Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee and Col Thomas J. Jackson on the Occupation of Maryland Heights

26 11 2020



O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 823-825

Division Headquarters,
Harpers Ferry, May 9, 1861.

Major-General Lee,
Commander Virginia Forces:

General: If this place is attacked, we may expect the enemy to make a free use of rifled cannon, in addition to field artillery, and possibly larger caliber.

The object of this letter is to state that Colonel Thomas, adjutant-general of Maryland, has placed at my disposal the ordnance from the Virginia navy-yard en route for Baltimore via this place, and to request that you will, should it meet with your approbation, send a competent ordnance officer, with sufficient force and means, to mount such pieces as I may designate.

I am, general, your most obedient servant,

Colonel Virginia Volunteers, Commanding Division.

P. S.—There are about 2,200 Federal troops at the Relay House, others beyond Baltimore, and about 4,000 near Chambersburg, Pa. I have occupied the Maryland Heights with the Kentuckians and one company of infantry from Augusta County, making about 500 in all.

Headquarters Virginia Forces,
Richmond, Va., May 10, 1861.

Col. T. J. Jackson,
Virginia Volunteers, Commanding Harper’s Ferry, Va.:

Colonel: Your letter of the 7th instant, by Major Massie, has been received. Orders have been given to fill your requisition for arms, ammunition, and accouterments as far as possible. In addition to the guns that you were advised yesterday would be sent to you, I have directed two 32-pounders, with navy carriages, and a supply of ammunition, &c., to be forwarded to you. They will be in charge of Lieutenant Fauntleroy, of the Navy, who is ordered to report to you, and I hope will be useful in defending your post.

Your intention to fortify the heights of Maryland may interrupt our friendly arrangements with that State, and we have no right to intrude on her soil, unless, under pressing necessity, for defense. I had hoped that her own citizens would have relieved us of that question, and you must endeavor to give to the course you may find it necessary to pursue the appearance of its being the act of her citizens. At all events, do not move until actually necessary and under stern necessity.

I have directed the companies ordered to rendezvous at Staunton to be sent to you as soon as mustered into the service, and I hope you will receive a large accession of troops under the authority extended to you. Several officers of experience have been sent to you, and I shall endeavor to send some cadets. I know, from the spirit with which you are animated, that you will leave nothing undone to insure the defense of your post and the security of your command. You will not neglect, therefore, the instruction of the troops, who ought to be constantly practicing their military exercises and prepared in every way for hard service. Every rifle that you can finish will be of advantage, but it will be necessary to send off that machinery as soon as the musket factory is removed. I have directed the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments to send funds, if practicable, to the assistant quartermaster and commissary at your post.

Respectfully, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
Major-General, Commanding.

Headquarters Virginia Forces,
Richmond, Va.y May 10,1861.

Col. T. J. Jackson, Commanding, &c., Harper’s Ferry, Va.;

Colonel: Your letter of May 9th has just been received. The guns you refer to, intended for Maryland, have, I understand, been stopped by the governor. I wrote you to-day that two 32-pounders had been ordered to you. I fear you may have been premature in occupying the heights of Maryland with so strong a force near you. The true policy is to act on the defensive, and not invite an attack. If not too late, you might withdraw until the proper time. I have already suggested to you the probability of the use of the canal as a means of carrying ordnance and munitions from Washington to use against you. In that event it would be well to cut the supply dams to prevent its use. Ten cadets have been ordered to report to you, in addition to the ten now there.

Very respectfullv, &c.,

R. E. LEE,
Major- General, Commanding.