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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.

158

was wounded, and helped carry him in a blanket to a spot near the Charles Town Pike, where an ambulance could reach him. They reported that as they bore him along toward Rigby's battery, which was still fighting, and saw Rigby's battery colors still flying, he exclaimed to his staff: "Why don't they haul down that God damned flag? It has been the death of me." The men gave it a treasonable construction, and I at the time thought so, but it may have been that in his death agony he meant that the failure to lower the flag drew the fire from which he received his death wound. On the other hand, an artillery captain, long at Harper's Ferry under him, testified that he saw him shortly before he died, and he said: "Captain, I have done my duty to my country, and I am ready to die. God bless you. " One of his staff swore his dying words were: "It is a fit way for a soldier who had tried to service his country to die, and I am content." God alone knows the truth of it, and will reward him for his patriotism, or punish him for his treason. The boys of the 9th Vermont may have been wrong, but in their sight the tragedy of Harper's Ferry was made complete by his death at the hands of an avenging God, from the last Rebel shell fired.

The commission felt the same uncertainty, reporting as follows:

"We approach the case of Colonel Miles with extreme reluctance. An officer who cannot appear before an earthly tribunal to answer or explain grave charges gravely affecting his character, who has met his death at the hands of the enemy, even upon the spot he so disgracefully surrendered, is entitled to the tenderest care. This the commission has awarded to Colonel Miles, and our opinion only repeats what runs through the nine hundred pages of written evidence strangely unanimous upon the fact that Colonel Miles's incapacity, amounting to almost imbecility, led to the disgraceful surrender of this important post. The officer who placed this incapable in command, Major-General Wool, is guilty to this extent of a grave disaster, and should be censured."

Again it says:


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