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.

150

over Weverton, and two brigades occupied with us, could easily have retorted on Stonewall Jackson for taking the Harper's Ferry force by bagging McLaws's and Anderson's divisions in a trap from which they had no escape. We would have been temporarily captured - but what would have been left of us recaptured? - and would have escaped the Harper's Ferry tragedy, although no doubt at heavy cost. Quoting General Walker again, he says:

"Owing to the fog I was ignorant of what had taken place, but surmising it, I ceased firing. The guns of Lawton, however, continued some minutes later. This happened unfortunately, as colonel Miles, the federal commander, was at this time mortally wounded by a fragment of a shell while waving a white flag in token of surrender. It was a pleasing sight to be perched on the top of the mountain and look down on more than twelve thousand boys in blue, stacking arms. Such a scene had its pathetic side, too, for after the first feeling of exultation is past, there comes one of sympathy for the humiliation of the brave men, who are no longer enemies, but unfortunate fellow-soldiers." [I hardly need explain that this is a post-bellum sentiment in the Century Magazine. I doubt if he was as sentimental as this at the time.] [He adds:] "No sooner had the surrender taken place than my division hurriedly took up its line of march to join Lee."

In the Rebel reports of Antietam it is stated that the batteries of Walker's division greatly needed long-range ammunition, but had none. They had used it all up on us. So we, at least, served this humble purpose in the hands of Providence for the Army of the Potomac. While the altercation was going on at the pontoon head, I well remember standing with a group of officers about our colors hurriedly debating what it was best to do with them. I remember taking them from the staves, the men crowding closely to screen what we were doing. We finally cut them up and divided them for souvenirs, to keep them from the enemy's hands, and here to-night I wear my strip of the colors of the 9th Vermont which I can truthfully and proudly say never graced a Rebel triumph in Richmond. I carried them on my person until the end of the war and treasure them yet unsullied by a


Next PageIntroduction