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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.


"The commission has freely remarked upon the conduct of Colonel Miles, an old officer, killed in one of the battles of our country, and it cannot, from any motive of delicacy, refrain from censuring those in high command when it thinks such censure deserved. The General-in-Chief had testified that General McClellan, after having received orders to repel the invaders from Maryland, marched only six miles per day, upon an average, pursuing the invading enemy. The General-in-Chief also testified that General McClellan could and should have relieved and protected Harper's Ferry, and in this opinion the commission fully concur. Had the Garrison been slower to surrender, or the Army of the Potomac swifter to march, the enemy would have been forced to raise the siege or been taken in detail with the Potomac dividing his forces."

We could not have gained any time, for Franklin that morning at daylight had looked down on McLaws's thin line across Pleasant Valley and with Smith decided not to attack. There was no use in waiting for Franklin who had twice refused to attack. In fifteen minutes more A. P. Hill's and Lawton's overpowering forces would have swept over us easily, we having no works to defend, and the result would have been virtually immediate. Pender says he was within one hundred and fifty yards when the white flag went up.

We always thought Franklin should have been added to this list for censure, for had he "Joined the utmost activity of that grand old 6th Corps and Couch's division to all his own intellect," as he was ordered Saturday night by McClellan, we should have been shaking hands with the Army of the Potomac on Sunday night. General Julius White was most justly complimented by the commission for his self-sacrificing patriotism and ability shown through the siege and Colonel George J. Stannard was promoted to be a brigadier-general while yet a paroled prisoner.

Now, Mr. Commander, you will perceive in this paper a fuller reply to a question you asked me many years ago, "Why could you not have put up a pretty stiff fight with the Johnnies?" I replied then "because we were not allowed." Twelve thousand good soldiers and true may

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