War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0776 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

Search Civil War Official Records

without a reasonable hope of resisting even for a half hour the assault which the enemy were then advancing to make. (See evidence of all witnesses examined on this point.)

That the surrender was proposed by Colonel Miles; that, on my recommendation, his brigade commanders were called together prior to deciding a question of such grave importance; that the opinion of the council of war was unanimous that further resistance was not only useless, but would be a criminal waste of life, and that surrender was a duty.

That the post and garrison were not surrender until after a bombardment of two days, nor until the ammunition with which to respond to the enemy's fire was entirely expended, and therefore was not ignominious in its character, but a military misfortune, wholly unavoidable after the evacuation of Maryland Heights. (See evidence of Colonels Trimble and D'Utassy, Willard, Sammon, Segoine, battery captains, & c., Captain Curtis, Major McIlvaine, and others.)

That the escape of the command from Harper's Ferry was impracticable, certainly after the evacuation of Maryland Heights. Some witnesses have thought it feasible, but with one exception these witnesses were wholly ignorant of the road and country over which, if at all, the escape could have been made; while the officer who headed the cavalry which escaped, the guide who conducted it, as well as many prominent officers of the garrison express a contrary opinion. It would have consumed the entire night to have crossed the Potomac, so that when daylight appeared we should have been in full view of the enemy; the troops were inexperienced, and, under such circumstances, a retreat would doubtless have become a rout. One witness (Major Russell), who escaped with a few of his command on Saturday night, who is perfectly familiar with the country and with the position of the enemy, stated that it would have been much easier for General Franklin's corps to have fought their way into Harper's Ferry in time for the relief of the post than for the garrison to have cut their way out; but if escape had been possible, it has been shown that Colonel Miles refused always to entertain such a proposition, clinging to the hope of relief from General McClellan's forces, and referring invariably to his orders commanding him to hold the post to the last extremity, which he considered imperative and refused to violate by a retreat. (See evidence of Colonel D'Utassy, Colonel Cameron, Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, Major McIlvaine, Thomas Noakes.)

The evidence further shows that whatever errors I committed, if any, were not the result of pusillanimity, but of respect for the authorities who placed Colonel Miles in command and issued the orders under which he was acting.

In conclusion, I further state that none of my friends have been asked to write newspaper paragraphs exculpatory of my conduct, or to bespeak official intervention in my behalf. I have come before this tribunal, I trust, as a soldier should, relying upon the facts for my justification, with an abiding faith in the intelligence and justice of its members.

The commission I have the honor to hold in the military service of my country was given me for services rendered on the field. I hope it will be found unsoiled by improper conduct and in trustworthy hands.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JULIUS WHITE,

Brigadier-General U. S. Volunteers.

Major General D. HUNTER,

President of the Commission.