interests, inasmuch as his mature years, his military education, long experience as an officer of the army, his familiarity with the topography of Harper's Ferry and its vicinity, knowledge of the forces present and of the subsistence and ordnance stores on hand, and having placed the troops and guns according to the plan of defense which his judgment had dictated as the best, warranted the confidence reposed in him by the General-in-Chief, entitled him to the credit of whatever there might occur, in the defense of the place, of a meritorious character, and made him responsible for the proper execution of the trust confided to his hands. Had I exercised the prerogative which superior rank conferred, disregarding these important considerations, I should justly have been held responsible for whatever disaster subsequently befell the garrison and post of Harper's Ferry.
That, notwithstanding I declined to assume the command, I did not seek to avoid my proper duty in the field, but was diligent in my efforts to defend the position, consulted with and advised Colonel Miles according to the best of my judgment, recommending economy of ammunition and subsistence stores, advised sending the cavalry away, made other suggestions, some of which were adopted and others rejected, was personally present and in the discharge of my duty, during the engagements in the front on the 14th and 15th of September, and, generally, during the siege manifested an interest in the public service such as the commission I hold requires. (See the evidence of all the witnesses examined on this point, especially that of the brigade and regimental commanders, officers of batteries, the officers of Colonel Miles' staff, and that of Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, who led the cavalry out.)
That, prior to notifying Colonel Miles that I should not assume the command, I consulted with him as to his plan of defense, and suggested that Maryland Heights, from its commanding elevation and the heavy battery established there, was the key to the whole position; that it afforded the only feasible route for the escape of the command should evacuation become necessary, and ought to be held at all hazards, even if the entire force at his disposal should be required for its defense; that Colonel Miles concurred in these views, and gave me to understand they would be executed by him. (See evidence of Captain Curtis on this point.)
That the subsequent evacuation of Maryland Heights was wholly without my knowledge until some hours after its occurrence, being then on duty at the extreme left of the line on Bolivar Heights, and in no way connected with or responsible for that went, whether the same was justifiable or Numbers (See evidence of Captain Curtis and Thomas Noakes and Captain Mallory.)
That the evacuation of Maryland Heights was virtually the surrender of Harper's Ferry; but that thereafter there were two severe engagements with the enemy, the latter terminating only when the artillery ammunition had been expended, except canister short, the enemy at that time commanding the entire field, from nine batteries, to whose fire no response whatever could be made.
That the exceeding weakness of our line of defense, viz, seven regiments deployed upon a line over a mile in length, with no reserves, most of the troops raw recruits, and no possibility existing of forming a better line at that time, the surrender was justifiable - indeed, a necessity - the comparatively small number of killed and wounded having no bearing upon the question, inasmuch as many lives had been saved by keeping the troops under cover.
That further resistance would have been attended with great loss of life