War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0636 OPERATIONS IN N.VA., W.VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

HARPER'S FERRY, VA., May 31, 1862.

(Received 3.45 p.m.)

I was absent upon a reconnaissance when your dispatch came. Colonel Maulsby's regiment left their post when in a position to which I had assigned them, and moved down into the town of Harper's Ferry without any authority, and wished to cross the river to the Maryland side, away from the enemy. Colonel Miles, my chief of staff, ordered the colonel to take his regiment back to its position. He informed Colonel Miles and myself that he could not make his men go back that they were utterly demoralized, and he begged me to allow his regiment to cross the river. Convinced that they would be useless I told them to go, and left their place to a braver regiment. At the time this affair occurred the action of this regiment came near causing a panic while I was changing the position of the entire command by a night march. The entire occupation of my time since the affair occurred has prevented me from sending you a report of it sooner. The regiment has been in safe position since and has performed its required duty well. There are many brave men in the regiment, but I think the colonel lacks that force and energy of character necessary to the good commander. The regiment did not enlist to serve out of Maryland, which with some might be looked upon as an extenuation of their conduct.

R. SAXTON,

Brigadier-General.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

HARPER'S FERRY, 31st.

(Received 4.20 p.m.)

The enemy commenced their retreat last night soon after I shelled them from Battery Stanton, and their last company passed through Halltown about 9 o'clock this a.m. I am convinced that they had heard of McDowell's advance, and the attack last night at so unseasonable an hour was a last effort to break through our lines. I have learned that the signals which I mentioned in my last dispatch were made to General R. Taylor's brigade, which was advancing behind Loudoun Heights to cut off our line of communication.

There is no doubt but that the enemy fully expected to cut us off. His force is large and active. It is not best for me to follow him with my present force where he is driven back by Generals Fremont and McDowell. If I move out of my intrenchments he is strong enough the escape me in the open field.

I cannot speak too highly of the services of Lieutenant Daniels, U. S. Volunteers and his splendid rifled 9-inch Dahlgren. Both he and they did their work well. I have reliable information that fifty cannon passed through Charleston yesterday with the retreating army. The heaviest portion were with Taylor's brigade, from Loudoun County, which passed behind Loudoun Heights. Taylor impresses everybody, old and young, into service as he goes on. General McDowell has some work before him.

R. SAXTON,

Brigadier-General.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

(Copy sent General McDowell 5.55 p.m.)