Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 8, 1861 (Saturday): A Slow Stride Forward

Harper's Ferry

                                                                        No. 1.

Instructions from General Scott to Colonel Stone, Fourteenth U.S. Infantry

                                    HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, June 8, 1861
   SIR: The General-In-Chief directs that with the command assigned to you you march to Edwards Ferry, which you will seize and hold, and, if practicable, cross the river and continue on to Leesburg.  Intercept supplies sent from Baltimore to Virginia.  Be governed in ulterior operations by information gained as you proceed.  If you can get intelligence, directly or indirectly, from General Patterson, which will fully justify the attempt, you will endeavor to affect a junction with his column.
  The General has left much to your well-known discretion, but he enjoins upon you to proceed with caution, and by no means to hazard the safety of your expedition.
   Report as often as circumstances will permit.
          Heratily wishing you success, I am, &c,
                                                                                    E. D. TOWNSEND
Col. C. P. Stone, Fourteenth U.S. Infantry, Washington

General Scott had the Army moving cautiously in June, but he was moving.  Patterson is ready to embark on his forward movement to Hagerstown, McClellan is moving slowly east and has secured Grafton on the B&O Railroad, and now Stone will move from Washington towards Leesburg in a diversion to make Patterson’s advance more secure.  Scott has cautioned Patterson he may move towards Harper’s Ferry but must, under no circumstances bring on any battle which might result in a check or even a draw.  Steady and calm is Scott, unsteady and prone to wild swings in mood is the public.  Stone is a veteran officer, highly regarded, but will eventually fall under suspicion from Republican elements in the government and Army and be arrested without charges early in 1862.  After the war he served as an officer in the Egyptian Army and was chief engineer responsible for building the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

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