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[newspaper clipping]
     HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, HEINTZELMAN S}
  CORPS. CUMBERLAND LANDING, Va., May 15, 1862.}
  DEAR SIR: I am sorry to find that, very far from
military chiefs being immaculate, that their subordi-
nates, relying on their straight-forward conduct and
ruthfulness, might disregard political influence as
extraneous and unnecessary, so grossly have I been
outraged (and I say so as representing my Division) by
the intrigues of the General-Commanding this army
that I now appeal to you and my friends for protect-
tion against imposture.
Gen. MCCLELLAN is the first commander in history, 
who has either dared, or been so unprincipled as to
ignore those under him, who have not only fought a
good fight, but even saved his army, himself and his
reputation.  And here, precisely, is the point.  From
want of frankness and reliance in his native supe-
riority, he fears to admit the services of others (my
division in particular) lest he thereby condemns him-
self for a want of generalship, which gave rise to the
dangerous crisis.  So a great and successful battle
where the unprecedented number of 2,000 have fallen,
passed over by him in silence, while the day after
that fearful fight he forestalls the glory of the victors
by vamping up, in a deceitful official telegram, a 
mere flurry of a skirmish, where HANCOCK, (a charm-
ing officer and gentleman,) with preponderating num-
bers, drives, for an instant, a paltry few of the enemy,
with a pittance of a loss, which bespeaks the littleness
of the transaction.
  This move of HANCOCK S, based on information that
the enemy had abandoned their minor defences op-
posed to our right, to concentrate their forces on our
left, was gotten up at 4   P. M., expressly to relieve
from the pressure the severe fight of the Third Corps,
enacted by HOOKER from 7 A. M. until my Division, at
near 3 P. M., entered under fire and took the place of
his exhausted remants, demoralized by fatigue,
abandonment and want of cartridges.  The fire, that
lasted from about 4  , for some twenty minutes, and
which then ceased, was most distinctly without re-
sults, for it was not followed up by any advance; and
left me, used to the fields of battle in Europe,
as in Mexico, with the full belief that an at-
tempted succor had been given up, and that I must
alone look to myself for my own means of success.
For I well knew that, besides the repeated messen-
gers that had been detached to the right by Gens.
HOOKER and HEINTZELMAN, that all there must be
aware of our severe fight, from our cannon and
musketry, which still rolled with the full tide of
battle.  This fire, tantamount to that of a half
brigade, which I allude to, from about 4   to 5
P. M., was the only one that took place within
three miles of my position after my arrival, at 
2   P. M. for I was ever constantly far in
advance on the plain, in the midst of the heavy
abbatis.  Yet Gen. MCCLELLAN vaunts the one and 
assumes to ignore the other.  The engagement where
a similar loss in the army of the Allies constituted
the great battle of the Alma, an engagement here
my few (5) weak regiments suffered more (some 450
killed and wounded) than the 12,000 men of a French
division, when, in 1859, it won for its General a
world-wide fame as the victor of Montebello.
  But when Gen. McClellan passes over, as if in
ignorance, an engagement of such great proportions,
it proves, beyond the blackness of the deed, which
breaks down by its iniquitous injustice the spirits of
his entire soldiery, that it has been the result of a ma-
lignant design of covering up from the scrutiny of the
American public, a weakness of his own, a flaw in
his generalship which he well knows, if once made
patent to eur people, would bring him down from his
accidental superiority lower than the world ever
dreamed of, when exercising retribution toward MC-
DOWELL for the disasters of Bull Run.
  This action of Gen. MCCLELLAN has but one parallel
in history, his incarceratin STONE, one of the ablest
men of the army, on the plea that it was done on the
pressure of the Abolitionists, when it, in reality, was
to damn past being listened to, one whom he knew, if
questioned by  military committee, would not avoid
bringing to light the incapacity (and subsequent con-
trivances to smother it) which had exposed Col.
BAKER, and then left him, helpless, doomed and un-
supported, at the battle of Ball s Bluff.
  There is a secret in this matter, and although patriot-
ism, on the eve of an expected action, may prevent
me from publishing to the world the weakness of the
man, to whom are confided our Union destinies, it
does not preclude me from vindicating for myself and
my command a recognition of our service and ex-
posure, (no officer has ever exposed himself as I did,
for the crisis demanded it,) and unburthen myself to 
friends.
  As STONE has been militarily killed under a false
pretence, so the secret of MCCLELLAN S sending an
official bulletin on the 6th inst., after entering Wil-
liamsburgh, in which he ignores all but HANCOCK,
and is perfectly silent as to us, and our battle of seri-
ous way (although perfectly instructed by Col. SWEIT-
ZER, his A. D. C., whom he had sent on the night of
the 5th to me and HEINTZELMAN for information) is
this that he might obtain for Gen. HANCOCK an im-
portent character in the crisis of the fifth, the first
prestige of its capability of fighting (which invariably
petty disasters and long inaction had induced many
to mistrust,) with which, with the eagerness of the
whole North, it was ready to greet the first
victor in the Army of the Potomac.  And
thus kill the military success before the
country, of the real persons, so entitled, from
the fact of the public being satiated by the first news
 more serious than this, not only taking from those
who merit the high sentiment of first prestige, but
more particularly divert the minds of the country that
that the culpable fact was, that he (MCCLELLAN) had
allowed HOOKER S single Division to fight unsupport-
ed from morning until my arrival, near 2 P. M., and
from the fact that his  communications,  from this
being the direct and nearest road from Williamsburgh
to Yorktown, were thus put in jeopardy; and that
had a panic, or even a defeat, resulted here, that all
his army confusedly huddled together, with an im-
passabe obstructed single defile in his rear, where
trains and artillery pieces were helplessly jammed 
together and stalled, must have been victims worse
than at Bull Run.  The case would have been ire-
trievable.
  In vain would he plead that he disgraced SUMNER
by sending him back to Yorktown, from dissatisfac-
tion at his not having extricated HANCOCK, after his
pseudo-victory, and for sending way to the rear for
me, the last troops in the far defiles, to support HOOK-
ER, overpressed in the front.  For it was not for Gen.
SUMNER, commander of a defined command, to substi-
tute himself for MCCLELLAN, the Chief.  In vain
would he plead that HEINTZELMAN should have proved
a genius; and improvised some stroke of strategy, for
the worthy old General has never pretended but to do
his duty in his sphere, and the General-in-Chief is
head of all to furnish plans, and to expressly blend
into a whole the energy of all, which was impossible,
as he was not there.
  In vain will he impute to Gen. HOOKER the com-
mitting himself to a general fight involving the whole
army, when a few regiments would have sufficed to
hold his own until the designs of the Chief were
made known; for it that Chief is miles in the rear 
when his army is in full career, there are very few
Generals, however superior their talents, (and of
such class is Gen. HOOKER,) who, under the long-
known duplicity and favoritism and despotism of
Gen. MCCLELLAN, would have ventured to risk his
casting opprobrium on them for hesitation, or do any
more than the best they could, and rely on him for
justice.
  Such is the secret of this incomprehensible mys-
tery, and it is within the comprehension of the first
citizen s mind that will spread before him the map of
Virginia.
  But if one point in this malignity, working with a
monopolized telegraph, and a trameled press, has
created with me more indignation than another, it
sadly is that the fate of my two most gallant aids, and
very dear friends, Capt. WILSON, A. A. General, and
Lieut. BARNARD, have been purposely kept from the
honors due to their gallantry; the same as was the
case when my skirmish at Sangste rs Station produced
the enemy s hurried retreat from Mannassas, I was
debarred by every under-hand influence, from having
published to the world, the heroic end of that most 
noble martyr to the first cavalry success, Lieut. HED-
DEN.  Yes, this is a repetition of those times, for them,
as now, I was the first general officer whose reports
had been excluded from the Press.  Gen. MCCLELLAN,
from the early commencement o fhis career, seems to
have singled me out (the 13th on the 1ist of 212 Briga-
diers, nearly the senior Division General on the 1ist.)
to be marked victim of his indirect injustice.
 However, in this matter I am not acting, however
outraged, from personal motives, but to unvail to the
country, when opportunity shall permit, the weak-
ness and unreliability of the General in command.
  I inclose to you my report of the battle of the 5th.
		  Very truly yours,
		PH. KEARNY, Brig.-General,
	Commanding Third Division, Third Corps.
O. S. HALSTED, Jr., Esq., Williard s Hotel, Washing-
  ton.
  N. B. The following is in pencil, at the bottom:
 This letter is not intended for publication now; but
I hope, without forestalling the fearful condemnation
that must follow Major-Gen. MCCLELLAN, for I care
not to make trouble, that you will show it to all my
friends, as due to me and mine.		KY. 
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page two hundred and twelve
Description:Published letter written by General Kearny regarding his disapproval of General McClellan.
Date:1862-05-15
Subject:Baker, Colonel; Barnard, Lieutenant; Battle of Williamsburg (Va.); Casualties; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Halstead, O.S.; Hancock, Winfield Scott; Heden, Lieutenant; Heintzelman, Samuel Peter; Hooker, Joseph; Kearny, Philip; McClellan, George B.; McDowell, Irvin; Military; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Stone, Charles P.; Sumner, Edwin V.; Sweitzer, Colonel; Wilson, Captain
Coverage (City/State):Cumberland Landing, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Scan Date:2010-06-17

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.
Subject:Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.