Colonel Dixon S. Miles was commanding our forces at Harper's Ferry. He was obliged to surrender. At the time the white flag went up Colonel George J. Stannard with his regiment, the Ninth Vermont, was on Bolivar Heights. Seeing the flag, Stannard was deeply chagrined and tried for two hours to get back and break through the cordon of hostile troops formed around our unfortunate garrison. In his last effort he moved down to the lower road, which runs parallel to the Shenandoah River, and was headed for the pontoon bridge that crosses the Potomac from the village of Harper's Ferry. At the foot of this rocky road Stannard called for forty volunteers as a “forlorn hope.” He put himself at its head and started, expecting the regiment to follow, rapidly toward the bridge. But halfway down he met the head of A. P. Hill's corps. Instantly we saw two of Hill's aids confronting Colonel Stannard. Though firm, they were gentle in their manner and informed the colonel that the garrison had surrendered, and insisted that he take his regiment at once to the camping ground and stack arms. This occurred two hours after the other troops  had given up. Being near him, I looked up and saw that Stannard's face was covered with tears, and I was sure that he was still meditating some way to keep his regiment from marching back to that hill. He began to retire, but his movements were slow and evidently reluctant. One Confederate officer told Stannard that if he did not hasten his march they would not dilly-dally with him longer, but would fire grape and canister into the command. While the regiment was ascending the rocky road the men were breaking up their muskets and the drummers throwing their drums into the deep gorge below; officers were also breaking their swords and colorbearers destroying their flags. When at last the regiment arrived we were ordered to stack arms; the Confederates laughed at our attempts, and while they were evidently angry to see the muskets so injured they cheered Colonel Stannard and his soldiers for their bravery. The next step was for Colonel Stannard to sign the parole for all his men not to take up arms again until regularly exchanged. The colonel on the spot declined to do this, stating that he would give his own parole, but could not be responsible for the men in his regiment. He created delay by one contrivance and another till late in the afternoon, hoping that relief would come from McClellan. At last General Hill told Stannard that if he did not sign at once the men of his regiment would be marched to Richmond and held as prisoners of war. After that threat Colonel Stannard signed the parole.
General Stannard assaulted and took Fort Harrison with his division. The fort was located on the north side of the James River, near Chapin's Bluff, four miles from Richmond. At noon on September 30th, General Lee tried to recapture Fort Harrison; his attacking column, some 7,000 strong, was formed in three successive lines. The Confederates made three different attacks within an hour, and did not withdraw till after at least 2,000 were killed and wounded. Those who survived from the first Confederate line came into Fort Harrison, and one of the first arrivals was the colonel of an Alabama regiment, who, with blood streaming down his face, looked up at General Stannard and said: “You had better come out of this fort, for General Lee himself is over there” (pointing to the Confederate works), “and he says he will retake this fort” (Harrison) “if it takes half of his army.” Stannard's reply was: “I shall be happy to see General Lee whenever he chooses to call.” During this short but terrific engagement Stannard stood, walked, or ran around the top of the parapet, hat in one hand and sword in the other, encouraging by voice and motions the men of liis division. He was seen not only by men of the Union army, not far away, but by the Confederates. Within Fort Harrison were log cabins used during their occupation by the Confederates as quarters. These cabins took fire, and between the excessive heat of the burning buildings and the severe fighting the men of Stannard's division were in a most hazardous  position. There was great danger of their being prevented in their defense by the hot fire from the buildings. The wounded and hospital men, however, tore down the cabins and extinguished the fires. At the close of the engagement proper the sharpshooters on both sides for a time continued their carnival; then it was that General Stannard was shot in his right arm, which was afterwards amputated. His heroic gallantry and superb fighting enabled the Union troops to hold this most important fortification, and for that action he received the brevet of Major General of Volunteers. Stannard, with the Second Vermont Brigade, at Gettysburg, as everybody knows, did heroic work and helped largely to change a doubtful battle into victory. He was a hard fighter and a manly man, with noblest instincts.
General Hooker's Congratulatory order: General orders, no. 47.
Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Camp near Falmouth, Virginia, April 30, 1863.It is with heartfelt satisfaction the Commanding General announces to the Army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must either ingloriously fly, or come out from behind his defenses and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him. The operations of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps have been a succession of splendid achievements. By command of Major General Hooker:
S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant General.