CHAMBERSBURG, PA., June 14, 1861.
DEAR COLONEL: To-morrow morning our force will be in Hagerstown, located as indicated in the accompanying map. Every effort has been made to press forward, and the move to-morrow is a strained one. Every wagon we could get is engaged with the front column, except twelve employed here taking baggage to the trains. We could not hire teams here, and as far as I see here the people are just as willing to be employed by the foe as by us if it would be safe ans would pay. Our one-horse railroad does not permit much work. By Sunday night I hope the main work will be over and the force in Hagerstown, and the track open to the trains coming in with supplies.
To-day many reports have come to us to the effect that the enemy is evacuating Harper's Ferry. Persons sometimes circulate such to induce us to press on to the trap. Our own spies do not confirm them. Though I have been engaged night and day in the office, and have no intelligent assistants in a military point of view or cognizant of the workings of the staff, I have succeeded in inspecting the regiments here, and to so organize the brigades as to make them the most effective. In each are some riflemen, good marksmen, though the regiments are mainly armed with smooth bore muskets. Till I came here I could not get from any one of them the kind of arm in possession, nor the caliber, nor a solitary requisition for anything. I have had to order each individual article generally before I came here, and to push the articles forward. I have had to play ordnance officer, assistant adjutant-general, commander of the forces, inspector, quartermaster-everything. Now all branches have got to working well, except that pat of the quartermaster's department embraced in transportation. A kingdom for a few horses or mules would be my cry if I had a kingdom. I do wish our force to be the first to enter Harper's Ferry, but rather than make a false step and lose by it or be checked, I shall be content to be last. Our force is an imposing one to all else outside the ring.
The heavy battery will probably be here on Sunday night or in Hagerstown. The Fourth Artillery battery has not yet arrived at Carlisle, though believed to be on the way. Harness not heard from or of. By the time that battery reaches Hagerstown we will be ready. Our force will be advanced immediately, and a position assumed which will permit the camps to be abandoned to a guard and the force move on. We will soon have a telegraph established to Hagerstown this way. The one through Frederick cannot be trusted. We will soon see other work.
Write to Stone to-night, telling him what we will do, and that at the proper time we wish him to move up, according to his judgment and information, either towards Frederick or Leesburg. You think us slow, but if you and the General were here you would think otherwise, and that we have accomplished much. The enemy have cut off all avenues of approach. The deserters give various accounts, and I believe in some cases they have been sent here to deceive. They gained no information.
I send you sketches of Berkeley County. Cannot get one of Jefferson. The Maryland Heights were re-enforced on Wednesday by about 3,000 men; whether to coerce the Kentuckians or not, can't say, or to cover a movement in rear. They have tried several times to induce us to cross and get whipped.
F. J. PORTER,
Major, and A. A. G.