Site Logo

9th Vermont Infantry

Harper's Ferry

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


This Colonel was a gallant and able West Point officer who, after his exchange, led he same regiment, no longer raw, in the Army of the Potomac, and at its head, on the second day of Gettysburg, met a heroic death, and the regiment wiped out the stain of Harper's Ferry from its colors. I only mention this incident to illustrate the kind of raw troops on which the defence had mainly to depend.

It was the same on Maryland Heights. One of the witnesses before the commission testified:

"There were on Maryland Heights two of these raw regiments who would run if a gun went off by accident. They would run like wild asses, and were as impossible to catch and bring back."

These were so much the large part of the force there that no line could be established and held by the minority of veteran troops mixed with them. I do not know that it was to our credit, perhaps, that the 9th Vermont did not run too; but I think the old 1st Division, 18th Army Corps men will understand me when I explain it by confessing that we were as afraid of Stannard, our Colonel, as of the enemy. It is true that twelve thousand men were sacrificed at Harper's Ferry, but only about five thousand of them were soldiers. General White in his testimony said:

"No one had as yet stated how a garrison of mostly raw recruits, under fire for the first time, could have successfully defended an area of three square miles, assailed from all sides by seasoned veterans three times their number posted with a powerful artillery commanding the whole field."

The Rebel force consisted of:

?table align="center" width="100%"> A. P. Hill on their right with his Light Division 6 Brig. Of 27 Reg'ts Lawton on their left had Ewell's old division 4    "    "   23   " Walker on Loudon Heights had 2    "    "     1   " McLaws's division on Maryland Heights and in Pleasant valley had
4    "    "    16    "

?table> Next PageIntroduction