Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Defensibility of Harper’s Ferry

14 12 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 895-896

Memorandum for General Lee.

Headquarters,
Harper’s Ferry, Va., May 31, 1861.

Intelligence was brought me this morning, from a gentleman residing near Hagerstown, that 1,600 troops arrived in Chambersburg on Tuesday and 5,000 yesterday, making, with the 3,500 there before, 10,100, with plenty of artillery (quantity unknown), many wagons and horses. A note was shown me yesterday, written in Hagerstown on Wednesday afternoon, by a woman, in which it is said that such a force is to move to the Potomac (with baggage wagons) from Chambersburg through either Hagerstown or Greencastle.

In another note (from an officer of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad), it is said that large forces are to enter Virginia somewhere between Cumberland and Hagerstown to meet Ohio troops. The Northern papers confirm this.

An officer of the railroad told me here that news of the occupation of Grafton by U. S. troops is brought by telegraph. We can learn nothing from the west, nor beyond the range of persons specially employed. Should the enemy cross the river above, we cannot learn when the Ohio troops join them, nor in what numbers.

This place cannot be held against an enemy who would venture to attack it. Would it not be better for these troops to join one of our armies, which is too weak for its object, than be lost here ? They are not equipped for the field. The only means of transportation, besides the railroad, are wagons impressed in the neighborhood. Should these troops be ordered elsewhere, please indicate any objectionable [?] route.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON,
Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.


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