omon s Gap were driven in by the enemy. Col.
Ford called upon Col. Miles for reinforcements.
The One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New-York
and the Thirty -ninth New -York (Garibaldi
REBELLION RECORD, 1862,
Guards) were sent him on Friday, the twelfth of
September, and on the morning of the thirteenth
he was further reenforccd by the One Hundred
and Fifteenth New- York, and a portion of a Mary
land regiment under Lieut. -Col. Downey.
Col. Ford made requisition for axes and spades
to enable him to construct defences on the
Heights, but obtained none. With ten axes
belonging to some Maryland troops, hiring all
that could be obtained, a slight breastwork of
trees was constructed on the twelfth, near the
crest of the Heights, and a slashing of timber
made for a short distance in front of the breast
The forces under Col. Ford were stationed at
various points on the Maryland Heights, the
principal force being on the crest of the hill near
the breastwork and look-out.
Skirmishing commenced on Friday, the twelfth,
on the crest of the hill. Early on the morning
of the thirteenth the enemy made an attack on
the crest of the hill, and after some time the
troops retired in some confusion to the breast
work, where they were rallied. About nine
o clock a second attack was made, which the
troops behind the breastwork resisted for a short
time, and until Col. Sherrill, of the One Hundred
and Twenty-sixth New-York, was wounded and
carried off the field, when the entire One Hun
dred and Twenty-sixth regiment, as some wit
nesses testify, all but two companies, Major
Hewitt states, broke and fled in utter confusion.
Men and most of the officers all fled together, no
effort being made to rally the regiment, except
by Col Ford, Lieut. Barras, Acting-Adjutant,
and some officers of other regiments, directed
by Col. Miles, then on the Heights.
Soon after the remaining forces at the breast
work fell back, under a supposed order from
Major Hewitt, who himself says that he gave no
such order, merely sent instructions to the cap
tains of his own regiment that if they were com
pelled to retire to do so in good order. Orders
were given by Col. Ford for the troops to return
to their position. They advanced some distance
up the Heights, but did not regain the breast
That evening Colonel Miles was on Maryland
Heights for some hours consulting with Colonel
Ford. He left between eleven and twelve o clock,
without directly ordering Col. Ford to evacuate
the Heights, but instructing him, in case he was
compelled to do so, to spike the guns and throw
the heavy siege-guns down the mountain.
About two o clock, perhaps a little later, by
the order of Col. Ford, the Heights were aban
doned, the guns being spiked according to in
On Sunday, Col. D Utassy sent over to Mary
land Heights four companies under Major Wood,
who brought off, without opposition, four brass
twelve-pounders, two of which were imperfectly
spiked, and a wagon-load of ammunition.
Gen. W r hite, on his return to Harper s Ferry,
on the twelfth of September, suggested to Col.
Miles the propriety of contracting his lines on
Bolivar Heights so as to make a better defence,
but Col. Miles adhered to his original line of de
fence, stating that he was determined to make
his stand on Bolivar Heights. General White
also urged the importance of holding Mary hind
Heights, even should it require the taking the
entire force over there from Harper s Ferry.
Col. Miles, under his orders to hold Harper s
Ferry to the last extremity, while admitting the
importance of Maryland Heights, seemed to re
gard them as applying to the town of Harper s
Ferry, and held that to leave Harper s Ferry,
even to go on Maryland Heights, would be dis-
obej ing his instructions.
Gen. McClellan established his headquarters at
Frederick City on the morning of the thirteenth
of September. On the night of the thirteenth,
after the evacuation of Maryland Heights, Col.
Miles directed Captain (now Major) Russell, of
the Maryland cavalrv, to take with him a few
men and endeavor to get through the enemy s
lines and reach some of our forces General Mc
Clellan if possible and to report the condition of
Harper s Ferry, that it could not hold out more
than forty-eight hours, unless reenforced, and to
urge the sending of reinforcements. Capt. Rus
sell reached General McClellan s headquarters at
Frederick at nine A.M. on Sunday, the fourteenth
of September, and reported as directed by Colonel
Miles. Immediately upon his arrival Gen. Mc
Clellan sent off a messenger, as Captain Russell
understood, to General Franklin.
At ten A.M. Capt. Russell left for Gen. Frank
lin s command, with a communication to General
Franklin from Gen. McClellan. He reached Gen.
Franklin about three o clock that afternoon, and
found him engaged with the enemy at Crampton s
Gap. The enemy were driven from the Gap, and
the next morning, the fifteenth, Gen. Franklin
passed through the Gap, advancing about a mile,
and finding the enemy drawn up in line of battle
in his front, drew his own forces up in line of
battle. While thus situated, the cannonading in
the direction of Harper s Ferry, which had been
heard veiy distinctly all the morning Harper s
Ferry being about seven miles distant suddenly
ceased, whereupon Gen. Franklin sent word to
Gen. McClellan of the probable surrender of Har
per s Ferry by Colonel Miles, and did not deem it
necessary to proceed further in that direction.
The battle of South-Mountain was fought on
Sunday, the fourteenth.
On the same day, Sunda} -, during the after
noon, the enemy at Harper s Ferry attacked the
extreme left of the line on Bolivar Heights, but
after some time were repulsed by the troops
under command of General W r hite.
Sunday night the cavalry at Harper s Ferry
made their escape, under Colonel Davis of the
Twelfth Illinois cavalry, by permission of Colonel
Miles, and reached Greencastle, Pa., the next
morning, capturing an ammunition-train belong
ing to Gen. Longstreet, consisting of some fifty
or sixty wagons. The Commission regard this
escape of the cavalry, etc.
Several of the infantry officers desired permis-
sion to cat their way out at the same time the
cavalry made their escape, but Col. Miles refused,
upon the ground that he had never been ordered
to hold Harper s Ferry to the last extremity.
On the morning of the fifteenth the enemy
opened their batteries from several points seven
to nine as estimated by different witnesses di
recting their attack principally upon our batteries
on the left of Bolivar Heights. The attack com
menced at daybreak. About seven o clock Col.
Miles represented to Gen. White that it would
be necessary to surrender. Gen. White suggest
ed that the brigade commanders be called to
gether, which was done. Col. Miles stated that
the ammunition for the batteries was exhausted,
and he had about made up his mind to surrender.
That was agreed to by all present, and General
White was sent by Col. Miles to arrange terms.
The white flag was raised by order of Colonel
Miles, but the enemy did not cease fire for some
half or three quarters of an hour after. Colonel
Miles was mortally wounded after the white flag
was raised. The surrender was agreed upon
about eight A.M. on Monday, the fifteenth of
The following was the testimony respectively
of the officers commanding batteries : At the
time of the surrender Capt. Yon Schlen had some
ammunition could not tell what amount, but
mostly shrapnel ; had lost about one hundred
rounds on Saturday, the thirteenth, by the ex
plosion of a limber caused by one of the enemy s
shells. Captain Rigby had expended during the
siege of Harper s Ferry about six hundred rounds,
with the exception of canister ; had nothing but
canister left. Captain Potts had expended about
one thousand rounds, with the exception of can
ister ; had only canister left. Capt. Graham had
but two guns of his battery under his immediate
command on the morning of the surrender ; had
probably one hundred rounds of all kinds, but no
long-time fuses. Capt. Phillips had expended all
his ammunition except some forty rounds of can
ister and some long-range shell too large for his
guns. Capt. McGrath s battery had been spiked
and left on Maryland Heights on Saturday.
It appears that during the siege, and shortly
previous, Col. Miles paroled several confederate
prisoners, permitting them to pass through our
lines. During the week previous to the evacua
tion of Maryland Heights, a Lieutenant Rouse, of
the Twelfth Virginia cavalry, who had been en
gaged in a raid upon a train from Harper s Ferry
to Winchester a short time before, was captured
and brought into Harpers Ferry. He escaped
while on the way to the hospital to have his
wounds dressed, but was retaken. lie was
paroled, but returned in command of some rebel
cavalry on the morning of the surrender. The
attention of Gen. A. P. Hill was called to the fact
that Lieut. Rouse was* a paroled prisoner, but no
attention was paid to it. Lieut. Rouse himself,
on being spoken to about it, laughed at the idea
of observing his parole. On Saturday, the day
of the attack upon and evacuation of Maryland
Heights, Col. Miles directed that sixteen confed
erate prisoners be permitted to pass through our
lines to rejoin the rebel army at Winchester.
Other _ cases are testified to, but those are the
BRIGADIER -GENERAL JULIUS WHITE AND COLONELS
D UTASSY AND TRIMBLE.
Of the subordinate officers referred to in this
case, the Commission finds, with the exception
of Col. Thomas II. Ford, nothing in their conduct
that calls for censure. Gen. Julius White merits
its approbation. He appears from the evidence,
to have acted with decided capability and cour
In this connection the Commission calls atten
tion to the disgraceful behavior of the One Hun
dred and Twenty-sixth New-York regiment of
infantry, and recommends that Major Baird
should, for his bad conduct, as shown by this
evidence, be dismissed the service. Some of the
officers, after the w T ounding of the gallant Colonel,
such as Lieut. Barras, and others not known to
the Commission, behaved with gallantry, and
should be commended.
COLONEL THOMAS FORD.
In the case of Col. Ford, charged with impro
per conduct in abandoning the Maryland Heights,
the Commission, after a careful hearing of the
evidence produced by the Government and that
relied on by the defence, and a due consideration
of the arguments offered by counsel, find :
That on the fifth of September Col. Ford was
placed in command of Maryland Heights by Col.
Miles. That Col. Ford, finding the position un
prepared by fortifications, earnestly urged Col.
Miles to furnish him means by which the Heights
could be made tenable for the small force under
his command should a heavy one be brought
against him. That these reasonable demands
were, for some cause unknown to the Commission,
not responded to by the officer in command of
Harper s Ferry. That subsequently, when the
enemy appeared in heavy force, Colonel Ford fre
quently and earnestly called upon Col. Miles for
more troops, representing that he could not hold
the Heights unless reenforced. That these de
mands were feebly or not at all complied with.
That as late as the morning of the thirteenth Col.
Ford sent two written demands to Col. Miles for
reinforcements, and saying that with the troops
then under his command he could not hold the
Heights, and, unless relieved or otherwise or
dered, he would have to abandon them. That
as late as eleven o clock A.M. of the thirteenth, a
few hours previous to the abandonment of this
position, Colonel Miles said to Col. Ford that he
(Colonel Ford) could not have another man, and
must do the best he could, and, if unable to de
fend the place, he must spike the guns, throw
them down the hill, and withdraw to Harper 3
Ferry in good order.
The Court is then satisfied that Col. Ford was
given a discretionary power to abandon the
Heights, as his better judgment might dictate ;
and it believes from the evidence, cufcuiustantia*
REBELLION RECORD, 1862.
and direct, that the result did not to any grea
extent surprise nor in any way displease the offi
cer in command at Harper s Feriy. But thi:
conclusion, so much relied upon by the defence
forces the Commission to a consideration of th
fact, Did Colonel Ford, under the discretionary
power thus vested in him, make a proper defenc
of the Heights, and hold them as he should hav
done, until driven off by the enemy ?
The evidence shows conclusively that the force
upon the Heights was not well managed ; that the
point most pressed was weakly defended as t(
numbers, and after the wounding of the colone
of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New-York
infantry, it was left without a competent officei
in command, Col. Ford himself not appearing nor
designating any one who might have restored
order and encouraged the men ; that the aban
donment of the Heights was premature, is clearly
proved. Our forces were not driven from the hill,
us full time was given to spike the guns and throw
the heavier ones down the cliff, and retreat in good
order to Harper s Ferry. The next day a force
returning to the Heights found them unoccupied,
and brought away unmolested four abandoned
guns and a quantity of ammunition.
In so grave a case as this, with such disgrace
ful consequences, the court cannot permit an offi
cer to shield himself behind the fact that he did
as well as he could, if in $o doing he exhibits
a lack of military capacity. It is clear to the
Commission that Col. Ford should not have been
placed in command on Maryland Heights ; that
he conducted the defence without ability, and
abandoned his position without sufficient cause,
and has shown throughout such a lack of mili
tary capacity as to disqualify him, in the opinion
of the commission, for a command in the service.
COLONEL D. S. MILES.
The Commission has approached a considera
tion of this officer s conduct in connection with
the surrender of Harper s Ferry with extreme re
luctance. An officer who cannot appear before
any earthly tribunal to answer or explain charges
gravely affecting his character, who has met his
death at the hands of the enemy, even upon the
spot he disgracefully surrenders, is entitled to the
tenderest care and most careful investigation.
This the Commission has accorded Col. Miles,
and in giving a decision only repeats what runs
through our nine hundred pages of testimony,
strangely unanimous upon the fact that Colonel
Miles s incapacity, amounting to almost imbe
cility, led to the shameful surrender of this im
Early as the fifteenth of August he disobeys
the orders of Major-Gen. Wool to fortify Maryland
Heights. When it is surrounded and attacked
by the enemy, its naturally strong positions are
unimproved, and from his criminal neglect, to
use the mildest term, the large force of the ene
my is almost upon an equality with the small
force under his command, lie seems to have
understood, and admitted to his officers that
Maryland Heights is the key to the position, and
yet he places Col. Ford in command with a feeble
force, makes no effort to strengthen them by for
tifications, although between the fifth and four
teenth of September there Was ample time to do
so ; and to Colonel Ford s repeated demands for
means to intrench and additional reinforcements,
he makes either an inadequate return or no re
sponse at all. He gives Col. Ford a discretionary
power as to when he shall abandon the Heights,
the fact of abandonment having, it seems, been
concluded on in his own mind. For, when this
unhappy event really occurs, his only exclam-
mation was to the effect that he feaied Col. Ford
had given up too soon, although he must have
known that the abandonment of Maryland
Heights was the surrender of Harper s Ferrv.
This leaving the key of the position to the keep
ing of Col. Ford, with discretionary power, after
the arrival of that capable and courageous officer
who had waived his rank to serve wherever or
dered, is one of the more striking facts illustrat
ing the incapacity of Col. Miles.
Immediately previous to and pending the siege
of Harper s Ferry, he paroles rebel prisoners and
permits, indeed sends them to the enemy s head
quarters. This, too, when he should have known
that the lack of ammunition, the bad conduct
of some of our troops, the entire absence of for
tifications, and the abandonment of Maryland
Heights, were important facts they could, and
indoubtedly did communicate to the enemy.
Sixteen of these prisoners were paroled on the
thirteenth, and a pass given them in the hand
writing of Col. Miles, while a rebel officer by the
name of Rouse, after an escape is retaken, and
subsequently has a private interview with Col.
Miles, is paroled, and after the surrender appears
at the head of his men, among the first to enter
Harper s Ferry.
It is not necessary to accumulate evidence from
;he mass that throughout scarcely affords one
kct in contradiction to what each one estab-
ishes, that Col. Miles was incapable of conduct
ng a defence so important as was this of Harper s
The Commission would not have dwelt upon
his painful subject were it not for the fact that
he officer who placed this incapable in command
should share in the responsibilit} , and in the
Dpinion of the Commission Major-Gen. Wool is
guilty to this extent of a grave disaster, and
should be censured for his conduct.
The Commission has remarked freely on Col.
Miles, an old officer who has been killed in the
ervice of his country, and it cannot from any
motive of delicacy, refrain from censuring those
n high command, when it thinks such censure
deserved. The General-in-Chief has testified that
Jen. McClellan, after having received orders to
epel the enemy invading the State of Maryland,
narched only six miles per day, on an average,
v r hen pursuing this invadfng enemy. The Gen-
ral-in-Chief also testifies that in his opinion Gen.
IcClellan could and should have relieved and
protected Harper s Ferry, and in this opinion the
Commission fully concur.
The evidence thus introduced confirms the
Commission in the opinion that Harper s Ferry,
as well as Maryland Heights, was prematurely
surrendered. The garrison should have been
satisfied that relief, however long delayed, would
come at last, and that a thousand men killed in
Harper s Ferry would have made a small loss had
the post been saved, and probably saved two
thousand at Antietam. How important was this
defence we can now appreciate. Of the ninety-
seven thousand men composing at that time the
whole of Lee s army, more than one third were
attacking Harper s Ferry, and of this the main
body was in Virginia. By reference to the evi
dence it will be seen that at the very moment
Col. Ford abandoned Maryland Heights his little
brought before the Commission, they are released
from arrest and w r ill report for duty.
4th. The Military Commission, of which Major-
Gen. Hunter is President, is dissolved.
By order of the Secretary of War.
E. D. TOWNSEND,
GENERAL WOOL S LETTER.
HKADQUARTKRS MIDDLE DEPARTMENT, }
EIGHTH ARMY CORPS, BALTIMORE, November 11, Is62. f
To the Editors of the Baltimore American :
In the report, as published in the newspapers,
of the Commission, consisting of the following
officers, Major-Gen. D. Hunter, United States vol
unteers ; Major-General G. Cadwalader, United
States volunteers ; Brig. -General C. C. Augur,
army was in reality relieved by Generals Franklin i United gtates vo i un teers ; Major Donn Piatt, As-
and Sumner s corps at Crainpton s Gap within j sistant Adjutant-Gen. United States volunteers:
seven miles of his position ; and that after the | Capt F Ball? Aid-de-Camp, United States volun-
surrender of Harper s Ferry no time was given to tecrs ^ and Col j Holtj J u( j gc -Advocate General,
parole prisoners before twenty thousand troops | called by the Government to investigate the con-
were hurried from V irgima, and the entire force j duct of certa i n officers connected with, and the
went off on the double-quick to relieve Lee, who | circumstances attending the abandonment of Ma-
was being attacked at Antietam. Had the garri
son been slower to surrender, or the army of the
Potomac swifter to march, the enemy would have
been forced to raise the siege, or would have been
taken in detail, with the Potomac dividing his
WAR DEPARTMENT ORDER.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL S OFFICE, (^
WASHINGTON, November 8. j
GENERAL ORDER No. 183.
1st. The Military Commission, of which Major-
General David Hunter, United States volunteers,
is President, appointed to meet in the city of
Washington on the twenty -fifth of September,
pursuant to Special Order No. 225, of September
twenty-third, 1802, to investigate the circum
stances of the abandonment of Maryland Heights
and the surrender of Harper s Ferry, have report
ed that Col. Thomas II. Ford, of the Third Ohio
volunteers, conducted the defence of Maryland
Heights without ability, abandoned his position
without sufficient cause, and has shown through
out such a lack of military capacity as to dis
qualify him, in the estimation of the Commission,
for a command in the service. The said Colonel
Thomas II. Ford is, by direction of the Presi
dent, dismissed from the service of the United
2d. The Commission having reported that the
behavior of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth
New-York infantry was disgraceful, and that
Major William II. Baird, for his bad conduct,
ought to be dismissed, the said Major Baird, of
the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New-York
volunteers, is, by direction of the President, dis
missed from the service of the United States.
3d. The Commission having reported that
Brig. -General Julius White, United States volun
teers, acted with decided capability and courage, _ ^
and merits its approbation, and having found statements in regard to the surrender of Harper i
nothing in the conduct of the subordinate officers 1 Ferry, and cannot but feel it my duty to deny
ryland Heights and the surrender of Harper s
Ferry, I find the following remarks applying to
" The Commission would not have dwelt
upon this painful subject were it not for the fact
that the officer who placed this incapable (Col.
Miles) in command, should share in the responsi
bility, and in the opinion of the Commission,
Major-General Wool is guilty to this extent of a
grave disaster, and should be censured for his
If the report of the Commission in relation to
the surrender of Harper s Ferry has no more
truth for its foundation than is contained in the
above paragraph, it can only be regarded as a fic
tion, without a shadow of proof for its foundation.
It is not true that I placed "this incapable
(Col. Miles) in command of Harper s Ferry." He
w^as there in command at the time when I assumed
control of this Department, and had been ordered
to establish his headquarters there, on the twen
ty-ninth of March, by Major-Gen. McClellan, then
General-in-Chief. On the thirtieth of April, the
Secretary of AV r ar sent the following order to Col.
Miles, at Harper s Ferry: "You will please make
daily reports of the state of your command to this
I have not now time to notice further the " cen
sure" of the Commission ; when I am at leisure,
it will receive the attention which it merits.
JOHN E. AYooL,
Major-General United States Army.
CAPTAIN BINNEY S LETTER.
SOMERVILLE, MASS., September 27, 1SC2.
To the Editor of the Boston Journal:
I have noticed with much pain and sorrow the
many reflections and insinuations adverse to the
character of Col. Dixon S. Miles, going the rounds
in the papers, as well as the many ridiculous
REBELLION RECORD, 1S62.
the charges of disloyalty, and give the public a
correct statement in regard to the above-men
tioned lamented affair.
Our first rumors of the enemy s crossing into
Maryland near Nolan d s Ferry, at the mouth of
the Monocacy River, seventeen miles below Har
per s Ferry, was received on September first, from
our pickets at that point who were driven in to
Point of Rocks. Reinforcements were immedi
ately received at that point. . Col. Miles sent the
Eighty-seventh Ohio regiment, with two twelve-
pounder howitzers. The enemy crossed in very
large force, cutting the canal at Seven-Mile Level,
driving back our forces to Berlin, thence to Knox-