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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.


seven days' fight," and I lay on the grass on the slope of Bolivar Heights, one half of the regiment being in camp, off duty. With intense indignation and dread foreboding we saw our troops stampeding from the Heights, giving up the key to our position to the enemy after a most puerile resistance. Colonel Thomas ford, of the 32d Ohio, was responsible for the disgraceful act, but claimed that he received orders form Colonel Miles to give it up, and throw his guns down the mountain. The evidence before the Court of Inquiry demanded by General White to determine his and the Brigade Commander's responsibility for the surrender of Harper's Ferry was confusing and contradictory. Miles's orders, by the evidence of many officers, were proved to be incoherent and inconsistent, frequently annulled verbally as soon as despatched. But For proved himself both stupidly ignorant of his duties and cowardly, and the court recommended his dismissal from the Army.

Ford's force had hardly crossed the pontoon bridge before D'Utassy, colonel of the 39th New York (the old Garibaldi Guards), from the right, and Stannard, colonel of the 9th Vermont, from the extreme left, hurried to Miles and begged permission to retake the Heights. Stannard's words were, in the presence of a group of officers: "Let me go and retake them, and I will guarantee to hold them; I do not ask you to send any other Regiment, though I should be glad to have some of these gentlemen go with me; only give me some guns, and we will answer to you for the Heights." But Miles stupidly insisted it was too late, and had at one time even ordered the destruction of the pontoon, which if done, would have been the only creditable thing done by him. Twenty-four hours after this the enemy had done so little to follow up their success, that D'Utassy sent Adjutant Chas. G. Bacon, of the 39th New York, with four companies to the mountain and brought off four guns, four caissons, one limber, and a large quantity of much needed powder which Ford in his haste did not wait to destroy. That night one hundred pairs of the drawers of the 115th New York were cut up and made into cartridge bags for this

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