Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood
September 12-15, 1862

Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 20, 1862

Surrender of Harper's Ferry.

From a participant in the engagement, we have obtained some particulars with reference to the investment and subsequent surrender of Harper's Ferry. Our informant states that Gen. Jackson left Frederick on Thursday taking the Hagerstown road, and at the same time the divisions of Gens. McLaws and R. H. Anderson moved from the vicinity of Frederick for the Maryland Heights, overlooking the town of Harper's Ferry. On Wednesday, the division of Gen. Walker was sent down to destroy the canal aqueduct at the month of the Monocacy, and arrived at the point during that night. The next morning, early, before they had accomplished their purpose, an order was received from Gen. Lee, directing Gen. Walker to proceed with his forces, by forced marches, to the Loudoun Heights, via Point of Rocks, to prevent the enemy at Harper's Ferry from escaping in that direction. The division crossed the river at Point of Rocks, nine miles below Harper's Ferry, and on Fridayevening reached the position assigned them. Gen. Jackson's force reached Williamsport men the Potomac, on Fridaymorning, and immediately crossed and moved on Martinsburgtwenty miles above Harper's Ferry, where there were some three or four thousand of the enemy's forces. On the approach of Gen. Jackson this force fell back, and united with the force at Harper's Ferry, be loved to number about five thousand. Gen. Jackson pursued, and on Saturdaymorning reached Halltown, four miles Southwest of Harper's Ferry. From this point be dispatched a courier to General Walker, then in possession of the Heights south of the town, directing him not to open his guns upon the enemy's fortifications until he (Gen. J.) got in position, of which he promised to notify General Walker.

Meanwhile the divisions of McLaws and Anderson, after but little resistance, had become masters of the Heights on the Maryland side, the enemy leaving them, and joining the forces in their entrenchments on the Virginia side of the river.--On SaturdaynightGeneral Walker received orders from General Jackson to open fire upon the enemy at daylight on Sundaymorning. In obedience to this order, at day-down the stillness of the Sabbath was broken by the opening of Walkers guns upon the fortifications of the enemy on Bolivar Heights, tow miles above the railroad bridge at Harper's Ferry. At the same time the attack was made by the forces under General Jackson, and the fight, which was desperate and determined, continued throughout the day : McLaws and Anderson shelling from the Maryland side. The enemy resisted with great spirit, and their guns, of which they had a large number in position, were handled with great effect upon the column of Gen. Jackson, which had to approach them through an open space, where their guns had unobstructed play.--The shells from Walker's batteries and the impetuous attacks of Jackson's men rendered their entrenchments on Bolivar Heights too warm for the enemy, and late in the evening they fell back to Camp Hill, one miles in rear of the Bolivar fortifications. Here they had heavy guns planted and strong entrenchments thrown up, but within easy range of the batteries of McLaws and Anderson, on the opposite heights. Night coming on, the struggle ceased, Jackson's forces occupying the deserted entrenchments on the hills of Bolivar. That night old "Stonewall" sent a message to General Walker that his forces were in possession of the enemy's first line of entrenchments, and that with God's blessing, he would have Harper's Ferry and the Federal forces early the next morning.

At daylight the next morning (Monday) the fight was renewed, the enemy still offering an obstinate resistance, until about seven o'clock A. M., when their colors were struck and a capitulation proposed. Of the terms of this capitulation we have learned no particulars, but conclude that they involved the unconditional surrender of the whole force, negroes as well as Yankees. About 9 o'clock our forces entered the second line of entrenchments, the enemy having surrendered everything, guns, ordnance, and commissary stores, &c. The number of the enemy is variously estimated at from seven to twelve thousand, and the negroes from fifteen hundred to two thousand.

Of our losses we are not apprised, but judge from reports that Gen. Jackson's column suffered pretty heavily. In Walker's division we had five killed, three of these by the accidental explosion of a shell. Among the killed in this division we have heard the name of Lieut. Robertson, of French's battery.


Since the above was written we have received the following additional particulars contained in a letter to Gov. Letcher, from Col. Francis H. Smith:

Winchester,Sept. 16--After the advance of our army to Frederick, and the issuing of the admirable proclamation to the people of Maryland by Lee, a movement took place with our troops, seemingly in the direction of Pennsylvania, but really for an important movement into Virginia. After sending a portion of his troops to occupy and hold the Maryland Heights, Gen. Jackson was directed by Gen. Lee to recross the Potomac at Williamsport, take possession of Martinsburg, and then pass rapidly behind Harper's Ferry, that a capture might be effected of the garrison and stores known to be there. The movement was admirably conducted. Martinsburg fell, with a capture of 150 prisoners and some stores, the most being taken to the Ferry. The investment of Harper's Ferry was effected on Saturday. Sundaymorning there was some firing and it was renewed yesterday morning, and the result the unconditional surrender of the garrison--10,000 men with all the arms, fifty pieces of artillery, ammunition, 100 wagons, quartermaster and commissary stores, and many cars, some of which were loaded, and 600 negroes. This important conquest was effected without the loss of a man on our side. So much is official. It is reported that the cavalry 1,000 in number, escaped by Shepherdstown.

Another account, received late last night, says that the surrender took place on Mondaymorning last at 10 o'clock. The firing commanded as early as 5 o'clock in the morning. Shortly after, the Yankee sent out a flag of truce, proposing a conditional surrender; but our firing did not cease when another flag was sent proposing an unconditional surrender, when the firing ceased. General Miles, the Federal commander, is reported to be wounded. The results of this surrender, according to this last account, are as follows: 12,000 Yankee 12,000 Rufield rifles, 50 cannon, 100 four horse team a number of fine artillery horses, a large quantity of ammunition, some quartermaster and commissary stores, and 1,000 "contrabands."

[by telegraph.]

Gordonsville, Sept. 19,

--At Harper's Ferry we paroled 11,090 privates, 425 officers, took 2,000 negroes, 15,000 stand of small arms, and forty-six pieces of cannon. Col. Walker's battery took 500 horses. Our loss was three killed and forty wounded. The battle commenced Sundaymorning, and opened again Monday at daylight. Their dead were covered in the ditches : we couldn't tell how many. In the fight at Sharpsburg we took 3,000 prisoners. Gen. Garland and Col. Strange were killed. Gen. D. H. Hill was roughly handed, but managed to hold the enemy in check.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Series 1 - Volume 19 (Part I)

p. 363-364

Camp near Sharpsburg, Md., September 24, 1862.

SIR: As directed, I report that I marched my regiment with the Second Brigade Regulars, Maj. C. S. Lovell commanding, across the Potomac River at the ford below Shepherdstown, W. Va., and about a mile beyond the river, when the enemy was discovered in force. A halt was ordered. The enemy advanced upon us. Our brigade retired in good order to an open space bordering the river, then halted. The enemy's skirmishers continued to advance. The Sixth and Second Regiments U. S. Infantry were formed on the left of our position, the Second occupying the extreme left and the edge of a heavy wood, with orders to hold the position at all hazards. The strength of the enemy forbade our remaining in this position. Timely orders from Major Lovell were received to fall back near the river and take position as well as 1 could under cover of the hill, which I obeyed promptly and in good order. I then threw out skirmishers on the flanks to keep the enemy's skirmishers at bay. This position was held but a short time when we were ordered to recross {sic} the river. This was accomplished in admirable order.

I append a list of casualties; also certificate of First Lient. Win. F. Drum, Second Infantry, of the gallant conduct of First Sergt. D. W. Burke, Company B, Second Infantry. I would call the attention of the brigade commander to this paper particularly.

Respectfully submitted.
Captain Second lifantry, Comdg. Second and Tenth Infantry.
Lieut. E. E. SELLERS,
Acting Asst. Adjutant. General, Second Brigade, Sykes' Division.

CAMP NEAR SHARPSBURG, MD., September 25, 1862.
SIR: I respectfully call to the notice of the officer commanding the gallant conduct of First Sergt. Daniel W. Burke, Company B, Second Infantry, on the 20th instant. When our troops were falling back across the Potomac, on hearing that a piece of artillery had been left unspiked, he volunteered to go back and do it, and, on getting permission, did go back and assist in spiking said gun in the face of the enemy's sharpshooters.

Hoping that the case will be noticed as it deserves, I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

First Lieutenant Second Infantry, Commanding Company B.
Capt. J. S. POLAND,
Second Infantry, Commanding Battalion.


Respectfully forwarded. This non-commissioned officer has been mentioned before for good conduct in face of the enemy.
Brigadier- General, Commanding.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Series 1, Vol. 19, Part I, p. 982

No. 173.

Reports of Maj. Gen. Ambrose P. Hill, C. S. Army, commanding Light Division, of Operations September 2-November 3.

Headquarters Light Division,
Camp Gregg, Va., February 25, 1863.

Colonel: . . .


On the morning of the 20th, at 6.30 o'clock, I was directed by General Jackson to take my division and drive across the river some brigades of the enemy who had crossed during the night, driven off General Pendleton's artillery, capturing four pieces, and were making preparations to hold their position. Arriving opposite Boteler's Ford, and about half a mile therefrom, I formed my line of battle in two lines, the first he brigades of Pender, Gregg, and Thomas, under command of General Gregg, and the second, Lane (Branch's brigade), Archer, and Brockenbrough under the command of General Archer. The enemy had lined the opposite hills with some seventy pieces of artillery, and the infantry who had crossed lined the crest of the high banks on the Virginia shore. My lines advanced simultaneously, and soon encountered the enemy. This advance was made in the face of the most tremendous fire of artillery I ever saw, and too much praise cannot be awarded my regiments for their steady, unwavering step. It was as if each man felt that the fate of the army was centered in himself. The infantry opposition in front of Gregg's center and right was but trifling, and soon brushed away. The enemy, however, massed in front of Pender, and, extending, endeavored to turn his left. General Pender became hotly engaged, and informing Archer of his danger, he (Archer) moved by the left flank and forming on Pender's left, a simultaneous, daring charge was made, and the enemy driven pell-mell into the river. Then commenced the most terrible slaughter that this war has yet witnessed. The broad surface of the Potomac was blue with the floating bodies of our foe. But few escaped to tell the tale. By their own account they lost 3,000 men, killed and drowned, from one brigade alone. Some 200 prisoners were taken. My own loss was 30 killed and 231 wounded; total, 261.

. . .

A.P. Hill,
Major-General,Commanding Light Division.

Lieut. Col. C. J. Faulkner,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps

pp. 1001-2.

No. 282.

Report of Brig. Gen. James J. Archer, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, of operations September 14-20.

Headquarters Archier's Brigade,
Camp Gregg, near Fredericksburg, Va., March 1, 1863.

Major: . . .


I resumed command of my brigade the evening of September 19.

The morning of the 20th, the division moved down to repel the enemy, who were crossing the Potomac at the Shepherdstown ferry. Line of battle was formed in a corn-field about three-fourths of a mile back from the ferry. Pender's brigade moved forward in the direction of the ferry, and General Greggs and Colonel Thomas toward a point somewhere to the right. When General Pender had gotten about half way to the ferry, General Hill directed me to take command of the three remaining brigades:Field's, commanded by Colonel Brockenbrough, on the right; Lane's in the center, and my own, under the senior colonel (Turney), on the left--and advance to the support of Pender. I moved straight forward until within a few hundred yards of General Pender's brigade, when, on his sending me back information that the enemy was attempting to flank him on the left, I moved by flank to the left, and the left regiment of my brigade, as soon as it was unmasked by Pender's, and each other regiment, as soon as unmasked by the preceding one, went in at double-quick; Colonel Lane's next, and then Field's, were in like manner and with equal spirit thrown forward on the enemy, killing many and driving the rest down the precipitous banks into the river. The advance of my command was made under the heaviest artillery fire I have ever witnessed.

Too much praise cannot be awarded to officers and men for their conduct. The litter corps in this, as in all the battles, has displayed as much valor as any troops in the field. Lieutenant Shelby, commanding that corps, displayed his usual gallantry, remaining under fire in the discharge of his duty after [receiving] a severe wound until ordered off the field. Captain Archer and Lieutenants Thomas and Lemmon, of my staff, rendered valuable and efficient assistance. We held our position until dark; when we returned to camp and took up our line of march the same night toward Martinsburg.

The regiments were commanded as follows: First Tennessee, Colonel Turney; Fourteenth [Tennessee], Lieutenant-Colonel Lockert; Seventh Tennessee, Lieutenant Howard, adjutant; Nineteenth Georgia, Capt. F.M. Johnston.

The loss of the brigade was 6 killed and 49 wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. J. Archer,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major R. C. Morgan,
Assistant Adjutant-General, A. P. Hill's Light Division.

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
September 29, 1862

The Recent Slaughter Near Shepherdstown - A lying account.

A correspondent of the New York Herald, writing from Sharpsburg, Md., Sept. 21, furnishes the following:

Between 8 and 9 o'clockyesterday morning Gen. Martindale's brigade, of Morell's division, Porter's corps, commanded by Col. Barnes, crossed the Sharpsburg ford, and formed in line of battle near a bluff, about a quarter of a mile from the ford, and directly on the bank of the river. They had scarcely done this before the enemy emerged in overwhelming numbers from a piece of woods, a short distance ahead, and commenced a galling fire of musketry. They then advanced in close column, and the Union troops were ordered not to fire, as it was our own men advancing. This order arose from the fact that the enemy's columns was headed by a red hospital flag. and those in the front ranks had on the dress of the Union soldiers. It was supposed to be a party of our men who had previously gone over the river with a flag of truce for the purpose of bringing our wounded soldiers across, who had been made prisoners by the enemy; but when the rebels continued firing and advancing it became evident that this was a heartless ruse, invented for the purpose of deceiving our men, and to enable them at the same time to get near enough to render their fire effective, without receiving that of our men. At last they were recognized, and, though the rebels numbered five to our one, the gallant follows returned their fire, and would have met the charge bravely, (the enemy advancing for that purpose,) had not the regiment which composed the right wing of our little force become somewhat panic stricken. Even after their right was exposed an effort was made to recover it and meet the advancing foe, a regiment being ordered for that purpose; but before this could be accomplished the enemy had turned our right and opened a galling cross fire, doing terrible execution. The order to retreat was now given, and in the greatest disorder and confusion our men started for the river. leaving the dead and wounded behind and followed by the enemy. who shouted and yelled like demons, firing as they ran. They even followed our men into the river, bayonetting and shooting them, while those on the banks continued firing as long as our men were in sight. All the troops who were on the Virginia side were ordered to return with as much speed as possible, as it was not known what force the enemy might have is the neighborhood. In the meantime several batteries had been placed in position on a commanding hill on the Maryland side, and a short distance to the left of the bluff near which our force was attacked. Shot and shell rained among the enemy; but this did not deter him from following up his victory, for while a man remained in reach of their reifies they continued to fire, Scores of the wounded and dying met a watery grave. A large number of our men were taken prisoners. It is feared that our shells did more harm among our own men than to the enemy, while covering the retreat of our men across the river. Fifteen were under the arch of an old mill. One of our shells burst in the arch, killing and wounding all but one, Edwin Wilkison, of Company I, 118th Pennsylvania.

Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: September 1862

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