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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.


river, day by day, we could see the long columns of dust of the hostile army moving between us and Washington, or turning westward could see the beleaguering camp-fires stretching in a semicircle from the Shenandoah to the Potomac. And still we sat with folded arms, as though paralyzed.

Without, all was aggressive, relentless war; within, all was idiotic lethargy.

From Martinsburg on Thursday, the 11th, General Julius White had come with a brigade of raw regiments carefully herded into the corral by Stonewall Jackson, who promptly put the bars up on the western side and put them in the keeping of A. P. Hill, Ewell, and Lawton. White's brigade went into bivouac on the plateau stretching from the Charles Town Pike down to the bluff which drops off to the Shenandoah. On this day the anxious suspense was at last broken by the opening guns of Anderson's and McLaws's divisions attacking Maryland Heights, shelling out a cavalry picket at Solomon's Gap five miles away on the extension of the Heights to the north. They had grossly violated Miles's confidence by attacking from a direction unauthorized by precedent. Again he was implored to throw everything across, but he only yielded so far as to reinforce with two raw regiments which had never heard a hostile shot, commanded by singularly inexperienced and incapable officers, the whole under the command of Tom Ford, Colonel of the 32d Ohio, in whom no one had confidence. Easily disposing of the cavalry picket, the enemy quickly appeared before the slight defences held by our infantry. As we lay down in the basin below, we watched the lines of thin, blue smoke rise out of the tree-tops from the Rebel line of battle, now advancing, now hesitating, and now advancing again along its steep and woody slope. Those divisions were the first of the three attacking columns sent by Lee to surround us, that made its presence felt. On Thursday it was light skirmishing; but on Friday more serious effort. On Saturday forenoon Major Stowell of our regiment, a veteran and able officer, fresh from the old Vermont Brigade and "the

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