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9th Vermont Infantry
Harper's Ferry

Memories of the Ninth Vermont at the
Tragedy of Harper's Ferry, Sept. 15, 1862.

136

held by an inadequate force with trifling defences on Maryland Heights, and the rest of the rim open to the occupation of the enemy. So anxious was Colonel Stannard about Loudon Heights that he made a personal reconnoissance of them, and went to Colonel Miles to urge the importance of seizing them, and begged to be allowed to take the Ninth Vermont and a battery to hold them, but his answer was that "it was impossible to get guns up there, and there was no danger. As to Maryland Heights, the enemy had always attacked from the valley by the west, and they would never attack from the east." To this Stannard replied, with characteristic vehemence, that without Loudon there was not hope for us except to cross the whole force to Maryland Heights instantly, and from there hold the pontoon and the town, if they were important to General McClellan's plans; that we should have the whole Rebel army to deal with, and concentration on that impregnable mountain, if quickly fortified, would alone enable us to carry our McClellan's wishes. This was the talk of every company mess of the Ninth Vermont. The dullest soldier sitting there, and seeing the clouds of dust across the Potomac in Maryland, as Lee's Corps marched northward behind Maryland Heights, toward their fate at Antietam, between us and the Army of the Potomac, could foresee the inevitable result. Grumbling, bitter criticism of Miles, and growing distrust of his loyalty were to be heard on all sides. The morale of our regiment was good. It was conscious of a highly important duty to perform to its comrades of the Army of the Potomac pressing Lee to a decisive battle almost in our sight. We knew we were in the centre of the rebel army, and in great danger, and that all the strategy of the campaign, Federal and Rebel, revolved upon us as a pivot. Every one rejoiced in our chance, at last, to do a brilliant thing for our country. Every one wished the utmost done to prepare for a successful endurance of the real ordeal of the slowly constricting siege. The fatuity of the man could not be explained except by challenging his loyalty. Every moment the enemy were crowding in on us. Far away through the gap, down the


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