War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0798 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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Of the subordinate officers referred to in this case, with the exception of Colonel Thomas H. Ford, the Commission finds nothing in their conduct that calls for censure. On the contrary, General Julius White merits its approbation. He appears from the evidence to have acted with decided capability and courage.

In this connection the Commission calls attention to the disgraceful behavior of the One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Infantry, and recommend that Major Baird, for his bad conduct, as shown by the evidence, should be dismissed the service. Some of the officers of this regiment, Lieutenant Barras, acting adjutant, and other, not known by name to the Commission, behaved gallantly, and should be commended.


In the case of Colonel Ford, charge with improper conduct in abandoning Maryland Heights, the Commission, after a careful hearing of the evidence produced by the Government, and that relied on by the defense, and a due consideration of the arguments offered by counsel, finds:

That on the 5th of September Colonel Ford was placed in command of Maryland Heights by Colonel Miles; that Colonel Ford, finding the position unprepared by fortifications, earnestly urged Colonel Miles to furnish him means by which the heights could be made tenable for the small force under his command should a heavy one be brought against him. These reasonable demands were, from some cause unknown to the Commission, not responded to by the officer in command of Harper's Ferry; that subsequently, when the enemy appeared in heavy force, Colonel Ford frequently and earnestly called upon Colonel Miles for more troops, representing that he could not hold the heights unless reenforced; that these demands were feebly, or not at all, complied with; that, as late as the morning of the 13th of September, Colonel Ford sent two written demands to Colonel Miles for re-enforcements, and saying that, with the troops then under his command, he could not hold the heights, and, unless relieved or otherwise ordered, he would have to abandon them; that, as late as 11 o'clock a. m. of the 13th, a few hours previous to the abandonment of this position, Colonel Miles said to Colonel Ford that he (Colonel Ford) could not have another man, and must do the best he could; and, if unable to defend the place, he must spike the guns, throw them down the hill, and withdraw to Harper's Ferry in good order.

The Commission is, the, satisfied that Colonel Ford was given a discretionary power to abandon the heights or not, as his better judgment might dictate, with the men and means then under his command; and it is believed from the evidence, circumstantial and direct, that the result did not, to any great extent, surprise, nor in any way displease, the officer in command at Harper's Ferry.

But this conclusion, so much relied upon by the defense, forces the Commission to consider the fact: Did Colonel Ford, under the discretionary power thus vested in him, make a proper defense of the heights, and hold them, as he should have don,e until driven off by the enemy?

The evidence shows conclusively that the force upon the heights was not well managed; that the point most pressed was weakly defended as to numbers, and, after the wounding of the gallant colonel of the One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Infantry, it was left without a com