Col. Thomas J. Jackson to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Actions Since Taking Command at Harper’s Ferry

23 11 2020



O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 809-810

Division Headquarters,
Harper’s Ferry, Va., May 6, 1861.

General Lee, Commander-in-Chief:

General: I assumed command of this post on Monday last, soon after my arrival here. Since that time I have been busily occupied organizing the command and mustering the troops into service. I send herewith a report of the strength for May 4.* To-morrow I will give you a more detailed account of the forces, equipments, &c. All the troops have been mustered into service, except some companies on detached service. I have occupied the Virginia and Maryland Heights, and I am about fortifying the former with block-houses of sufficient strength to resist an attempt to carry them by storm. Whenever the emergency calls lor it, I shall construct similar works on the Maryland Heights. Thus far I have been deterred from doing so by a desire to avoid giving offense to the latter State. If you have an experienced engineer officer, I hope that you will order him here, if you have no duty for him elsewhere. There are four 6-pounder guns here without caissons. I respectfully request that you will send the caissons, and also two 6-pounder batteries and two extra 12-pounder howitzers, all fully supplied with ammunition, horses, equipments, and everything necessary for being turned over to companies now waiting for them. Reliable information has been received that the Federal troops are at the Relay House. As four thousand flints have been found here, I have taken the responsibility of ordering the one thousand flint-lock rifles from the Lexington Arsenal, and also ten barrels of musket and ten barrels of rifle powder, as in my opinion the emergency justified the order. Should the Federal troops advance in this direction, I shall no longer stand on ceremony. In addition to the cavalry stationed at Point of Rocks, I this morning ordered two 6-pounders to the same position. The enemy, from good authority, are about four thousand strong in the neighborhood of Chambersburg. About two-thirds of the machinery from the musket factory has been removed from here. This morning Mr. John Ambler, the quartermaster in Winchester, informed me that the merchants were paying double freights, and were thus securing all the transportation. To prevent the consequent delay of the machinery, I directed him to impress the wagons. He also notified me that the baggage cars from Strasburg were employed in carrying flour from the valley to New York, and that every barrel would be required for our use. To remedy this evil, until the subject could be referred to you, and also to secure the transportation for the machinery, I directed him to impress the cars. About four hundred and eighty Kentucky volunteers are here without arms, and stand greatly in need of them. I directed some old arms to be issued to them, but they refused to receive them. I refer the subject to you, with the hope that something may be done towards arming them. The material is good. My object is to put Harper’s Ferry in the most defensible state possible, and hence feel it my duty to give the best arms to the Virginia troops, as the others may at any time be ordered off. The news from the northwest shows great disaffection, especially in Ohio County.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Virginia Volunteers, Commanding.

*Not found.



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