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[329] their resistance for at least a portion of the following morning, and might thus have secured their deliverance at the cost of some sacrifice. But an invincible enemy was in their ranks. Disorder and discouragement deprived the commanders of all presence of mind, and their still numerous troops of all energy. They were conquered before they had fought. During the evening Walker had succeeded in planting his batteries on Loudon Heights, and as soon as daylight appeared he opened, simultaneously with McLaws, a plunging fire upon Harper's Ferry, the amphitheatre of which seemed to have been arranged expressly to serve as a target. Jackson on his side cannonaded the Federal batteries from Bolivar Heights. This was enough to put an end to a contest so feebly sustained. The bombardment had not lasted one hour when Miles called his corps commanders together, and announced to them his determination to capitulate. Every one assented. The situation, however, was so far from being desperate that the evening previous all the Federal cavalry had been able quietly to leave the place by the left bank of the river. Passing between McLaws and the rest of the Confederate army, it had reached Pennsylvania, and had even captured a convoy of Longstreet's corps on the way. If the eleven thousand five hundred men who were yet at Harper's Ferry after the cavalry had left had followed the same road, McLaws could not have barred their passage, and they would not have had to go far to effect a junction with Franklin. The latter, in fact, was only separated from them by four or five kilometres, and he did not cease firing alarm-guns to announce his approach.

But the distant echo of this friendly voice was unheard amid the thunder of the Confederate artillery, whose fire was becoming more and more vigorous, in order to hasten the capitulation of Harper's Ferry before the arrival of the reinforcements which were known to be at hand. It was one of those questions of a few hours—minutes, even—upon which at times hangs the issue of the most important events. If Miles had complied with the promise he had made to McClellan on the evening of the 13th—if, as the latter had requested him through an officer who had crossed the enemy's lines, he had held his ground till the evening of the 15th— he would have seen Franklin's heads of column appear on Maryland

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