9th Vermont Infantry
Harper's FerryMemories of the Ninth Vermont at the
Tragedy of Harper's Ferry, Sept. 15, 1862.
he advised General Halleck to order Miles to give it up, and join him, and General Halleck refused, saying it was too late, and Miles must stay and fight. Such is history. The bulk of the testimony was that the command could have escaped as well as the cavalry, though, of course, there would have been a great percentage of the sick and weak that would have been picked up by the enemy. I do not believe it could have followed the cavalry through Longstreet's and D. H. Hill's camps, as the cavalry moved all night on the trot. If at all possible it would have been by swinging the pontoon across the Shenandoah after the cavalry had gone and making a forced march down the west side of the Potomac, brushing aside the force stationed by Walker at the river end of Loudon Heights.
The Rebel General Walker said:
"I am of the opinion that it would have been possible and practicable for Colonel Miles to have escaped with the infantry during the night of the 14th and 15th as the cavalry did,"
but he does not say how.
At last morning broke. Heavy fogs filled the basin. But they quickly rose and stood along the mountain side, like huge drop curtains, ready to lift upon the tragedy to be enacted. They enveloped the crest of Maryland and Loudon, but brought into view the dreaded sight of the new batteries in the corn-field across the river in our rear. Quoting General Walker again, he says:
"During the night of the 14th, Major R. Lindsay Walker, Chief of Artillery to A. P. Hill's division, succeeded in crossing the Shenandoah with several batteries and placing them in such a position on the slop of Loudon Mountain far below me as to command the rear of the enemy's line. McLaws got his batteries into position nearer the enemy, and at daybreak of the 15th the batteries of our five divisions were pouring their fire upon the doomed garrison. The Federal batteries promptly replied, and for more than an hour maintained a spirited fire, but after that it grew more and more feeble until, after eight o'clock, it ceased altogether, and the garrison surrendered."