Immediately after my arrival at Harper's Ferry, in a conversation with Colonel Miles as to his plan of defensive operations, he stated that his orders were to hold Harper's Ferry to the last extremity. I suggested that maryland Heights appeared to be the key to the position, and offered the only feasible line of retreat should that become necessary, as well as the most defensible position should it become necessary to concentrate the entire force at any one point, and that it should be defended at all hazard and with the entire force if necessary.
To this view he assented, and informed me he had erected defenses on the summit, the position of our naval battery being about half-way down the southwestern slope.
I was requested by him to assume the direction of affairs on the left of the line, at Bolivar Heights. So soon as I had heard of the evacuation of maryland Heights, I sought Colonel Mileds, as before stated, and proposed retaking the position. He informed me, however, that that heavy guns had been spiked and thrown down the mountain, and that the four brass field-pieces were spiked, the spokes cut from the wheels, and, therefore, they could not be removed and were utterly useless.
Without the heavy guns, which would have covered the crossing, the transfer of the forces across the Potomac was deemed by him impracticable.
The considerations which prompted me to concur in the judgment of the council of war, when the surrender was decided upon, were as follows:
1st. The loss of Maryland Heights and their occupancy by the enemy in a force greatly superior to our own intire force.
2d. The commanding officers of the batteries composed of our best guns reported their ammunition expended, except canister, &c., for short range.
3d. All hope of re-enforcement had departed, the firing during the engagements of major-General McClellans's forces with the enemy having, day by day, recede north westerly.
4th. The enemy in front, exclusive of his strength on Loudoun and maryland Heights, was double our own, the preponderance of available artillery being still grater.
5th. There appeared no good object to be attained by that sacrifice of life without a reasonable hope of success.
6th. The council of war was unanimous in the opinion that further resistance was useless.
I was verbally informed by Major McIlvaine, Colonel Miles' chief of artillery, that the post was forty-six pieces, exclusive of seven small guns, known as Ellsworth guns.
On Sunday night, the evening before the surrender, I proposed to sent to the front all the guns at Camp Hill (the interior work), and was informed there were neither horses nor harness to move them.
On Sunday afternoon I ordered the Twelfth New York Militia to be left front, to participate in the engagement. It was ordered back by Colonel Miles, as I am informed, on the ground that Camp Hill must be held by a part of our force. This position was protected on all sides by our outer line.
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.