Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/276
268 Southern Historical Society Papers.
This appeal to Pennsylvanians to turn bushwhackers is signed by a graduate of West Point and an officer of the regular army, who once commanded a corps in the Army of the Potomac. I was a soldier of a great military power; in the Forum of Nations I was Sheridan's equal. I had every right of war that he had. The South- ern Confederacy, like the Empires of Alexander and Charlemagne, has passed away, but that does not change the fact that it once ex- isted. FYom this it appears that Sheridan had begun hanging my men before he received Grant's dispatch of the i6th. At Berryville on the ijth, he said that he had hung one and shot six, the day be- fore. But he did not receive Grant's dispatch of the i6th, until 6:30 A. M. of the lyth, so the murders could not have been committed in compliance with Grant's orders. The government has published all the reports and correspondence, both Union and Confederate, in the Shenandoah campaign. There is not in them a single imputa- tion on the conduct of any of my men except that statement in Mer- ritt's report about the killing of McMasters in the fight at Front Royal, subsequent to this time (September 23d), which I shall again refer to. According to Sheridan, he had begun hanging prisoners on August 1 6th, and the only reason he gives for it is " Mosby has annoyed me." To that charge I plead guilty. Instead of our going in disguise, as the newspapers said, mine was the best uniformed body of men in the Confederate army. Every officer wore the in- signia of his rank. Sheridan speaks of having " exterminated" three of my officers; but how could he distinguish officers from pri- vates if they were not in uniform ? Now there can be no doubt that Grant's order was suggested by Sheridan's dispatch, which he had just received " Mosby attacked the rear of my train this morning en route from Harper's Ferry, and burned six wagons." It deceived Grant both as to the magnitude of the disaster and the strength of the attacking force. Then why should he trouble Grant about the loss of only six wagons ? The impression that it conveyed was that a few professed non-combatants, living at their homes in the Valley, in the guise of peace, had caught six wagons without a train guard, and burned them.
If Sheridan had told the whole truth about the destruction of the convoy Grant would not have sent him such an order, because he would have known that a band of marauders could not have per- formed such a feat. It is a coincidence that the order is of the same date as the dispatch from General Lee announcing the Berryville raid to the Confederate War Department: