The fight at Harper's Ferry.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., October 19th, 1861.
The anniversary of the attack on Harper's Ferry
, by old Ossawattomic Brown
, which may be said to be the beginning of this terrible war, in which we are now engaged, was celebrated on Tuesday last (the 16th) by a very spirited fight, between Col. Ash
by and those under his command, numbering about 500, and a body of Federalists, supposed to be 1,000 strong.
As I told you in a former letter, the enemy had taken possession of a hill two miles this side of the Ferry
, upon which they had erected fortifications.
by having received information, through a courier, that a considerable force, with several pieces of cannon, would march from Leesburg
and take possession of the Loudoun heights
, in order to assist him in driving the enemy from their stronghold, made preparations to commence the attack on this side of the town.
These intentions becoming generally known, every one was on the qui
and between seven and eight o'clock on Tuesday morning, a rapid discharge of musketry and the deep booming sound of the cannon, told that the fight bad begun.
The road leading from this place to the scene of conflict was lined with strong men, wending their way to the nearest point of view consistent with safety.
Had they been patriotic and courageous enough to have taken their guns, pistols, pitchforks, or any other death-dealing implement they could find, they might have rendered most efficient service, and by their presence and co-operation, inspired our military with fresh courage; but, being mere curious spectators, they were very serious obstacles in the way of those actually engaged in the conflict, for when the balls fell thick and fast around them, they scampered off without regard to consequences, which might have been very disastrous, as their stampede had the effect of starting the militia, and it was with difficulty that their commander could rally them again.
However he did succeed in doing it, and they fought well, and drove the enemy from their position upon which our cannon was then planted, consisting of one twenty-four and one six-pounder.
Our guns from the Virginia mountain
then opened fire in order to drive the Yankees
from the houses in which they had taken refuge.
Some of these shot took fatal effect, others fell short; but it drew upon them the fire of a concealed battery, the Federalists had on the Maryland heights
, and their guns being managed by accomplished artillerists, soon obliged our men to fall back, and in so doing one of their principal guns broke down, rendering it entirely useless.
On the other side of the village the fight was very desperate and again we had the misfortune to lose the use of our largest cannon by its breaking down.
These two casualties lost us the victory; for our men were obliged to retreat, leaving the hill and one twenty-four-pounder in the hands of the enemy.
It is greatly to be regretted that we had not force enough to pursue the advantages we first gained; but our object has been accomplished, for the Federalists have evacuated the Ferry
, and returned to their encampment on the other side of the river.
I will leave a more military description of this fight to be given by those more competent than I am, being a lady.
I, of course, was not present, and only give the facts as I heard them from others; and as each gave a different version of the affair, it was with difficulty that I was enabled to get as near the truth as I think I have done.
We had one man killed and nine wounded All of the latter, including one Yankee, were brought to this place, where they are being kindly cared for, and every effort made to alleviate their sufferings.
The loss of the Federalists it is impossible to estimate accurately, but we hear it was heavy.
The Rev. Green North
is a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.
His non-appearance on the evening of the fight and the return of his horse badly wounded, caused his friends great anxiety, and early the following morning a flag of truce was sent over the river, when it was ascertained that he was a prisoner, but unhurt.
He is a true-hearted Southerner and will not conceal his sentiments even to procure his release; but I hope that after examining his case, and finding him a non-combatant, they will have the magnanimity to release him without insulting him by requiring him to take the oath of allegiance.
There is one who was engaged in this fight and was desperately wounded, who deserves special mention.
John. T. Beale
, a member of Captain E. L. Moore
's company, from this place, has been faithfully serving his country ever since the beginning of the war, and had returned the evening before on a visit to his home for the purpose of recruiting his health; but hearing of the movement contemplated, he unhesitatingly offered his services, and was, by one of those mysterious acts of Providence
, cut down in the midst of his usefulness.
We sincerely trust that his wound will not prove fatal.
Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon our officers and men, and in the name of the ladies I return them thanks for the noble manner in which they have sustained the honor of the service, and for the energy and determination they have shown in our defence.
The fate of Harper's Ferry
is sealed, and before many days it will be a heap of smouldering ruins, and there will be very few in this county who will not rejoice over its destruction.
A Jefferson Lady