for its evacuation was received about the time the position was abandoned.It is evident from General Lee's letters,1 of June 1st and 7th, that mine of May 26th and 28th, and June 6th, expressed opinions decidedly unfavorable to Harper's Ferry as a military position, and proposed its evacuation. General Smith's testimony is direct and positive to the same effect; and the extract above, from my official report of the events in question, is conclusive as to the opinion of the intrinsic strength and strategical value of Harper's Ferry that I expressed to the Administration. And all combine with the narrative, from page 6 to page 16, to prove that, from the first, my language and conduct were consistent, and that I abandoned the place from no sudden change of opinion, but in conformity with that officially expressed in the first two days of my command, and reiterated. The movement to Winchester was indispensable, and so regarded by the President himself. For, in the first passage quoted from General Cooper's letter2 of June 13th, he authorized it, as well as the evacuation of Harper's Ferry. That authority had been anticipated, however. But for that movement, the battle of Manassas would have been lost; for, if our troops had escaped capture in Harper's Ferry, they could not have reached that field from it, in time to take part in the action. The place was not fortified, unless mounting two heavy naval guns in battery on Furnace Ridge made it so. No valuable machinery was left there. Even wood for gunstocks3 was brought away.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.