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MR. BOTTS'S OFFICIAL PROTEST.
McDaniels's Negro Jail, April 24, 1862. Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH, Secretary of War: Sir --The undersigned asks leave to file the following protest against the reasoning of the Court of Inquiry which sat in his case, as also the decision of the Department thereupon, and that it may be made a part of the record.
1. Upon the allegation that there can be no such thing as neutrality in a výar like this now in progress, the undersigned concedes, as a general principle, in time of war between foreign states, that no individual owing military service can be permitted to occupy a position of neutrality, for every one indisposed to take up arms might avail themselves of that plea, and thus deprive the state of the means of carrying on the war; but he submits that this is not so in the case of a rebellion, where no such military service can of right be demanded, and especially of a party who is exempt by law, as is the case of the undersigned on account of age, being now upon the border of sixty years.
2. He protests that the neutrality he exercised was in no violation of any law, state or Confederate, which subjected him to the injuries, wrongs, and injustice that have been dealt out to him with an unsparing hand.
3. He protests against the causes of his arrest and imprisonment, with the finding of the Court, and the approval of the Department, as being wholly inconsistent and contradictory in this—that he was arrested and confined as alleged upon the suspicion of having taken part in the war, whereas he is detained in confinement for the reason that he had not taken part in the war; and, finally, he is subjected to a punishment which imposes upon him as an absolute necessity the very neutrality for which he is confined and punished.
4. He protests that among the thousands in this state, and hundreds in this city, who have taken no more part in this war than the undersigned, that he alone should be selected as an object worthy of the attention and power of the Confederate government. It may be a compliment, but one in which he takes neither pride nor satisfaction.
5. He protests that this government has no right to require him to do any thing that, according to his life-long opinions, a thousand times expressed in the last thirty years, founded upon the best convictions of his judgment, would involve him in the crime of treason, and the forfeiture of his life to the government of the United States, if ever and whenever they should re-establish their authority in Virginia, three fourths of which is now in their possession.
All of which is respectfully submitted. John M. BOTTS..
Upon the reading of this protest, the Secretary agreed that I might stay at home, if I would confine myself to my own house and behave myself like a good boy, and make no effort to impress upon the public mind that the Confederacy was incapable of establishing its independence; to which I replied, “I had no disposition to do so, for, if I was not greatly mistaken, they would not be long in finding that out for themselves." I then expected " Little Mac" in Richmond before the end of the week, knowing he could come in any day that he thought proper to make the effort, as the authorities were then prepared for an evacuation rather than meet his greatly superior force, which they were by no means prepared to encounter -M'Clellan's force at that time being certainly not less than from eighty to a hundred thousand, and Johnson's not exceeding forty-five thousand, and his intrenchments at that time far less formidable than they were subsequently made. So well satisfied did every body seem to be that M'Clellan must come to Richmond that every preparation was made for the evacuation of the city. Every valuable document and paper of the government was removed to Columbia, South Carolina; the banks were all closed, their books, specie, etc., sent off; the printing-presses were all likewise sent away; the yellow flag was hoisted over all the hospitals in the city; tar, pitch, turpentine, and other combustible materials were collected around the tobacco warehouses; the locomotives kept for several weeks in readiness for the immediate departure of the government officials; when, finding "Little Mac" would listen neither to the persuasion nor peremptory orders of his superiors (see his Report), their alarm abated, and on the 17th of April they passed the first conscript act, under which the young conscripts poured into Virginia from all parts of the Confederacy by thousands, tens of thousands, and fifties of thousands, until the command of General Lee (who had succeeded General Johnson after he was wounded in the battle of the “Seven Pines') was variously estimated by their own presses at from one hundred and eighty-eight to two hundred and eight thousand men (though I suppose this was rather exaggerated), when, taking advantage of a midnight march on the night of the 25th of June, Lee hurried off some thirty or forty thousand men from his right wing, that confronted the main body of M‘Clellan's left on the opposite side of the Chickahominy, marched them up to Mechanicsville 'Turnpike, which they reached about daybreak, and threw them with great and sudden impetuosity upon M‘Clellan's left and weakest point, and by overwhelming superiority of numbers drove him for seven days, from point to point, down the Chickahominy, until he reached and made a stand at Malvern Hills, where the tables were most effectually turned, and the most decisive of all the battles during the seven days' fight was made, in all of which the Confederate losses were immense, and far greater than those on the Federal side; but all the prestige of victory inured to the Southern cause by forcing a retreat of the Federal army, and the occupation of the various positions they had held.
The day after the battle of “Malvern Hill" M'Clellan could havo marched into Richmond without serious impediment, for the Southern army, worn out with fatigue and discouraged by this last unexpected disaster, was in a state of extreme disorganization ; but instead of pushing his way then into Richmond, the extraordinary spectacle was presented of both armies in full retreat, one from defeat, and the other from one of the most decisive, and, if taken advantage of, might have been the most important victories of the war. Nothing occurred during the whole war so much to give new life, spirit, energy, and courage to the Confederate army and people as this untoward retreat of M‘Clellan from the Peninsula, and they at once conceived the idea of marching upon the capital at Washington, which movement was deserted, and resulted in a movement on Maryland, and the battle of Antietam.
The Secretary of War, at the close of the interview heretofore referred to, handed me the following order :
" Richmond, April 29, 1562. “Mr. John Minor Botts is permitted to remain at his own house on parole until notified by the War Department that he must withdraw in compliance with the order already given.
“(Signed) GEORGE W. RANDOLPII, Secretary of War.”
Under this order I was confined to my own premises for the next four months, when one of my friends, a Confederate officer, remonstrated with the Secretary against this continued imprisonment, and he was authorized to say to me that, continuing under my parole, I need no longer consider myself circumscribed in my walks. .
My situation was most unpleasant and painful. I was looked upon by the government and general community with suspicion and distrust, while I looked upon them with any thing but confidence or respect. They hated me, I despised them, as a political body. They regarded me as treacherous to the South, I held them as madmen, false to the nation, false to the Constitution, false to their obligations of duty, and especially false and faithless (in fact, whatever might have been their purpose) to every interest most cherished by the Southern people ; and whether they did me or I did them the greater injustice, a more unprejudiced judgment may now be formed than then.
Under these circumstances I applied for permission to leave the state, which was refused.
After this, I obtained a pass from the Secretary of War to visit the county of Culpepper to purchase the farm on which I am now residing, which I was urged to by the then owner to come up and examine. I purchased in the fall of 1862, and moved to the county on the 8th of January, 1863; but I had hardly gotten comfortably warm in the house before General J. E. B. Stuart came in with his whole cavalry force, took possession of every part of my premises (of 2200 acres), except my house, yard, and garden, turned his horses loose to graze in every field, to the exclusion of my own stock, which was left at the mercy of his highly-incensed command, without any effort or desire' on his part to restrain them. They killed my hogs, drove off portions of my cattle with their own whenever they moved, and stole from me $50,000 worth of horses, at Confederate prices, and in Confederate money. Daily and hourly I was subjected to all sorts of vexatious annoyances. I had neither peace nor rést, day nor night, from the time this cavalry force came upon me until the arrival of the Federal army under General Meade in the month of September, except during the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, from both of which they came immediately back to take care of me.
General Meade moved into Culpepper on the 12th of September, 1863, and General Stuart moved back at double-quick across the Rapidan.
On the 12th of October, just one month after, General Lee took a circuitous route from the south side of the Rapidan, and endeavored to throw himself somewhere in the neighborhood of the old battle-ground of Manassas between Meade and Washington, and thus cut off his supplies, which was frustrated by a rapid movement of the Federal army by rail-. road in the direction of Washington. General Lee was not only disappointed in his contemplated advantage, but being severely handled at Bristoe, fell back to the south side of the Rappahannock, tearing up the rails from Bristoe to the Rappahannock, and quartered his whole army around Brandy Station, where he remained until General Meade could relay the road, which he completed about the 5th, and on the 7th of November he recrossed the Rappahannock, killing quite a number, and capturing many prisoners, both at Rappahannock Bridge and at Kelly's Ford, some few miles below; and taking Lee entirely by surprise, he commenced a rapid and confused retreat at twelve o'clock at night.
The rout of the Federal army at the first battle of Manassas could not have occasioned a much greater panic or greater state of confusion than this sudden and unexpected midnight retreat. Lee's head-quarters were within two miles of the Rappahannock bridge, where Meade was crossing, and when the news came that “the Philistines be upon you," and the orders were issued for an instantaneous retreat, the wildest terror was spread over the various camps extending over the country; and from the time the retreat commenced, cavalry, infantry, artillery, baggagewagons, ordnance stores, commissaries, cattle, and all, in one general confused mass, were pushing across the fields and through the woods, all striking for the one and only great road through Culpepper Court-house, on their way to the south side of the Rapidan; and if General Meade had known the actual condition, and instead of halting at Brandy had kept up a vigorous pursuit, he must have captured or destroyed Lee's whole army before they reached the Rapidan.
Having safely reached the right bank of the Rapidan, Lee went into winter-quarters in one of the strongest positions that could be found in Eastern Virginia, and Meade took up his winter-quarters around and about Brandy; and in this position, with the exception of the Mine Run affair, which occupied about a week, both armies rested until the 3d of May, 1864, when General Grant had assumed the immediate command of the army, and moved off on his brilliant and successful campaign against Richmond, an account of which I leave to others more conversant with the minute particulars. In reference to the incidents of the war, I propose to give such only as came under my own personal observation or knowledge, and are not likely to be given by others.
When General Meade fell back from Culpepper on the 12th of October to prevent the flank movement of General Lee, by which his communication with Washington and his base of supplies would have been cut off, Stuart, with his whole cavalry force, came in to follow up and harass Meade's rear, and he followed them to the Rappahannock, skirmishing as they went. Immediately before my door, they had a very brisk little