Destruction of the Harpers Ferry Armory

Extracts from Senate Rep. Com. No. 37, 37th Cong., 2d Sess.


APRIL 18, 1862. - Ordered to be printed. Motion to print five thousand additional copies of the report without the documents referred to the Committee on Printing.

Mr. HALE submitted the following:


The select committee of the Senate, appointed by resolution of the 25th of July, 1861, ''to inquire into the circumstances attending the surrender of the navy yard at Pensacola, and the destruction of the property of the United States at the navy yard at Norfolk, and at the armory at Harper's Ferry, and the abandonment of the same by the forces of the United States, and to inquire especially if there was any default in either case on the part of any officer of the United States," have attended to the duty assigned them, and now submit the result of their inquiries to the Senate. The committee assembled at the Capitol, at Washington, on the 6th day of November last.



In regard to the destruction of the public property at Harper's Perry and the abandonment thereof by Captain Roger Jones, the officer in charge, the committee see no cause for censuring him. It appears that an attack by a large armed force was imminent, and he had no means of effective resistance. In this emergency he fired the buildings and deserves praise for the skilful [sic] and effectual manner in which he destroyed the arms in the arsenal and retreated with his command from the place. To the neglect of the government to take any measures to strengthen and defend Harper's Ferry during the winter preceding its abandonment, the same general remarks are applicable as have been made in reference to the Norfolk navy yard.

The committee submit to Congress and the country all the evidence taken in regard to the transactions committed to their charge.



A communication, of which the following is a copy, was transmitted to the Secretary of War:

UNITED STATES CAPITOL, November 13, 1861.

SIR: The committee of the Senate charged with the investigation of the "circumstances attending the destruction of the property of the United States at Harper's Ferry in Virginia, and the abandonment of the armory at that place," desire the attendance before them immediately of all officers stationed at said armory at the time of its destruction, and a copy of the orders under which the officer in command was acting at the time of its abandonment.

JOHN P. HALE, Chairman.


November 14, 1861.

The committee assembled according to adjournment.
Present: Senators Hale and Grimes.

A communication, of which the following is a copy, was transmitted to the Secretary of War:

UNITED STATES CAPITOL, November 14, 1861.

SIR: The committee of the Senate "to inquire into the circumstances attending the destruction of the property of the United States at the armory at Harper's Ferry," &c., desire to be informed by the War Department of the date of the establishment of the Harper's Ferry armory, the amount expended upon the same by the government previous to its destruction, the character of the buildings, machinery, &c., and the quantity and description of arms destroyed there and of the material on hand at that time.

Respectfully yours,

JOHN P. HALE, Chairman.

Secretary of War.

. . .

November 15, 1861.

The committee assembled at 11 o'clock according to adjournment.
Present, Senators Hale and Grimes.

Captain. Roger Jones was sworn, and in answer to interrogatories gave the following testimony:

Examined by Mr. Hale.

Question. When did you enter the United States army, and what is your present rank?

Answer. I am now major in the inspector general's department of the army, and entered the army on the first of July, 1851.

Question. When was the armory at Harper's Ferry destroyed, and were you in command there at the time?

Answer. The armory was destroyed on the night of April 18, 1861. I was in command of the military forces there at the time. I had been there since January 7, 1861, but had been in command less than three weeks. From the time I went there till the 1st or 2d of April, Major Henry J. Hunt, now of the 5th artillery, was in command, at which time he was relieved and sent to Fort Pickens.

Question. What other officers of the army were there?

Answer. The night before the destruction, Captain Kingsbury, of the ordnance department, was sent there under the direction of the War Department to take Captain Barbour's place as superintendent of the armory. Captain Barbour was at that time in the Richmond convention. Captain Kingsbury arrived in the evening train on the 17th of April. There were no other army officers there except Paymaster or Military Storekeeper Murphy, who has since been dismissed from the service.

Question. What instructions or orders had you for your government there at that time?

Answer. Instructions were furnished to Major Hunt when he went there, and subsequent instructions were given him. In going away, when he relinquished the command to me, he ommitted [sic] to leave these instructions with me, but I was familiar with the purport of them. These comprise all the instructions ever issued to the commander of the armory while I was there. They are shown in three letters, of which the following are copies, marked A, B, and C.


Washington, January 3,1861.

SIR: A picked company of eight non-commissioned officers and sixty privates, under First Lieutenant Roger Jones, mounted riflemen, has been ordered, without delay, to Harper's Ferry armory, Virginia, to report to you there. The Secretary of War directs that you repair to Harper's Ferry and assume the military command of the armory; that without making a display of your force, you so dispose it as to prevent the success of an attack upon the United States property there should one be attempted. The company will go without arms or accoutrements, but you will equip it from the stores in the armory. In your selection of the kind of arms for your command, you will be guided by circumstances which will appear to you readily, such as the manner in which the men have been drilled and the kind of arms disposable. If you do not find the proper ammunition there, make a requisition for it through this office and it will be sent from the arsenal in this city.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. COOPER, Adjutant General.

Brevet Major H. J. HUNT,
Captain 2d Artillery, Washington, D. C.


WASHINGTON, January 14,1861.

COLONEL: In my letter of instructions from your office, dated January 3, it is stated that "The Secretary of War directs that you repair to Harper's Ferry and assume the military command of the armory; that without making a display of your force you so dispose it as to prevent the success of an attack upon the United States property there should one be attempted."

The regular force at my disposal is one officer and sixty men. Two Companies, composed of workmen in the armory, and numbering some 120 men, could probably be relied upon to assist in repelling any attack not authorized or countenanced by the State; if such attack should be authorized, many of the men would possibly join in it, and from the peculiarity of their position might surprise us in spite of any vigilance.

Shall I resist such an attack?

The armory is, in its present condition, from the nature and position of the buildings, almost entirely indefencible by a small force. The present garrison, if attacked by superior numbers, could only hope to defend, itself, and that for a limited time. To do this it would be necessary, besides other preparations, to take possession, when attacked, of one or more private buildings near and commanding the arsenal. It could not protect the public property against a well organized or persistent effort to capture it.

From the nature of my instructions, I have not considered it proper to make any of the usual military preparations for defence except to keep my command on the alert. Any measures to be at all effectual would be of such character as to excite the already feverish feeling of the neighborhood, and perhaps induce an attempt on the armory. I have, therefore, abstained from all such labors or acts as would serve to increase the present excitement.

As the two duties prescribed - to make no display, yet to take measures to prevent the success of an attack - would seem to be incompatible with each other, I respectfully request more definite instructions. I do not feel authorized, without such, to put the place in a defensive attitude, and unless this is done any defence, however destructive to either party, must be feeble. I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

Brevet Major U. S. A., Captain 2d Artillery.

Colonel S. COOPER,
Adjutant General U. S. A.


Washington, January 16, 1861.

SIR: Your letter of the 14th instant has been submitted to the Secretary of War, and is now returned to this office with the following indorsement:

"WAR DEPARTMENT, January 16, 1861.

"Major Hunt will conform strictly to the instructions originally given him. His present command would not be available for purposes of defence, against any powerful organized force. It is desirable to avoid all needless irritation of the public mind, and in any effort to strengthen himself for the purpose of protecting the public property from any irregular unorganized assault, he will proceed quietly, so as to avoid all military display.

"Secretary of War, ad interim."

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Adjutant General.

Major H. J. HUNT,
United States army, Washington, D. C.

Question. How large was the force under your command?

Answer. When I went there in January, the command consisted of sixty-two non-commissioned officers and men. By the 18th of April this force by deaths, desertions and discharged, had become reduced to forty-nine men.

Question. Please state in detail, without being specially interrogated, all you did, and all the facts within your knowledge in connexion with the destruction of the armory?

Answer. At 9 or 10 o'clock on the morning of the 18th of April, 1861, I received a telegraphic despatch from General Scott, telling me that three trains of troops had passed from Manassas Junction up the Manassas railroad for the supposed destruction of Harper's Ferry, and saying "Be on your guard." I immediately acknowledged the receipt of his despatch, and at about 5 in the evening of that day informed the general by telegraph that I had received intelligence confirmatory of his morning despatch. Just after the information contained in General Scott's despatch was confirmed, I learned that a force estimated at from three to four hundred men, had assembled at Halltown, on the turnpike to Charlestown, and three or four miles from the Ferry. Not satisfied that this intelligence was correct, I sent a man on horseback to ascertain in regard to it, and in about three-quarters of an hour he returned confirming the report. In the meantime, having become satisfied that an attempt would be made to seize the arsenal and workshops during the night, I made preparations for the destruction of the place, to be carried out only in the event of my being unable to defend it. I detailed twelve men of my company, and ordered six of them to get their bed-sacks, which were filled with straw, and put a keg of powder in each one of them. I proceeded in person with this party from the armory to the arsenal buildings. The arsenal buildings were detached from the main armory workshop, not in the same enclosure, but on the other side of the street, and in no way connected with it. I distributed these sacks, with powder in them, in the two arsenal buildings, which contained the arms, and with the aid of shavings and bituminous coal, which I had previously carried in there thinking that I might have to take post there to defend the place, and with a quantity of lumber lying in the buildings, I prepared things so that a fire could be kindled in an instant. These preparations were completed before 6 o'clock in the evening of the 18th of April. At about 6 o'clock a number of the workmen in the armory, perhaps in all from thirty to forty, under some of the officers of a company into which they had organized themselves at the time of the John Brown raid, offered their services to Captain Kingsbury and myself for the defence of the place. I posted a part of them along the railroad which leads to Winchester through Charlestown, and another picket on the turnpike leading to Halltown, with instructions to keep me advised of the advance of any troops, and, if possible, to hold them in check if any should attempt to come. Affairs remained in this state, everything being quiet until about 9 o'clock in the evening, when I commenced to report the condition of things there to General Scott, by letter, of which the following is a copy:

Harper's Ferry, Va., April 18, 9 p. m., 1861.

SIR: Up to the present time no assault or attempt to seize the government property here has been made, but there is decided evidence that the subject is in contemplation, and has been all day, by a large number of people lying in the direction of Charlestown; and at sundown this evening, several companies of troops had assembled at Halltown, about three or four miles from here, on the road to Charlestown, with the intention of seizing the government property, and the last report is that the attack will be made to-night.

I telegraphed this evening to General Scott that I had received information confirming his despatch of this morning, and later, to the adjutant general, that I expected an attack to-night. I have taken steps which ought to insure my receiving early intelligence of the advance of any forces, and my determination is to destroy what I cannot defend, and if the forces sent against me are clearly overwhelming, my present intention is to retreat into Pennsylvania.

The steps I have taken to destroy the arsenal, which contains nearly fifteen thousand stand of arms, are so complete that I can conceive of nothing that will prevent their entire destruction. If the government purposes maintaining its authority here, no time should be lost in sending large bodies of troops to my assistance, and as many of them as possible should be regulars.

A courier has just reported the advance of the troops from Halltown.

Respectfully, I am, sir, your obedient servant,

First Lieutenant Mounted Riflemen, Commanding.

Headquarters of the Army, Washington, D. C.

While writing I was interrupted repeatedly by various parties stating that troops were on their way for the seizure of the place. I think three couriers came in with that intelligence, one of whom stated that the Halltown troops, increased I believe to about four hundred men, were advancing, and that one of my parties had determined to retire and go home under the belief that it was utter folly to attempt to resist the approaching force. Anxious to complete the report I was writing to General Scott, and believing that the enemy were not so near as reported, I determined to finish it; and having done so, went immediately to examine for myself the state of affairs. In a few moments I met a gentleman riding in from Charlestown, who informed me that he had seen a proclamation of the governor of Virginia, and orders to General Harper to take command of a force which had been organized in lower Virginia, and seize the government property at the ferry. He further informed me that this force was not less than three thousand strong, and some two hours previously had started by rail from Winchester, distant about thirty miles. He said that all the roads were lined with wagons and troops marching to seize the armory - referring to the roads between Charlestown and Winchester. In regard to the Halltown troops, he stated that he had passed them about twenty minutes previous to this conversation, and that at this time they were probably not a mile distant. Under these circumstances, I decided that if anything was to be done to save the arms from falling into the enemy's hands it was to be done then. In the presence of the gentleman who had given me this information I communicated the state of things to Captain Kingsbury. I then gave orders to fire the buildings, and it was done. Having taken this step, there was but one course left to me to save my command from the exasperation of a disappointed mob; and I immediately commenced a retreat to Hagerstown on the way to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We started from the ferry at about half-past ten o'clock in the evening and marched all night on foot over the mountains, and reached Hagerstown shortly after seven the next morning. At about one or two o'clock in the afternoon of the 18th, being satisfied that an attack would be made, I destroyed the bridge over the canal which supplies the water-power, so as to make it as difficult as possible for an assaulting party, and Captain Kingsbury removed the powder from the magazine building, which was a quarter or half a mile away, into the armory, and later in the evening, about sundown, I think, made preparations to destroy the workshops of the armory proper. The rifle works were situated half a mile up the Shenandoah from the main works, where the troops were, and were left undestroyed; no attempt to destroy them being made for the reason that it would probably have led to the defeat of the plan which had been formed, as I was surrounded by spies and persons in the interest of the rebel cause, who watched every movement and everything that was done. I feared that by attempting too much I should fail in everything, and therefore confined myself to what I was certain could be accomplished. On Tuesday or Wednesday, the 16th or 17th of April, Mr. Herr, a prominent and wealthy citizen, of Harper's Ferry, came to me and said that he was going to Baltimore on business, and that as he felt certain there would be trouble at Harper's Ferry in a few days, he had determined to offer his services to me as the bearer of any communication or message I might think proper to send to Mr. Cameron, the Secretary of War, stating at the same time that he had known Mr. Cameron intimately. Believing that I could trust him, and knowing that he had very great interests at stake in the preservation of the federal authority there, I requested him to say to Mr. Cameron that if it was expected or desired that we should hold the place, he must send a thousand men there by the next night. So particular was I as to the time of the arrival of the troops, that I insisted upon his coming to Washington that night instead of to Baltimore, as he first intended, and urged upon him the necessity of his seeing Mr. Cameron that night, immediately upon his arrival, which he promised to do. I also told him to urge upon Mr. Cameron the necessity of sending these men there that very night, if possible, but under no considerations whatever to delay their coming beyond the next night. I believed that my message had been delivered to Mr. Cameron until the return of Mr. Herr in the evening train on Thursday, the 18th, when, to my utter surprise and disappointment, he informed me that he had failed to see Mr. Cameron, or to deliver him my message. It was a verbal communication that I sent by him, for he made the proposition to me so short a time before the departure of the train that I was unable to write it.

Question. How many workmen were engaged in the armory?

Answer. I have never seen the rolls of the workmen employed there, but recollect that I was once informed that there were between three and four hundred men.

Question. .How many buildings were there belonging to the government, and what were their purposes?

Answer. In the armory proper there was one long workshop, 300 yards and upwards in length. In this building all the finer operations of the manufacture of arms were carried on. I think there were seven other buildings in the armory yard, which were used for various purposes necessary in the manufacture of arms, some of them being used as storehouses for material, iron, gun-barrels, &c. These seven buildings were of brick, and containing almost no wood-work at all about them, were of a nearly indestructible nature by fire. A better idea of the buildings can be gained by a plan of the armory, which I presume can be obtained at the Ordnance bureau. In the rifle works, half a mile up the Shenandoah, there were two large buildings and two or three minor buildings. Besides those I have mentioned, there were also dwelling houses, occupied by the superintendent, storekeeper, armorer, and clerks employed in the armory, and a number of other small buildings, situated in different parts of the town, in which employes of the works lived.

Question. What was the extent of the destruction?

Answer. I have no personal knowledge. I fired the two arsenal buildings only, which contained about 15,000 stand of arms, and then immediately withdrew with my command. From persons who were there at the time of the destruction and have been there since, I have received information that the arsenal buildings were completely destroyed, with most of their contents, but that the fire was arrested in the workshops before one-third of them was destroyed.

Question. When did you first apprehend danger to your command and to the federal authority there?

Answer. From the time I first went there I believed that the fate of the armory would eventually be the same as that of the other arsenals throughout the south; but I never apprehended any immediate danger till the attack was made upon Fort Sumter.

Question. Did you ever communicate any of those apprehensions to the government? If so, when and in what manner?

Answer. I think I had two interviews with General Scott, in which I took occasion to refer to the danger to my command there, and to the safety of the armory. According to the best of my recollection, the substance of what I said was, that the number of men necessary for the defence and protection of the property was dependent upon the strength of the force sent against it, but that with eight or ten hundred men I believed that we could successfully resist any attack which could be made against it, till reinforcements could reach us. I think one of these interviews took place early in February and the other about the 20th of March. General Scott said, in substance, "I have no more troops, sir, that I can send you." I replied, "I don't expect to need any more, unless Virginia should pass an ordinance of secession. Then they will be needed."

Examined by Mr. Grimes.

Question. Did you ever receive any other order or command from the War Department, except such as is embodied in letters A, B, and C, in your testimony?

Answer. I never did.

Question. How far is it from Harper's Ferry to Hagerstown?

Answer. About twenty-seven miles.

Question. Is there uninterrupted communication from Hagerstown to Carlisle, and thence to Harrisburg and Philadelphia?

Answer. There is.

Question. How large was the force which you were informed was about to be brought against you?

Answer. Three thousand men.

Question. Are you satisfied, from information received since that time, that that number of men were in the vicinity and preparing to attack you?

Answer. I am satisfied that before sunrise on the morning after I left there were 3,000 armed men there, and at sundown that day the number was increased to more than 5,000 men.

Question. When were you first advised by the general-in-chief that a force would be brought against you?

Answer. On the morning of the 18th of April, at about ten o'clock.

Question. How many men do you suppose would have been necessary to defend the armory?

Answer. I think that with 1,000 men we could have defended ourselves against 5,000 of such troops as they could have brought against us. I would state here that on the night of Monday, April 15, I received a despatch from General Scott, asking if 80 or 100 men and an officer from Carlisle would be of any service to me. I replied in the negative, for this reason: that I knew if any demonstrations were made against the place it would be by a very large force, probably numbering thousands, and that 80 or 100 men added to my small force of less than 50 would contribute nothing towards the defence of the place and the preservation of the federal authority there, but would only tend to increase the disaster and encumber my retreat, in case a retreat should become necessary. The sequel shows the correctness of that opinion.

The foregoing testimony having been read to Captain Jones, was pronounced by him to be correct.

Major United States Army, Assistant Inspector General.

November 26, 1861.

The committee met at 11 o'clock according to adjournment.
Senator Grimes present.

Colonel C. P. Kingsbury having been sworn, in answer to interrogatories, gave the following testimony:

Examined by Mr. Grimes.

Question. Were you an officer of the United States army on the 18th of April last? If so, state your rank, what corps you belonged to, where you were stationed, and under what orders you were acting.

Answer. On the 18th of April, 1861, I was a captain of ordnance in the United States army, and acting superintendent of the Harper's Ferry armory, under the orders of the War Department, of which the following is a copy, viz:

"Washington, April 17, 1861.

"SIR: By direction of the Secretary of War, you will immediately proceed to Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and perform the duties of superintendent of the armory at that place until further orders.

"I am, sir, very respectfully, &c.,

"Adjutant General.

"Ordnance Department."

Question. State all the facts in connexion with the destruction of the United States armory at Harper's Ferry, in the State of Virginia; when it was destroyed, how much of it was destroyed, under what orders, or by whose direction, or under whose suggestion it was destroyed; the amount of military force at hand that could be used for its defence, and the amount of insurgent force brought against it, or which you had reason to believe was brought or about to be brought against it.

Answer. After receiving the preceding order I was directed to report to Lieutenant General Scott for verbal instructions. I was informed by him that my assignment to duty at the armory was only temporary; that a permanent superintendent would be appointed in a few days, and that it was his intention to order a regiment thither as soon as one could be spared for the purpose. I arrived at Harper's Ferry in the evening of the day on which I received the order, and soon after had an interview with Lieutenant (now Major) Roger Jones, in command of the detachment stationed there. In that interview I suggested that, in case of an attack by a considerable force, it might become necessary to destroy the arms. He concurred with me in this opinion, and added that Major Hunt and himself had come to the same conclusion. The next morning I assumed control of the establishment. The operations were continued as usual in the shops until the arrival of the morning train from the east. On that train came the late superintendent, a delegate to the Richmond convention, with a few friends, and their advent seemed to be the signal for a disloyal demonstration on the part of a crowd in attendance at the depot. The cry "Virginia will take care of Harper's Ferry" was loudly and defiantly uttered. The excitement soon extended to the shops and throughout the village. As the demonstration increased in volume it was deemed advisable to test the loyalty of the workmen, who had previously been organized into companies for the defence of the place. Work was suspended, the men were assembled, and all who were faithful to their allegiance and ready to protect the property of the United States were directed to assemble with their companies at one o'clock p. m., at the armory. This order was received with general applause, and the men dispersed, as was supposed, to make preparations for the meeting; but the hour arrived and brought with it no such force as had been expected. Many of the men were there and a few officers; but it was found impossible to collect a force that would have inspired any confidence against the approaching enemy. I was satisfied, from the experiment, that however loyal the men might be at heart, either from disaffected officers, or from an uncertainty as to the preponderating sentiment in the neighborhood, as a body they were not prepared to take a decided stand against the State of Virginia. Though the companies could not be formed, many individuals volunteered for such duty as they might be able to perform, and at a subsequent period in the day others offered their services, all of whom were posted about the buildings, or so as to watch the approaches on that side of the town from which the enemy was expected. About 3 o'clock p. m., a report was brought that three Virginia companies were marching from Charlestown to the Ferry. A mounted man was sent off to ascertain the facts, who reported, on his return that the companies had halted at Halltown, a few miles from the village, apparently waiting to be reinforced. Information had previously been received by telegraph from General Scott that a large force was on its way from Richmond, by the Manassas Gap railroad, with the supposed object of capturing the armory, and it had also been ascertained that the agents of the railroad to Winchester had been specially instructed to keep the track clear that night, which was an unusual order, as no night trains were habitually run upon that road. Having learned in the morning that the powder belonging to the armory was in the magazine on the heights, I had directed that it be brought down to the armory, where it was deposited in a room adjoining that occupied by Major Jones's detachment. The government powder was in packages of one hundred pounds each, and could not be conveyed to the storehouses containing the arms without revealing the fact and perhaps the object. Fortunately there were several smaller kegs which had been brought thither by John Brown, and which could be easily rolled up in the men's bed sacks without exposure, and transferred to the buildings in which the arms were stored. This was accordingly done; the boxes containing the arms were so arranged as to be most favorable to ignition, the faggots were piled, and the powder distributed ready for the application of the fire. It should be remarked that, in the arrangement of the powder, care was taken to prevent, as far as practicable, any injury to private dwellings or their occupants by the explosion. As the object of the force ordered from Richmond was plainly the seizure of the arms, their destruction was considered of the first importance, and a failure not to be hazarded by a diversion of the means to other parts of the establishment. As before stated, the government powder could not be distributed throughout the buildings without revealing its character and object, and as it was not deemed prudent to communicate the programme for the night to the operatives, it became necessary to rely upon the natural combustibility of the material for the destruction of the workshops and machinery. Between 9 and 10 o'clock p. m. a gentleman arrived from the country and informed Major Jones that about two thousand men were within a few miles of the ferry for the purpose of capturing the armory. This confirmed the intelligence previously received; and, to baffle their efforts to secure possession of the arms, no time was to be lost. The match was accordingly applied to the train already laid in the arsenals, and to the combustible materials in the carpenters' shop, and to the room containing the gun-stocks. The former were soon in a blaze; the last named was of difficult ignition, the flames at no time having obtained such a mastery as not to yield readily to the efforts of those who sought to extinguish them. As I had been at the place but about twenty-four hours, I was not familiar with the arrangement or extent of the fire apparatus, which proved to be more effective and complete than had been supposed. For several minutes after the conflagration commenced, and after the departure of Jones's detachment, the streets of the village appeared deserted. At length one man, more daring than his neighbors, made his appearance, rushed into one of the burning arsenals, and hauled therefrom into the street a box of arms, which he at once opened. On finding that it did not contain the rifle muskets, he rushed again towards the building for the probable purpose of trying his luck upon another, when the first discharge of John Brown's powder caused him to recoil, and it is believed that no further attempts were made to enter the arsenal buildings before the contents were destroyed. In the meantime large crowds had gathered near the workshops, and were industriously engaged in subduing the flames, in which they succeeded before any very serious injury had been done to the machinery.

Question. State, if you know, the amount of arms deposited at the armory; their character and value; how many of them and how effectually they were destroyed.

Answer. It is probable that not less than fifteen thousand stand of arms of various kinds were destroyed. The statement which, I understand, has been furnished from the Ordnance office must greatly underrate the number by assuming, perhaps, that issues had been made on orders which had not been executed. Of those packed and stored in the arsenals very few were recovered; possibly a thousand were scattered about in the shops, and fell into the hands of the rebels. The arms consisted of rifles, muskets, and rifle muskets, but in what relative proportions I am unable to state.

Question. What was the amount and description of raw material on hand to be used in the manufacture of arms; and how much of it, and how effectually was it destroyed?

Answer. As regards "the amount and description of raw material on hand," I have no precise information, but the facts can probably be ascertained at the Ordnance office. The last clause of the question has been already answered.

Question. Is it your opinion, as a military man, that the armory could have been defended against the insurgent force then overawing it, or which was assembling to assail it, by the loyal force then at the armory; and if not, how large a force would have been required for that purpose?

Answer. The detachment of regulars, under Major Jones, consisted of about fifty men, and constituted the only force on which much reliance could have been placed to resist an attack. Satisfactory evidence had been received that nearly two thousand men were advancing to assail the place; the odds would thus have been forty to one, and the statement of this fact would seem to convey a fitting reply to the question.

There is hardly a doubt that the object of the attack was to secure the arms at the armory for an ulterior purpose. The Richmond secession ordinance was adopted on the 16th, and this force was immediately organized and put in motion. Arrangements had been perfected for a demonstration in Baltimore, which came off at the prescribed time, but not altogether in the manner which had been agreed upon. It was doubtless supposed that the arms would reach Baltimore on the morning of the 19th, (the day on which the Massachusetts regiment was fired upon,) and with these and the reinforcements from Virginia, an attack upon the capital could hardly have failed of success. The conclusion that this object was in view, and that this plan of operations had been devised by which to effect it, is strongly corroborated by the large number of resignations from the army of Virginia officers in and about Washington within a few days of the event. The plot was ingeniously contrived as to time and means; but the sudden and unexpected interference with the latter baffled the conspirators, and Washington was saved.

The foregoing testimony having been read to Colonel Kingsbury, was pronounced by him to be correct.

Colonel United States Army.

WAR DEPARTMENT, November 18, 1861.

SIR: In reply to your letter of the 14th instant, I beg leave to enclose report from the chief of ordnance, furnishing you with all the information desired.

If you desire further information to conclude your report, we shall be pleased to furnish all that is possible from the records of this department.

Very respectfully,

Assistant Secretary of War.

Hon. JOHN P. HALE. U. S. S.,
Chairman of Senate Committee, &c.

Washington, November 16, 1861.

SIR: In answer to the letter of the honorable John P. Hale, chairman of the committee of the Senate, which you referred to this office, I have the honor to report that the Untied States armory at Harper's Ferry was established in the year 1796.

The amount expended on the same, is:

For land purchased at different times  $45,477
For improvements thereon, for water-power, canals, embankments, walls, and water privileges, and for hydraulic machinery, and buildings of all kinds1,787,430
Total, exclusive of the amount expended in the manufacture and repair of arms1,832,907

The latest annual inventory of the property belong to the United States, at that armory, is dated June 30, 1860, in which the value of all property on hand at that date, is appraised as follows, viz:

1,669 1/2 acres of land$37,457   
Mill-dams, canals, water-powers, and hydraulic machinery 233,279   
Forges, rolling-mills, machine shops, storehouses, dwellings, and other buildings341,221    
Amount of real estate      611,957
Machines used in workshops$270,235   
Tools used in same   109,560   
[Total machines and tools]      379,795
Unwrought materials on hand 100,043   
Parts of arms in progress  93,573   
[Total materials and parts]      193,616
20,507 arms of different models, in store      285,145
Total appraised value, June 30, 1860    1,470,513

By the latest returns received at this office from the armory, it appears that the number of arms in store when the armory was destroyed in April, 1861, was reduced to 4,287. The value of which was about $64,300.

We may assume that the quantity and value of all other property than the arms in store remained without material change, from June, 1860, to April, 1861. The diminished number of arms in store, at the latter date, reduces that item in the inventory from $285,145 to $64,300; and the total appraised value of all the property from $1,470,513 to $1,249,668.

Respectfully, I am your obedient servant,

Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance.

Secretary of War.

Washington, September 20,1861.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the reference to this office of the letter from honorable J. P. Hale, of the 16th instant, calling for certain papers, and to transmit herewith a letter and two telegrams from Captain Kingsbury, and a copy of a letter addressed to him from this office, which are the only papers on the records or files of this office which have any relation to the surrender or capture of Harper's Ferry armory.

Honorable Mr. Hale's letter is herewith returned.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier General.

Secretary of War.

Washington, April 17, 1861.

SIR: On your arrival at Harper's Ferry, after assuming the charge of the armory under the direction of the Secretary of War, you will take such measures for carrying on the operations of the armory in such manner as in your opinion will be most conducive to the public interest, and in accordance with the law and regulations. It is expected that a civil superintendent will be appointed, who will relieve you, when you will return to this office.

Respectfully, &c.,

H. K. CRAIG, Colonel of Ordnance.

Captain C. P. KINGSBURY,
Washington, D. C.

A true copy.

Captain Ordnance and Ass't.

HARPER'S FERRY ARMORY, April 18, 1861.

SIR: Pursuant to orders, I have the honor to report that I have assumed the charge of this armory ad interim. Mr. Barbour is absent. The water has not yet sufficiently fallen to resume the usual operations in the shops. At the present rate of subsidence work may probably be recommenced on the 20th instant. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain of Ordnance and Superintendent ad interim.

Colonel H. K. CRAIG,
Chief of Ordnance.

[By telegraph.]

HARPER'S FERRY, April 18,1861.

Intense excitement. An attack expected to-night. Jones's company alone to defend.


Colonel H. K. CRAIG, Ordnance Office.

[By telegraph.]

MONOCACY, MD., April 19, 1861.

Expect to arrive this afternoon. Please send to my wife.


Colonel H. K. CRAIG, Ordnance Office.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History