject, before he decided the matter?
Answer. None at all; they went directly to him.
Question. You mean to say that the contract for the one-third was not declined by General McKinstry at your instance?
Answer. Certainly; I said nothing to him about it.
By Mr. Covode:
Question. Would Mr. Blair's friends, in your opinion, have been satisfied with the one-third contract, or did they want the whole?
Answer. I think they wanted the whole. They wanted, I think, an uninterrupted dictation in the matter of contracts.
Question. Was there any interference with you here, on the part of Mr. Montgomery Blair, previous to the failure to get this contract?
Answer. No, sir. Up to the 3d of September, the date of the last letter from Mr. Montgomery Blair, our relations were of the friendliest kind.
Question. Can you explain so sudden a change in the correspondence between you and Mr. Blair? Was it produced altogether by the failure to get that contract?
Answer. That was one of the reasons, I think.
By Mr. Odell:
Question. Who were the parties who came to you with Colonel Frank Blair for the contract?
Answer. I think they were Mr. Gurney and Mr. Howe.
Question. Were they practical mechanics in St. Louis?
Answer. I think Mr. Howe resided in St. Louis and Mr. Gurney in Chicago. Question. Had they the means of complying with what they proposed to do? Answer. I think so, fully-I presume so.
Question. And so far as you know, they were all proper and right in their prices?
Answer. So far as I know. I estimated that one-third of 40,000 men was about what it would be expedient to make a contract for at that time.
The following telegrams, military reports, and despatches, letters, orders and other authentic papers are submitted by General Frémont, in connexion with his testimony, as explanatory of the conduct of affairs in the department of the west while under his command.
[By telegraph from Cairo, June 13, 1861.]
ST. LOUIS ARSENAL, June 13, 1861.
If you wish more troops from Illinois inform me at Cincinnati. telegraph direct to any of my subordinates unless danger is imminent. G. B. MCCLELLAN, Major General U. S. Army.
Brigadier General N. LYON.
[By telegraph from Cincinnati, June 17, 1861.]
ST. LOUIS ARSENAL, June 17, 1861.
Colonel B. F. Smith, now at Quincy, has beenordered to re-enforce Colonel Curtis, on the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad, with the companies of his regiment now at Quincy. No other assistance can be offered by me at present.
Captain CHESTER HARDING,
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major General Commanding.
Assistant Adjutant General.
HEADQUARTERS ON WALNUT STREET,
DEAR SIR: I enclose you despatch from Colonel Brown, which he sent me this morning. We should have tents enough to keep our guns dry at least, and utensils for cooking for the men. It is impossible to march any great distance without. Our men are in fine spirits and anxious for duty. There is a memorandum on the back of the despatch of the items needed. Colonel Sigel moved on this morning.
Very respectfully, yours,
Brigadier General SWEENY.
J. B. SHAW,
Major 4th Regiment U. S. Reserve Corps.
[Colonel Brown's report, enclosed.]
HEADQUARTERS 4TH REGIMENT U. S. RESERVE CORPS, AT ROLLA.
SIR: I have to report that, in obedience to orders, I marched with ten companies of my regiment, (825 men and officers,) leaving St. Louis at 2 o'clock, and reaching this place at 12 o'clock at night. I find here neither provisions, water, tents, cartridge-boxes, nor any other material. It will be absolutely necessary that they be provided for, and I send back one of my officers to try and urge forward the necessary supplies.
I remain, sir, yours, respectfully,
B. GRATZ BROWN, Colonel 4th Regiment U. S. Reserve Corps.
Brigadier General T. W. SWEENY,
Commanding U. S. Reserve Corps.
Tents and cooking utensils; cartridge-boxes, belts, and bayonet scabbards; 500 blankets; 50 canteens, to replace others that leak; ropes and forage for five horses.