carrying that formidable position. At the same time the troops upon that road were in better relation to the main body of our forces.
On the morning of the 14th a verbal message reached me from Colonel Miles, which was the first authentic intelligence I had received as to the condition of things at Harper's Ferry. The messenger informed me that on the preceding afternoon Maryland Heights had been abandoned by our troops, after repelling an attack of the rebels, and that Colonel Miles' entire force was concentrated at Harper's Ferry, the Maryland, Loudoun, and Bolivar Heights having been abandoned by him and occupied by the enemy. The messenger also stated that there was no apparent reason for the abandonment of the Maryland Heights, and that Colonel Miles instructed him to say that he could hold out with certainty two days longer. I directed him to make his way back if possible, with the information that I was approaching rapidly and felt confident I could relieve the place.
On the same afternoon I wrote the following letter to Colonel Miles, and dispatched three copies by three different couriers on different routes. I did not, however, learn that any of these men succeeded in reaching Harper's Ferry.
MIDDLETOWN, September 14, 1862.
Colonel D. S. Miles:
COLONEL: The army is being rapidly concentrated here. We are now attacking the pass on the Hagerstown road over the Blue Ridge. A column is about attacking the Burkittsville and Boonsborough Passes. You may count on our making every effort to relieve you. You may rely upon my speedily accomplishing that object. Hold out to the last extremity. If it is possible, reoccupy the Maryland Heights with your whole force. If you can do that, I will certainly be able to relieve you. As the Catoctin Valley is in our possession, you can safely cross the river at Berlin or its vicinity, so far as opposition on this side of the river is concerned. Hold out to the last.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
On the previous day I had sent General Franklin the following instructions:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Frederick, September 13, 1862-6.20 p. m.
Major General W. B. FRANKLIN,
Commanding Sixth Corps:
GENERAL: I have now full information as to movements and intentions of the enemy. Jackson has crossed the Upper Potomac to captures the garrison at Martinburg and cut off Miles' retreat toward the west. A division on the south side of the Potomac was to carry Loudoun Heights and cut off his retreat in that direction. McLaws, with his own command and the division of R. H. Anderson, was to move by Boonsborough and Rohrersville to carry the Maryland Heights. The signal officers inform me that he is now in Pleasant Valley. The firing shows that Miles still holds out. Longstreet was to move to Boonsborough and there halt with ;the reserve corps, D. H. Hill to form the rear guard, Stuart's cavalry to bring up stragglers, &c. We have cleared out all the cavalry this side of the mountains and north of us.
The last I heard from Pleasonton he occupied Middletown, after several sharp skirmishes. A division of Burnside's command started several hours ago to support him. The whole of Burnside's command, including Hooker's corps, march this evening and early to-morrow morning, followed by the corps of Sumner and Banks and Sykes' division, upon Boonsborough, to carry that position. Couch has been ordered to concentrate his division and join you as rapidly as possible. Without waiting for the whole of that division to join, you will move at daybreak in the morning, by Jefferson and Burkittsville, upon the road to Rohrersville. I have reliable information that the mountain pass by this road is practicable for artillery and wagons. If this pass is not occupied by the enemy in force, seize it as soon as practicable, and debouch upon Rohrersville, in order to cut off the retreat of or destroy McLaws' command. If you find this pass held by the enemy in large force, make all your dispositions for the attack, and commence it about half an hour after you hear severe firing at the pass on the Hagerstown pike, where the main body will attack. Having gained the pass, your duty will be first to cut off, destroy, or capture McLaws' command and relieve Colonel Miles. If you effect this, you will order him to join you at