Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 4, 1862 (Wednesday): A Misunderstanding Over Numbers

General John Pope
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 4, 1862. 

The following dispatch was received this afternoon at the War Department:
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
    General Pope, with 40,000 men, is 30 miles south of Florence, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports 10,000 prisoners and deserters the enemy and 15,000 stand of arms captured.* Thousands of the enemy are throwing away their arms. A farmer says that when Beauregard learned that Colonel Elliott, had cut the railroad on his line of retreat he became frantic, and told the men to save themselves the best way they could. We captured nine locomotive and a number of cars. One of the former is already repaired and is running to-day. Several more will be in running order in a few days. The result is all that I could desire.

Major-General, Commanding.

*See also Colonel Johnston's report, No. 38.
+See note on p.669.

Official Records, Series I., Vol.10, Part 1, Page 774.

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 3, 1865.
Major-General H. W. HALLECK, U. S. A.,
Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: The war has now ended and the events and incidents connected with it are passing into history.    As I do not wish that any report or misconception which has been circulated to my prejudice and which is susceptible of explanation should stand recorded against me, and as the reasons which actuated me in preserving silence until this time no longer exist, I desire to invite your attention to a dispatch published in the newspapers, dated at Corinth, Miss., June 4, 1862, purporting to have been sent by you to the Secretary of War, and containing substantially the following words,viz: "General Pope is 30 miles south of Corinth, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports 10,000 prisoners and deserters and 15,000 stand of arms captured," &c. I do not know that you ever sent such a dispatch; but as I do know that I never made such a report, I infer that if you sent the dispatch in question you must have done so under a very great misapprehension. I have therefore to request that you furnish me a copy of any report made by me upon which such a dispatch as that in question was sent. I have full records of all my letters, dispatches, and reports to you during the operations at Corinth, and no such report is among them.
    I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,


WASHINGTON, July 5, 1865.

Major-General JOHN POPE, Present:
    GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 3rd instant. As my papers are all boxed up for transportation to California, I am not able to refer to the dispatches to which you allude nor can I trust my memory in regard to communications made more than three years ago, further than to say that I never reported to the Secretary of War dispatches received from you which were not so received.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Official Records, Series. I., Vol. 10, Part 2, Page 635.

This rather odd bit of controversy foreshadows what would become more and more common after the war.  Generals attempting to correct and/or amend the record concerning items which would find their way into the press.  In this case Pope is entitled, at the least, to be puzzled by Halleck's memo to Stanton.  Although Pope seldom missed a chance to raise the estimation of his record, he never sent a dispatch to Halleck which said anything like what Halleck telegraphed Stanton.  The confusion my exist from Pope stating he had captured 10,000 stand of arms (not prisoners).  His actual prisoners from Elliott's expedition were no more than 2,000.  Pope called again, after Halleck's reply for him to check his records and to have those of the War Department examined.  No official reply from Halleck exists.  

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