previous next

[611] egress from the place coming east, was now completely commanded.

Up to this time, I had received no notice of the advance of either General Jackson or General Walker, except that a courier from General Jackson brought a despatch from him to the effect that he hoped his leading division would be near Harper's Ferry about two o'clock on this day, and some firing in that direction led to the belief that he was advancing.

During the day, heavy cannonading was heard to the east and north-east, and the cavalry scouts were constantly reporting the advance of the enemy from various directions; but the truth of these reports was questionable, as the lookout from the mountains saw nothing to confirm them.

The morning of the fourteenth was employed in cutting a road to the top of Maryland Heights, practicable for artillery. Major McLaws, of my staff, had examined the ground, and, reporting a road practicable, was directed to make one, and by two o'clock P. M., Captain Read and Captain Carleton, under the direction of Major Hamilton, chief of artillery, had two pieces from each of their batteries in position, overlooking Bolivar Heights and the town. Fire was opened at once, driving the enemy from their works on the right of Bolivar Heights, and throwing shells into the town.

In the mean while, General Walker, who had informed me of his arrival, after dark, on the thirteenth instant, had opened fire from Loudon Heights, and General Jackson's batteries were playing from several points.

Hearing of an advance of the enemy toward the gap, over which the command had passed into Pleasant Valley, I had, about twelve o'clock, ordered General Cobb to return with his brigade to the camp, near the point where the road came into the valley, and directed General Semmes to withdraw the brigade from Solomon's Gap, leaving a mere guard, and to tell General Cobb, on his arrival in the vicinity, to take command of Crampton's Gap. The gap was over five miles from the positions of my main force. I was on Maryland Heights, directing and observing the fire of our guns, when I heard cannonading in the direction of Crampton's Gap; but I felt no particular concern about it, as there were three brigades of infantry in the vicinity, besides the cavalry of Colonel Munford; and General Stuart, who was with me on the heights, and had just come in from above, told me he did not believe there was more than a brigade of the enemy. I, however, sent ny Adjutant-General to General Cobb, as also Major Goggin of my staff, with directions to hold the gap if he lost his last man in doing it, and shortly afterward went down the mountain and started toward the gap. On my way, with General Stuart, I met my Adjutant-General returning, who informed me that the enemy had forced the gap, and that reinforcements were needed by General Cobb. I at once ordered up Wilcox's brigade, commanded by Colonel Alfred Cumming, of the Tenth Georgia regiment, who had been detached from General Semmes's brigade for that purpose, and rode toward the gap. Fortunately, night came on, and allowed a new arrangement of the troops to be made to meet the changed aspect of affairs.

The brigades of Generals Kershaw and Barksdale, excepting one regiment of the latter and two pieces of artillery, were withdrawn from the heights, leaving the regiment and two rifle pieces on the main heights overlooking the town, and formed line of battle across the valley, about one and a half miles below Crampton's Gap, with the remnant of the brigades of Generals Cobb, Semmes, and Mahone, and that of Wilcox, Kershaw, and Barksdale, which was placed specially under command of General Anderson. Generals Wright and Pryor were kept in position guarding the Weverton Pass, and Generals Armistead and Featherston that from Harper's Ferry. That place was not yet taken, and I had but to wait and watch the movements of the enemy.

It was necessary to guard their positions--first, to present a front against the enemy advancing down the valley; second, to prevent them from escaping from Harper's Ferry, and acting in conjunction with their troops in front; third, to prevent an entrance at Weverton Pass.

The force of the enemy engaged and in reserve at Crampton's Gap was estimated to be from fifteen to twenty-five thousand and upward.

The loss in those brigades engaged was, in killed, wounded, and missing, very large, and the remnant collected to make front across the valley was very small.

I had despatched Lieutenant Tucker, my Aidde-camp, with a courier and guide, to report to General Lee the condition of affairs; but, on getting beyond our forces, he rode suddenly on a strong picket of the enemy, was halted and fired on by them as he turned and dashed back. The courier was killed, but Lieutenant Tucker and the guide escaped. General Stuart had, however, started couriers before that, and sent others from time to time during the night, and I, therefore, was satisfied that General Lee would be informed before morning. The fifteenth, the enemy did not advance, nor did they offer any opposition to the troops taking position across the valley. The line to oppose them from that direction was therefore formed, and the artillery posted to the best advantage. Our artillery on Maryland Heights fired on the enemy below so soon as light permitted. About ten o'clock A. M., it was telegraphed to me from Maryland Heights that the enemy at Harper's Ferry had hoisted a white flag and had ceased firing. I at once ordered the troops which were defending the pass from Harper's Ferry to advance their skirmishers along the road to the bridge, or until they were fired on, and directed all the trains to be sent towards the Ferry, still keeping the line of battle opposed to that of the enemy above. They, in the meantime, were planting batteries on the Blue Ridge to operate against the artillery on the left of the valley, looking north, which had been advantageously placed in position by my Chief of Artillery,

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
13th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: