Vermont Flag Site Logo
9th Vermont Infantry
Harper's Ferry

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


14th upon Crampton's Gap, and I closed by saying, 'I ask of you at this important moment all your intellect and the utmost activity that a general can exercise.'"

Crampton's Gap was twelve miles away. Why did he not start him that night? Franklin's men were fresh. He has assured Miles he would relieve him by the 14th, and yet he only started Franklin on the 14th, and he did not get to fighting until noon, and then in the midst of a successful fight after three hours with the enemy panic-stricken, he quit. If he had closed upon the Gap on receipt of the order, and attacked at daylight, he would not have found Cobb, Semmes, and Mahone's old brigade in his front. Cobb and Semmes in their report to Lee state that their Brigades were stampeded and could not be stopped, and they finally deployed two regiments of fresh troops and a battery a mile from the bottom of the gap in Pleasant Valley and on this new line rallied their own troops. Had Franklin gone on, he was only three and one-half miles from Anderson and McLaws, and by attacking them that evening he would have captured them and relieved us. It was not until the next morning that McLaws formed his line of battle across the valley below Crampton's and Solomon's Gaps, of which he reported:

"Our loss in brigades was very heavy, and the remnant collected to make front across the valley was very small. On the 16th the enemy did not advance nor offer any opposition."

This was the line Franklin and Smith looked down upon from Brownsville Gap and decided too formidable to attack with the whole of the 6th Corps and Couch's Division which had come up over night. Suppose Grant, Sherman, or Sheridan had fought their campaigns on this eight-hours-a-day principle, when would they have arrived at Appomattox? No soon had dawn broken on Sunday morning than our last hope fled as we saw the rebels had, during the night, been working on Loudon Heights and were now plainly visible in

Next PageIntroduction