Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 18, 1861 (Thursday) Harper's Ferry Arsenal Burned

Stock House at Harper's Ferry Arsenal (Park Service Image)

CHAMBERSBURG, April 19, 1861

   Finding my position untenable, shortly after 10 o’clock last night I destroyed the arsenal, containing 15,000 stand of arms, and burned up the armory building proper, and under cover of the night withdrew my command almost in the presence of twenty-five hundred or three thousand troops.  This was accomplished with but four casualties.  I believe the destruction must have been complete.  I will await orders at Carlisle.


General Winfield Scott

At his point in the war low ranking officers such as Lieutenant Roger Jones could find themselves in positions of great responsibility.  Jones actions prevented the loss of the arms spoken of to Virginia troops, but not that of the machinery at Harper’s Ferry for producing rifles.  Part of the machinery was sent to Richmond, part to Fayetteville, NC where they produced far more rifles than were destroyed at Harper’s Ferry.  Jones received the thanks of the President through Secretary of War Cameron.  The Senate was less kind, in November demanding an accounting of the losses, which came to $1,297,668.

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