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in History of Second Army Corps.
General Walker, in his " History of the Second Army-
Corps," has done a great wrong to General Joshua T. Owen,
who commanded the " Philadelphia Brigade " in the Army
of the Potomac. In a ^oot note which appears on page 479, he
says : " Brigadier General Joshua T. Owen was placed in arrest
by General Gibbon. He was subsequently mustered out under
charges of misconduct."
Again on page 480: "In order fully to develop the
enemy's new position, General Gibbon was instructed to send
forward a brigade, and for this purpose selected that of
Owen; but, this commander being in arrest, he looked around
for General Carroll to ask him,jto take the command," etc., etc.
Now, the fact is, that General Owen was not placed in
arrest until a much later period, a*nd then not for" misconduct"
but for " disobedience of orders." " Misconduct," in army
parlance, may mean cowardice in presence of the enemy.
General Owen does not suppose that General Walker meant
to represent that even General Gibbon charged him with
cowardice, but the language used in the foot note will bear
that construction. Disobedience of orders may arise from mis-
interpretation of them, or some error in their transmission
through the staff, or even their'not being received in time, and
it may not involve any miscondnct at all.
To say the least of it. General Walker was guilty of gross
carelessness, when he essayed to depart from his direct course,
and in so conspicuous a manner as by a foot-note, to cast a
slur upon an officer of General Owen's rank and experience
in the field ; he should at least have taken care to be accurate.
That he was not so, is abundantly proven by his own recital of
military movements which transpired subsequently, in which
General Owen is represented as taking part.
The matters which are described on page 479 have
reference to the assault on the "Salient." It was well-known
that General Owen was in command of his brigade on that
day, and that his troops captured the apex of the " Salient,"
together with the two guns mounted on the east side of the
" Salient," and which were turned upon the retreating enemy.
On the next day, when a demonstration was ordered on
the enemy's position to ascertain its nature and the strength
of his forces. General Owen was absent by permission of
General Hancock, commanding the corps, to go to his head-
quarter wagon, some distance in the rear, to procure a change
of linen, and to brace up generally by taking a bath, etc.,
which he had not had the opportunity of doing for more than
a week ; and there not appearing to be any immediate
necessity for his presence. Nor will General Gibbon say that
he was then in arrest.
And so on down to Cold Harbor, General Walker
continues to describe General Owen as taking part in all the
preceding battles and skirmishes. How then could he be in
arrest, for that involves the suspension of all official functions?
Again, General Walker is in error when he says; " He
was subsequently mustered out under charges of misconduct."
He was not tried, and, therefore, in the eye of even military
law, he was not guilty of the offences charged. General Gibbon
did not press for trial, as he knew he would fail in his proof.
The reason General Owen was mustered out was on account
of the following request made by him, in consequence of
repeated acts of injustice and oppression received at the hands
of the division commander:
Gen. Owen does not manifest any disposition to bring on
a controversy either with Gen. Walker or his friend, Gen.
Gibbon. But he stands ready to accept the gauge of battle, if
either so wishes. There are still living some of the officers
of the Second Corps, whose recollections of the stirring events
of the war are as fresh and, it is believed, more reliable than
those of this historian, and who are ever ready to vindicate a
comrade, if unjustly assailed. " VINDEX."
Headquarters Second Brigade, Second Div., Second Corps,
At Cold Harbor, June 5, 1864.
To F. A. WALKER,
Colonel iind Assistant Adjutant General Second Corf's.
Sir : — I have the honor to request that I may be trans-
ferred to some other command, as I cannot consent to serve
any longer under the present commander of the division. I
do not feel that my reputation is secure whilst serving under
him. If I cannot be transferred, then I request that my
resignation be accepted, and I be mustered out of the service.
JOSHUA T. OWEN.
Brigadier General i'. S. I'alitnteers.
Upon his forwarding this communication through division
headquarters, — as he had to do, — General Gibbon was angered,
and as he has always thought, and still thinks, he was placed
in arrest because he made this request in the manner and
form in which he did. He was placed in arrest on the 8th
of June, and mustered out on the i8th of July, 1864, and not
under charges, as the following official notice will prove :
" Brigadier General Joshua T. Owen, U. S. Volunteers,
was mustered out of service July 18, 1864."
Adjutant General's Office,
December 28, 1886.
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