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Battle of Harper's Ferry
New York Times Articles

The following article is transcribed from the New York Times, dated September 18, 1862:





The Arrival of Our Correspondent

Preparations for the Rebel Attack Position of the Forces

The Rebel Force at Winchester Capture of Guerrillas, &c.


           HARPER's FERRY, Thursday, Sept. 11, 1862. After the lapse of several days, your correspondent has at length reached his destination from Baltimore, which place he left last Saturday morning, for Harper's Ferry; a considerable time to occupy in getting to the distance of eighty-eight miles, yet I have considered myself fortunate in reaching this beleaguered village by any route, no matter how circuitous. Many changes have taken place since I left two weeks since. The Winchester forces, falling back here, have occupied the brow of the Bolivar Heights; the lights shining through their long rows of tents, by night, presenting a beautiful sight, reminding one of a city set on a hill. The dense thickets of the London Heights have been invaded by the woodman's axe, and many a stately oak, which obscured the cannon's range, laid low. The forests have also been cleared away on the Maryland Heights for a long distance, and heavy thirty-two pounders mounted near the look-out on the extreme summit. Artillery in large quantities has been posted on the hills adjoining the village; cavalry and infantry stationed in favorable positions, and the military authorities are calmly waiting an attack, confident in being able to repulse any force which the enemy can bring. Gen. MILES, who is in command, says there is not a point where the enemy can appear upon which he cannot immediately concentrate his entire force of artillery, cavalry and infantry. There is but one way in which the rebels can hope to capture the place, and that is by coming from the way of Boonsboro, through the Sharpsburgh road, and attacking our batteries halfway up the Maryland Heights, on the flank. Such an undertaking, however, would be extremely hazardous for them. To prevent an attack from the rear on these guns, which I wrote you last week, was to be feared, the woods have been cleared away on the extreme top, and the 32-pounders mounted. A single regiment, assisted by this artillery, would, in the estimation of the military officers here, keep a whole division of men at bay. The danger from this direction is consequently past. The enemy occupy Winchester with three regiments. No more rebel troops are thought to be in the Valley, though an Irishman who lay in a cornfield at Berryville, eight miles from here, in the direction of Winchester, states that a train of rebels fully three miles long passed him on Friday, going in the direction of Martinsburgh. The enemy's pickets extended to within six miles of here yesterday, being only five miles below Sandy Hook. They stopped a butcher on the road, who was coming to the village, and seized all of his meat, paying him in Confederate notes. Eight companies of the Eighty-seventh Ohio were guarding Noland's Ferry on Friday week when the enemy effected a crossing. Their camp was back a half a mile from the river. Two companies were posted on the inland side of the canal, which runs parallel with and is considerably higher than the Potomac. After fording the river, which with our few men it was impossible to prevent so large a force from doing, they had yet to cross the canal. Details from the Ohio companies immediately fired the bridge, while their comrades prevented the rebels from coming up the river embankment by picking them off as fast as they showed their heads. The bridge was destroyed and five of the enemy killed. Our men being securely protected suffered no injury. The next day the regiment was compelled to retreat to Sandy Hook, which they did on the railroad track, thereby preventing a charge from the rebel cavalry, who hung on their rear. This Eighty-seventh Ohio, which is a three months regiment, is composed of the best kind of fighting material. Though their time is already up they express a willingness to remain as long as their services are required. Capt. HERRICK, the senior Captain, commands the position of the regiment left here. The Twelfth Regiment, N.Y.S.M., of your City, which has also remained beyond its time, is also another of the regiments which will be relied upon when the fight comes. Its Colonel (WARD) is now acting in the capacity of Brigadier-General. One of his men, who is a fierce fanatic, and has been endeavoring to distinguish himself for some time, deliberately shot through the legs a companion who was teasing him a few days since. Loading his gun in an instant he exclaimed: "Show me another man who is throwing those plum-stones." This same fellow has repeatedly been under confinement for reading his Bible while on guard. I used to see him on picket duty, with his musket in one hand and hymn-book in another. He is a strange compound, verily. The enemy undoubtedly intended to attack this place Saturday. J.W. FRENCH, a boatman, who accidentally got within their lines in the morning, overheard conversation to that effect. FLOYD was to head the force. Information of the same character was also received from other sources; and accordingly our men were drawn up on Bolivar Heights, ready to give or take battle. From this doubtless originated the report which was published in the Northern papers on Saturday, that a severe engagement had taken place here, in which Gen. WOOL repulsed the rebels handsomely. Perhaps they have an idea of starving us out. Gen. MILES has laid allof the surrounding country under contribution, and eatables are coming in rapidly. Forty-two loads of hay, wheat, flour, &c., were brought in yesterday. The rebel farmers in the valley are learning from sad experience that the way of the transgresser is hard. Gen. MILES received a semi-official order to surrender a few days since, when he replied that he should never surrender one of his boys, bring what force they could against him. The only way of retreat is now cut off, since the rebels have occupied Martinsburgh and Hagerstown, which it is reported they did with a heavy force of artillery, cavalry and infantry yesterday. In any such emergency, therefore, we should have to cut our way through London Heights or go by the way of Winchester. I however still adhere to the opinion that the rebels have no idea of occupying the upper portion of Maryland or Pennsylvania, but have made a raid simply to get up a big scare and divert attention. The Old Engine House is full of guerrilla and Confederate soldiers; among the latter are the 17 who were captured opposite here Monday afternoon. The taking of these men by the First Maryland Cavalry, familiarly known as ''Russell's Roughs,"was one of the most dashing exploits of the war. They rode up immediately to the rebel pickets, within two miles of Frederick, and seized some of the prisoners from directly under the guns of the enemy. A part of them are very intelligent. I was amused in a lengthy conversation held with them last evening at their opinions of matters North generally. "I guess you will give up now," remarked a Virginia soldier. "What do the Yankees think of onward to Richmond about these times?" inquired a large, swarthy Sergeant-Major from Louisiana. "If President LINCOLN would for once take a look over a battle-field as President DAVIS does, he would stop this war," said a member of the Fifth Mississippi, who had run away from Baltimore, his native city, to become a Confederate soldier. The same one remarked to me that JEFF. DAVIS was on the battle-field constantly during the seven days of fighting before Richmond. At Malvern Hills he stood within three feet of him at one time, and when a Lieutenant, early in the engagement, ordered a man back into his place who had fallen in the rear, he gently reprimanded him, remarking that any man who would faint at the sound of cannon was not worthy to share in the fight. I questioned them as to their opinion of our Generals and men. MCCLELLAN they unanimously agreed in saying was a splendid engineer, but no man to lead soldiers on the field, or win battles. POPE they would lynch, could they catch him. SIGEL they feared. As for their own Generals, JACKSON is their very ideal of what a soldier should be. Sums of his men informed me that JACKSON did the planning, and LEE fought most of his battles for him. With the exception of one FLAHARTY, who is a deserter from the First Maryland, having formerly drilled one of the Sharpsburgh companies, they are to be paroled to-day. Large numbers of our paroled men, taken in the recent battles, are arriving daily. Six hundred reached here last week, and fifteen hundred at Point of Rocks. After being stripped of money, clothing, shoes, &c., they were turned loose, to work their way back home as best they could. Several, I am told, have died from exhaustion and hunger before reaching our lines. Capt. COCK, the popular Provost-Marshal here, provides for all their wants, and when sufficiently recuperated, sends them on their way to join their various regiments. As I am closing this, a messenger brings me word that JACKSON and LEE occupied Boonsboro last night, and have extended their pickets to Keatsville, within three miles of Sharpsburgh, and thirteen of Harper's Ferry.

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