General McDowell’s Endorsement on Lt. Tompkins’ Report

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT N. E. VIRGINIA,
Arlington, June 7, 1861.

Colonel D. HUNTER,
Third United States Cavalry, commanding Brigade:

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that Lieutenant tompkins’ report of the affair at Fairfax Court-House on the night of the 30th ultimo has been forwarded to their headquarters of the Army indorsed as follows:

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT N. E. VIRGINIA,
Arlington, June 5, 1861.
Lieutenant Tompkins behaved most gallantry in the spirited encounter in which he enslaved himself. He had two horses shot under him and is now temporarily disabled form a contused foot, caused by one of the horses which was shot falling on him.
The skirmish has given considerable prestige to our regular cavalry in the eyes of our people and of the volunteer regiments, but the lieutenant acted without authority, and went further than he knew he was desired or expected to go, and frustrated unintentionally, for the time, a more important movement. He has been so informed by me, verbally; and whilst in the future he will not be less gallant, he will be more circumspect.
Respectfully forwarded to the headquarters of the Army:
IRVIN McDOWELL,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

I am further directed to say that the General-in-Chief has fully concurred in the opinion of the general commanding the department.

It is perceived that Lieutenant Tompkins’ first report in this case has been given to the public through columns of the New York Tribune. I am directed to ask you to give such instructions that this may not become a practice. Official reports and papers of this nature are not to be considered within the control of those who make them, but of house to whom they are made.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES B. FRY,
Assistant Adjutant-General.


Sources

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.