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Full text of "Corrections in History of Second army corps"

E 467 

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.057 C8 

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Corrections 



in History of Second Army Corps. 



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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. 

Very respectfully, 

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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