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9th Vermont Infantry

Harper's Ferry

Memories of the Ninth Vermont at the
Tragedy of Harper's Ferry, Sept. 15, 1862.


exaltation last when we entered the Confederate capital in triumph April 3, 1865, a truly realistic Per Aspera ad Astra of war service.

The third of April, 1865, was a glorious compensation for the bitterness of the fifteenth day of September, 1862.

It is impossible within the limits of time usually allowed to a paper before this Commandery to adequately describe this disaster, because of its important bearing upon the whole Antietam campaign. Lee's action in scattering his army over a wide extent, in calm disdain of McClellan's alleged pursuit, his reconcentration behind the Antietam, the great results which might have been, are all essential parts of this story and need to be fully woven into it.

The man who stood unfortunately as a pivot around which both armies manoeuvred, and, with what should have been great good luck for him, held their fate in his hands; the man who might have become one of the great heroes of the war, by a dogged defence of Harper's Ferry from Maryland Heights, and compassed Lee's destruction and perhaps ended the war, was the imbecile Col. D. H. Miles, a veteran of forty years' service in the United States Army, once found guilty, by a court-martial of officers of the Regular Army, of drunkenness in command of a brigade at the first Bull Run.

The second figure was the ever-doubting, ever-dilatory, ever-timid, McClellan, who with the famous lost order No. 191 of Lee in his pocket, giving in detail Lee's plan for the dispersal of his army in McClellan's immediate front, broke his promise to relieve us on the 14th, although knowing our ammunition would be exhausted and our rations gone by the 15th, and on the Antietam sat with murderous courtesy through the 16th, before Lee with only part of Longstreet's and D. H. Hill's troops well whipped already at South Mountain, allowing Lee to reconcentrate for the bloody grapple of the 17th, and on the 18th allowed the Army of Northern Virginia, stunned and exhausted with loss of blood, to stagger out of the arena and escape.

On the 16th, Lee was a surely the easy game of

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