Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 13, 1861 (Tuesday): Leaving Harper's Ferry

Maryland Heights

                                                            HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
                                                                                    August 13, 1861.
            Commanding, &c, Sandy Hook, Md:
   You are authorized to withdraw your batteries and troops from Maryland Heights and Harper’s Ferry, leaving a guard to observe the enemy, and to take such position with your army as you deem best, between Frederick and the Potomac and on either side the Monocacy, to observe the enemy across the Potomac and protect the canal.  If involved in or threatened with active operations you may absorb the upper part of Stone’s command or, in an extreme case, the whole of it within your reach.
                                                            WINFIELD SCOTT

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 560.

The problem with Harper’s Ferry is the same reported by Confederate General Joseph Johnston.  It is a central, and important position, but difficult to defend given the heights which command it.  Banks also wanted to operate closer to the supply depot which was being established around Frederick.  What Scott envisions, the cooperation with Stone’s command down river being essential, is a corps of observation which would act to detect and delay any movement north across the river into Maryland.

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