Jul. 3 Instructions to Brigadier General T. A. Morris

Buckhannon, Va., July 3, 1861.

General T. A. MORRIS, Philippi:

GENERAL: Yours of the 2nd has reached me. After questioning your messenger and hearing his full story, I confess that I do not share your apprehensions, and that I am not a little surprised that you feel the defense of Philippi so hazardous and dangerous an operation. If four thousand (nearly) of our men, in a position selected and fortified in advance, with ample time to examine the ground carefully and provide against any possibly plan of attack, are not enough to hold the place against any force these people can bring against it, I think we had better all go home at once. If we cannot fight in position, I am much mistaken as to our men.

I have, however, in deference to your views, ordered the Sixth Ohio on temporary duty with you until the crisis has passed, although I believe they can employed to more advantage at other points. This is all the re-enforcement I can now spare. As to the one or two squadrons of efficient cavalry asked for by Captain Benham, it seems hardly necessary for me to repeat that I have only one and a half companies, such as they are, and that more important duty is for them here.

You have only to defend a strong position, or, at most, to follow a retreating enemy. I fear you do not share the confidence I feel in our men, and that you regard their cavalry as more dangerous than I do. I feel that these men of ours can be worked up to any deed of daring, that their leaders can make them cool under fire, and that a couple of good companies of infantry can drive off all their cavalry in this mountainous country.

I propose taking the really difficult and dangerous part of this work on my own hands. I will not ask you to do anything that I would not be willing to do myself. But let us understand each other. I can give you no more re-enforcements. I cannot consent to weaken any further the really active and important column which is to decide the fate of the campaign. If you cannot undertake the defense of Philippi with the force now under your control, I must find some one who will. I have ordered up Latham’s company, all of Keys’ cavalry that are fit to take the field, and the Sixth Ohio.

Do not ask for further re-enforcements. If you do, I shall take it as a request to be relieved from your command and to return to Indiana.

I have spoken plainly. I speak officially. The crisis is a grave one, and I must have generals under me who are willing to risk as much as I am, and to be consent to risk their lives and reputation with such means as I can give them. Let this be the last of it. Give me full details as to the information you obtained – not mere rumors, but facts – and leave it to my judgment to determine what force you need. I wish action now and determination.

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

Major-General, Commanding.


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.