General Milroy is Spared a Court Martial

October 27, 1863

President Lincoln decides against ordering a court martial for the case of General Robert H Milroy: “In June last a Division was substantially lost at, and near Winchester, Va. At the time it was under Gen. Milroy as immediate commander in the field Gen. Schenck as Department commander at Baltimore and Gen. Halleck as General-in-Chief at Washington. Gen. Milroy, as immediate commander, was put in arrest, and subsequently a Court of Inquiry examined, chiefly with reference to disobedience of orders, and reported the evidence. The foregoing is a synoptical statement of the evidence, together with the Judge Advocate General’s conclusions. The disaster, when it came, was a surprize to all. It was very well known to Gen. Schenck and Gen. Milroy for some time before that Gen. Halleck thought the division was in general danger of a surprize at Winchester, that it was of no service there commensurate with the risk it incurred, and that it ought to be withdrawn; but although he more than once advised it’s withdrawal he never positively ordered it. Gen. Schenck, on the contrary, believed the service of the force at Winchester, was worth the hazard, and so did not positively order it’s withdrawal, until it was so late that the enemy cut the wire and prevented to [sic] order reaching Gen. Milroy. Gen. Milroy seems to have concurred with Gen. Schenck in the opinion that the force should be kept at Winchester at least till the approach of danger, but he disobeyed no order upon the subject. Some question can be made whether some of Gen. Halleck’s despatches to Gen. Schenck, should not have been construed to be orders to withdraw the force, and obeyed accordingly; but no such question can be made against Gen. Milroy. In fact the last order he received, was to be prepared to withdraw, but not to actually withdraw till further order, which further order never reached him. Serious blame is not necessarily due to every serious disaster, and I can not say that in this case, any of their officers is deserving of serious blame. No Court-Martial is deemed necessary or proper in the case.

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Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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