Gambar halaman

should be examined, that it may be taken only at its intrinsic, and not at its adventitious worth. If it has been depreciated by what has been already said, such depreciation cannot but impair it throughout, and cause the reader to receive with more than doubt all that it urges against Porter.

Notwithstanding his evident foregone conclusion of the guilt of Porter, and his belief that to establish it to the satisfaction of the dullest and least charitable, it was most important to make good the hypothesis of his antecedent meditated treachery, and not satisfied, that what were properly characterized as the “ravings and wild fantacies” of Lieut. Colonel Smith, would have that effect, he seeks to accomplish the end by resorting to certain telegrams, sent from time to time, during the campaign, by Porter to General BURNSIDE. Some of these are in part given, and as the reader will see most unjustly applied. Porter reported to Pope in writing, on 26th, and in person on the morning of 27th of August, '62. He had left Burnside, (under whose command he had been for some days before,) and he was requested by that oflicer to inform him from time to time hy telegraph, how matters progressed. This request was virtually an order, and so considered, and acted upon by both officers. General Burnside said that he regarded sending the despatches to him by Porter, " as an official act done by him in the performance of his duty," under his “ direction.” But this, says the Judge Advocate, (p. 180,) “so far as the purpose for which they were offered by the Government is concerned, it is wholly immaterial under whose prompting, or for what end they were written."

Not for what end? However important to the public good the information they gave was-however patriotie the motive, the sending of the despatches, was immaterial in an inquiry as to the guilty or innocent, the animus of the accused in the sending' of them. They were offered by the Government to prove that Porter, at the time, “entertained feelings of contempt and hostility towards the army of Virginia at its commander," and, “it matters not whether in a private and confidential, or in an official communication."

So reasons the Judge Advocate. Besides its shallowness, which of itself condemns it, he does not inform the President that they were sent under orders, or of what was proved by Burnside and others, though both facts, were most important to enable the President to pass understandingly upon the case, that prery fart communicated by the despatches was true. Burnside was asked by the Court: “From what you know now, have you any reason to believe that the information given by General Porter in these telegrams, (meaning all that were sent to him,) as to the actual state of the army under General Pope, was not correct?" and he answered: I am myself quite satisfied that it wus correct." “But that opinion is merely one based upon the information I then received, and what I have since heard." (P. 184.) And the Government

offered no evidence to prove that they were not correct to the letter. Nor does the Judge Advocate give the President, nor allude to it in any part of his review, the benefit of General Burnside's opinion, formed on these despatches, as well as on his whole intercourse with and knowledge of Porter, that from the first, and to the period when he testified, he, Burnside, was satisfied that he would prove, and had proved, true to his du'y, to Pope and the country. This is, too, the more surprising, as his very first question to Burnside discovers that he considered his opinion important. Could he have obtained the one he desired, would he not hare used it, and even with more confidence than he uses the supposed “inter-communings of spirits,” to show that Porter meditated treachery ? His question was : · Will you state whether at the time these despatches were received from General Porter, (say between 26th and 29th of August inclusive,) any of them excited in your mind the apprehension that General Porter might not be inclined to do his whole duty as a subordinate under General Pope?" The answer was: I RECEIVED NO SUCH IMPRESSION AS TILT FROM TIIE DESPATCHES. I saw in General Porter's despatches eractly what I heard erpressed by a large portion of the officers with whom I happened to be in communication at the time, a very great lack of confidence in the management of the campaign. Il was not confined to General Porter. I saw in his despatches, and I told General Porter himself so, what may have been indiscrert language; BUT NOTHING TIIAT LED ME, FOR ONE MOMENT, TO FEEL THAT HE WOULD NOT DO HIS WHOLE DUTY." (P. 181.)

This evidence fcould it have been by design ?) was not only not given to the President, but its existence was not even intimated, although the Judge Advocate was instructed by the President “to report fully upon the bearing of the testimony (the whole, of course,) in reference to the charges and specifications," upon which Porter was tried.

Neither was the President informed that, in answering the question by the Court, (the one already quoted,) which was intended, if possible, to find out whether Porter went under the command of General Pope with unfavorable impressions towards that owner, or whether such "impressions were gained after he was on the ground,” the same witness testified : “ He moved his troops off rapidly, and marched them at night, and everything within my limits inpeared to me to indicate that he was DETERMINED TO GET IS TROOPS UP THERE AS RAPIDLY AS POSSIBLE. I SAW NOTU

INDICATE TIE REVERSE.” (P. 182.) Nor was the President advised that Burnside had testified, that in departing from an order of General McClellan as to the movement of his comunand from the Peninsular, and when it was known that they were to go to the aid of Pope, Porter was enabled to accelerate the movement-in the words of the witness, “to embark that much sooner and send the transports back for others,” (184.) Nor, finally, was the President informed that, in answer


ut the war,

ing a question of the accused, the same witness had said: “I have never •seen anything to lead me to think that he (the accused) WAS ANYTHING BUT A FAITHFUL AND LOYAL OFFICER ;" nor that, in this opinion, every officer who knew him, and had witnessed his conduct throu as well as when he was under Pope's command, expressed, and in the strongest terms, PERFECT CONCURRENCE IN THIS OPINION.

General McClellan, under whose special eye he had served in council and on the field, so spoke of him. He said that from the time Porter "knew he was to go to the assistance of General Pope,” he did, in his opinion, do "all that an energetic, and zealous, and patriotic officer could have done." (Page 196.)

But the opinions of sensible men-men of well known character, intelligence, and patriotism-seem to have been considered by the Judge Advocate light as air, when contrasted with those of Smith and Roberts. The former, he appears to have thought, possessed but the ordinary means nature furnishes ordinary men to form opinions, whilst to one, of the latter, at least, Smith, she had supplied “instrumentalities which, while defying all human analysis, nevertheless completely command the homage of human faith,” and as to Roberts, his well known and universally acknowledged character for perfect veracity, almost chronic love of truth and spotless reputation with his brother oflicers, placed his evidence and the sincerity of his opinions beyond all possible suspicion.

That a chivalrons officer, whose life had been given to his country, and who but recently had so added to the reputation of its flag, should be sacrificed to reasoning so repugnant to common sense that the unprejudiced mind rejects it at once as an insult to its intelligence, is one of the many extraordinary occurrences which, during the present rebellion, has so astounded the public. What but intellect perverted, could claim, as is done, for treason, the nobleness of patriotism,—for oaths violated, the character of virtue.-for rebellion, the justification of an absurd theory, or of an oppression that existed nowhere but in a diseased fancy? And what adds, if that be possible, to the injustice of the use attempted to be made of these despatches, and so strongly indicates a predetermined conclusion against Porter, is the fact that, although stated to be offered to establish his alleged contemplated treachery, the Judge Advocate objected to Porter's giving in evidence other despatches to General Burnside a few days before and after the 26th and 29th of August, (the dates of those offered by the Government,) that is, from the 22d of August to the 1st of September, to disprove the alleged purpose, the animus. Strange as it may seem, the objection was sustained by the Court, and the proof rejected. A protest was entered, --(see Appendix 1.) That protest was published in the papers of the day, and in a short period the Court and the Judge Advocate saw that the ruling of the Court was received with astonishment and disapprobation by the intelligent press of the country. Clearly illegal as the decision was, and strange as it is that it did not so

appear to the Judge Advocate and the Court at the first, they adhered to it until the manifestation of public opinion on the subject caused him to. suggest the waiving of his objection, and the Court to admit the evidence. The despatches were then received, but no one, aware of the circumstances under which they were received, believed that, however conclusive they were in disproving the alleged criminal intent or animus, they would have the slightest effect with the Court or the Judge Advocate. The result proved that in this opinion there was no error. Nor does the Judge Advocate, in his review, even notice them. The only reference he makes · to them is to a single one of these despatches which Porter desired to

send, and was not permitted to send, to Major General McClellan, dated 2d of September, 1862, and that one is not given at length; and, although admitted to be “full of ferrent patriotism and professions of devotion to his duty in connection with the Army of Virginia and its commander," the Judge Advocate adds that, “unhappily it came too late." The merest trifle, which a fair mind would exclude as evidence of charges of dishonor and treachery against any one, much less a soldier, ever before esteemed, is seized upon with avidity and tortured, or sought to be tortured, inconsistent as the effort is with common sense, into proof of guilt, whilst the weightiest facts, those which, with such a mind, would be conclusive of innocence, for the most part are not mentioned at all, or when in part referred to, are rejected as unimportant, or as coming "too late.” The President, however, should have been told of them, and the public should see the nature of the facts so discarded as not proving, or hardly as tending to prove, Porter's innocence of purpose. The Judge Advocate, even in regard to the despatches which he uses as establishing, in his view, the guilty purpose, omits to give the whole of any one of them. IIe extracts a few expressions from each, without alluding to its context, a practice ever unfair and unreliable. Had even the whole of these despatches been disclosed the President would have seen, and the public, for whom the review of the Judge Advocate was also designed, as proved by its general circulation by the War Department, that these despatches themselves proved no faithlessness on Porter's part to Pope or the country, either actual or contemplated. Whilst those which he does not give at all, or even allude to, with the exception of the one just mentioned, to McClellan, of 20 September, all demonstrate a fixed purpose and earnest solicitude to do his full duty to both. (The reader will find these despatches in pp. 228-235.) It is confidently asserted that every one of them evinces not only a mere willingness, but the strongest wish to do every thing in his power to render the campaign successful, or, failing in that, to lessen, as far as possible, any disaster, that might befall it, and especially to save the Capitol. His orders, too, to his corps commanders, to be found in the same pages, evidence intelligence, zeal and energy, and the despatch referred to, to McClellan, of 2d September, whilst he was still under the command of Pope, and involved in his fate, breathes the same


patriotic spirit. That despatch was an answer to one from McClellan of .the day before, urging hin “and all friends” to give "the fullest and most cordial co-operation to General Pope.” A despatch written, as McClellan states, (p). 197,) at the instance of and to satisfy the apprehensions of the President, and not to remove any apprehensions of his own. To quote VicClellan's words: “I had no doubt then in my own mind but that the Army of the Potomac, and all connected with it, would do their duty without there being any necessity for any action on my part.” To that message, Porters of the 2d says: “YOU MAY REST ASSURED THAT ALL YOUR FRIENDS, AS WELL AS EVERY LOVER OF HIS COUNTRY, WILL EVER GIVE, AS TIEY ILAVE GIVEN, TO GENERAL POPE, THEIR CORDIAL CO-OPERATION AND CONSTANT SUPPORT IN TUE EXECUTION PLANS OCR KILLED AND WOUNDED AND ENFEEBLED TROOPS ATTEST OUR DEVOTION TO DUTY."

So conscious was Porter of having fully performed his duty, the moment he received McClellan's despatch he songht Pope, showed it to bim, and asked, “why he supposed such a despatch had been sent to lim?" (P 20.) Pope conld give him no explanation. JIis answer to MeClellan he was not allowed to send, but it clearly evinces the utter groundlessness of suspicion. His " killed and wounded and enfeebled troops.” he points to, as he well might, as the witnesses of duty devotedly performed of his command, gallantly led by himself, (for he ever led it,) in the battle of the 30th of August, three days before, in a vain effort to turn the tide of Pope's defeat, and save the honor of our flag, consisting of about seven thousand men, he lost in killed and wounded OVER TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTY-TWO, INCLUDING IN TIIE KILLED ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN OFFIERS. All this, however, in the view of the Judge Advocate, was "too late”-gallantry too tardily displayed--wounds and deaths proving nothing-patriotism and sense of duty speaking but for the day, and not an hour before The 27th, 28th and 29th of Angust found him a traitor in fact, as well as intent. The 30th, a noble soldier and patriot! And yet, with the transparent injustice of such reasoning, the Judre Adrocate, without seeming to be aware of it, and of its absurlity, tells the President and ihe conmtry, in concluding his review, that “the Court was careful to give to the accused the benefit of all well founded donbts that arose in their minds in reference either to the fact of disobedience or in reference to the measure of criminality that prompted it, and hence fomu him not guilty of the 4th and 5th speeifications of the first charge;" and that, in the same spirit of generous clemency, he himself withdrew "the file specification of the second charge.” (P. 317.)

And this statement is seriously made, withont even intimating that in the support of the specifieations of the first charge to which he refers, there was not only no evidence offered by the Government, but that what it did give, without considering what was produced by the acensed, established ihe utter groundlessness of both; and without informing the President that the specification of the second charge, which he claims credit

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »