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United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 21st - MS 562: Transcripts
COMMON PLEAS COURT
Hamilton, Ohio, July 15th, 1889
Maj Arnold McMahan
I have received your communication of June 20th together with what you say is a copy of a letter you sent me April 22, 1864. The contents would have taken me by surprise, had I not seen what purported to be an interview with you published in the Toledo Commercial. The letter you say you sent me in 1864 I never received, and although my mail then came regularly- that time it must have failed. Had I received such a letter, on account of its misstatements at least, I should not have forgotten the fact.
You say you have no doubt I will remember the order I gave you, and the position in which I left your command on the evening of the 20th of September at Chickamauga. I must in reply say, I not only do not remember the circumstance to which you allude, but state positively, that I gave you no order, and never left your command in any position whatever. As to my knowing about your want of ammunition, I only know that the troops on the hill were generally without ammunition, but nothing about your particular command. You say that I saw your command in obedience to my orders expend its last round in protecting my right, and for which you received my thanks, and a voluntary promise of a good certificate. This is entirely without foundation, and is new to me, I cannot recall that I ever had the honor of speaking to you. And I know, I never asked you to protect my right. If I had promised you a "good certificate," and you had rendered the important service you mention, I would have been very ungrateful, and deserved your reproach, had I failed to mention you in my report of the battle. The fact is, the right of my brigade was protected by the 35th Ohio, and such squads as Gen'l Boynton, who commanded that regiment, could get into line.
But the most wonderful of your services, was, when, as you say, you covered my retreat with the bayonet. Of course I cannot tell what you were doing with your bayonets, but as I never retreated, you must have been engaged in taking care of some other brigade.
You are laboring under an hallucination about all this matter. In the final place, I never gave you any command whatever. I never promised to make report of the valuable services of your regiment, for at that time, I knew nothing of what you had done. You were not connected on my right. You did not protect my flank. You did not protect a retreat that was never made.
If, as you say, you were compelled to surrender to overwhelming numbers, that was sometime before I marched with my command to McFarlands Gap. My brigade was only moved by order of Gen'l Thomas and was the last troops to leave the hill. At that time you were probably within the rebel lines, as before leaving we repulsed their last attack upon our right, which was the place, where, you say, you were giving my brigade protection.
You have certainly been imposed upon by some one, or have mistaken the name of the officer who gave you orders.
It may aid you to know that at the time of your capture you were more than three hundred yards beyond the extreme right of my brigade. Mitchell's brigade was withdrawn at sundown marching directly to his rear. Whitaker withdrew by his right flank, along the ridge. Your charge as I learn was several hundred yards to my right in a depression in the hill, which was pointed out to me a short time ago when I was examining the battlefield.
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