previous next

[612] Major Hamilton, along the line formed across the valley.

My Aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Tucker, had been sent to communicate with General Jackson, in Harper's Ferry, and he, returning, reported that General Jackson wished to see me. The enemy showing no disposition to advance, I left the command to General Anderson, with directions to push the trains across the river as far as possible, and follow with the infantry when the trains were well over. I then rode over, and received orders to proceed to Sharpsburg, with all possible despatch. I returned to Pleasant Valley, and, as the troops had been gradually withdrawn, I formed a new line across at the foot of the valley, still holding Maryland Heights and Weverton Pass, and waited until near two o'clock, when, the trains having passed over the river, the troops were withdrawn to the right bank, and, marching through Harper's Ferry, camped near Halltown, four miles distant, about eight o'clock on the sixteenth instant. The troops that were engaged in the attack and capture of Maryland Heights are entitled to especial commendation, as they were laboriously employed for two days and one night along the summit of Elk Ridge, constantly working their way under fire during the day, and at night resting in position, all this time without water, as none could be obtained but from the valley beneath, one mile down the mountain, and at the close of the contest there was not a straggler from the two brigades.

General Kershaw, who had special command of this force, acted in this instance, as he has in all others when under my command, with great skill, coolness, and daring, and is deserving of special praise. I refer you to his report for other particulars of the engagement, and for the operations of the brigade of General Barksdale, which accompanied him and materially assisted in the capture of the place.

Seeing that the canal was full of water about Weverton, I directed General Pryor, if tools could be obtained, to cut the canal just above a culvert near the place, which he did, and thinks the canal was materially damaged. He also broke the canal lock.

The enemy having forced Crampton's Gap, thereby completely cutting off my route up the valley to join the forces with General Lee,--as Solomon's Gap, the only road over Elk Ridge, was just in front of the one over the Blue Ridge, occupied by the enemy,--I had nothing to do but to defend my position. I could not retire under the bluffs along the river, with the enemy pressing my rear and the forces at Harper's Ferry operating in conjunction, unless under a combination of circumstances I could not rely on to happen at the exact time needed. I could not pass over the mountain, except in a scattered and disorganized condition. Nor could I have gone through the Weverton Pass into the open country beyond, to cross a doubtful ford, when the enemy was in force on the other side of the Blue Ridge, and coming down in my rear. There was no outlet in any direction for anything but the troops, and that very doubtful. In no contingency could I have saved the trains and artillery. I therefore determined to defend myself in the valley, holding the two heights and the two lower passes, in order to force a direct advance down the valley, to prevent cooperation from Harper's Ferry, and at the same time to carry out my orders in relation to the capture of that place.

I received several communications from your headquarters in relation to my position, which were obeyed, so far as circumstances permitted, and I acted, in departing from them, as I believed the commanding General would have ordered had he known the circumstances. The force in Harper's Ferry was nearly, if not quite, equal to my own, and that above was far superior.

No attempt was made to cooperate from Harper's Ferry with the force above, and the force above did not press down upon me, because, I believe, General Lee offered battle at Sharpsburg. The early surrender of Harper's Ferry relieved me from the situation, and my command joined the main army at Sharpsburg on the morning of the seventeenth September.

My special thanks are due to General Anderson, whose division was under my command, for his advice and assistance, and the cordial cooperation of all in generally performing their whole duties.

The operations at Crampton's Gap I give in a separate paper.

To the members of my staff, Major McIntosh, A. A. G.; Major Goggin; Major McLaws; Major Edwards, A. C. S.; chief surgeon of division, Surgeon Gilmore; Captain King, who accompanied General Kershaw during the whole of his operations on the heights; Captain Costin; Lieutenant Tucker, A. D. C.; Captain Taliaferro and Lieutenant Edwards, ordnance officers, I am indebted for their aid and active assistance. Captain Manning, who had charge of the signal corps, being unable to attend to his duties, from a sudden attack of erysipelas in the head, Captain Costin took charge of the party, and it rendered very great service during the three days it was required. Lieutenant Campbell, of the engineers, also distinguished himself for his activity in reconnoitring the position of the enemy.

Very respectfully,

L. Mclaws, Major-General.

Headquarters division, October 21, 1862.
Colonel R. H. Chilton, A. A. G.:
I enclose herewith a report of the operations of my command in Pleasant Valley, Maryland. There are particular reasons why I should make a special report of the engagement at Crampton's Gap, to do which, however, it is necessary to obtain reports from Colonel Munford, who was first in command, and from Colonel Parham, Mahone's brigade, who came next after, and made the dispositions previous to the arrival of General Cobb.

Very respectfully,

L. McLaws, Major-General


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.
October 21st, 1862 AD (1)
September 17th (1)
16th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: