Lincoln's reply to Milroy after the defeat at Winchester 135th Anniversary Re-Enactment, REVISITING GETTYSBURG

June 14, 1998

President Abraham Lincoln's correspondence with Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy after the defeat at Winchester, Va., as recorded by the Library of America in "Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1859-1865":

June 29, 1863

I have never doubted your courage and devotion to the cause. But you have just lost a Division, and prima facie, the fault is upon you; and while that remains unchanged, for me to put you in command again, is to justly subject me to the charge of having out you there on purpose to have you lose another.

If I knew facts sufficient to satisfy me that you were not at fault, or error, the case would be different. But the facts I do know, while they are not at all conclusive, and I hope they may never prove so, tend the other way.

First, I have scarcely seen anything from you at any time, that did not contain imputations against your superiors, and a chafing against acting the part they had assigned to you. You have constantly urged the idea that you were persecuted because you did not come from West-Point, and you repeat it in these letters. This, my dear general, is I fear, the rock on which you have split.

In the Winchester case, you were under General Schenck, and he under Gen. Halleck. I know by Gen. Halleck's orderbook, that he, on the 11th. of June advised Gen. Schenck to call you in from Winchester to Harper's Ferry; and I have been told, but do not know, that Gen. Schenck gave you the order accordingly, on the same day - and I have been told, but do not know, that on receiving it, instead of obeying it, you sent by mail a written protest against obeying it, which did not reach him until you were actually beleaguered at Winchester. I say I do not know this. You hate West-Point generally, and General Halleck particularly; but I do know that it is not his fault that you were at Winchester on the 13th. 14th. and morning of the 15th. - the days of your disaster.

If Gen. Schenck gave the order on the 11th. as Gen. Halleck advised, it was an easy matter for you to have been off at least on the 12th. The case is inevitably between Gen. Schenck & you. Neither Gen. Halleck, nor any one else, so far as I know, required you to stay and fight 60,000, with 6,000, as you insinuate.

I know Gen. Halleck, through Gen. Schenck required you to get away, & that in abundant time for you to have done it. Gen. Schenck is not a West-Pointer and has no prejudice against you on that score.

Pub date: 6/14/98

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