War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0596 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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position, which, as you so wisely suggested, is our main reliance. I deem the force at present under command of Colonel Ford amply sufficient; but am most willing to dispose of any of my regiments, should you so desire, and consider it needful. Feeling proud of the confidence you have shown in me, I can assure you you will find me at my post, as you found me at Bull Run, when first under your command.

The day after, I received this small scrap:

Colonel D'UTASSY:

Send a regiment to Maryland Heights immediately; ammunition, one or two days' rations, canteens, quick.


Colonel, Second Division.

On the day the heights were evacuated I went down to Colonel Miles and asked him, "How is it possible that those heights were evacuated?" The evening before General White was down, as we were speaking of what our facilities would be if we had to withdraw, and General White, as well as myself, suggested the plan to draw our forces over the pontoon bridge and hold Maryland Heights. Colonel Miles said, "As a matter of course; it is the only chance we have." At that time we believed we were to be attacked in front. In consequence, I wrote this letter to General White, immediately after the evacuation of Maryland Heights:

HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, Harper's Ferry, September 13, 1862.

Brigadier General JULIUS WHITE:

MY DEAR SIR: May I ask you, semi-officially, how and why it is that the position on Maryland Heights, which, in my opinion, as well as that of highly experienced officers, was almost impregnable, and which Colonel Miles himself told me was his main reliance, as it commands Bolivar and Loudoun Heights, and, as matter of course, the whole valley, has been abandoned? I am informed by commanding officers of the different regiments lately across the river, that, after a successful shelling from the battery, the enemy in Maryland had entirely disappeared. The enemy is now distinctly visible on Loudoun Heights. I suppose, at least, that the force to be seen there is the enemy. From whom am I to expect orders, as no one is here, nor do I know where to find Colonel Miles? Am I authorized to act according to the dictates of my own judgment? A written reply will greatly oblige, your sincere friend,


Commanding First Brigade.

This letter was returned to me with the following indorsement:

Deference to General Wool has alone prevented me from taking command here. Colonel D'Utassy will use his own discretion until he gets positive orders. This post will not be surrendered without a fight.



I wrote that letter in consequence of the enemy having made an attack on my right flank, where two companies of the Thirty-ninth Regiment were out as skirmishers. I there lost 4 killed and 15 wounded. The day after, General White sent for me, between 11 and 12 o'clock at night. It was at Colonel Trimble's. He said, "What is your opinion? What do you think we can do?" I said, "Nothing but fight." He then said, "Well, make your arrangements accordingly." And he told me to give the following orders: "We will probably be attacked to-morrow at daybreak. Have the canteens filled this very night; rations cooked for twenty-four hours, and the men to be ready to fall in." That order was issued and the men were ready and prepared. The following day General White came up and inspected our brigade. We then had already been attacked.

Question. What, in your judgment, was the necessity for the evacuation of Maryland Heights at the time it occurred?

Answer. I could not form any judgment or give you any opinion about it, as I was not there. I know one thing, that I was greatly surprised, and from the moment of the evacuation I looked upon it as a forlorn position, because it had been agreed that that was to be our line of retreat, and I made the offer to retake the position, as I considered it such an eminent position.

Question. What was the reply made to your offer to retake the heights?

Answer. Colonel Miles said, "Well, we must see; I will first see Colonel Ford, and near why he abandoned it." The next day, when I again asked permission to do it, he said, "Damn it; they have spiked the guns; it is of no use." Then I went over on my own responsibility with four companies and brought down all the gunpowder for heavy artillery which was there, and four guns, of which two only were spiked; the other two only had a nail in, which was of no consequence.