petent officer in command, Colonel Ford, himself, not appearing nor designating any one who might have restored order and encouraged the men. That the abandonment of the heights was premature is clearly proven. Our forces were not driven from the field, as full time was given to spike the guns and throw the heavier ones down the precipice, and retreat in good order to Harper's Ferry. The loss in killed and wounded does not indicate a desperate conflict, and the opinion of officers sustaining that abandonment is weakened by the fact that the next day a force returning to the heights found them unoccupied, and brought away, unmolested, four abandoned guns and a quantity of ammunition.
In so grave a case as this, with such disgraceful consequences, the Commission cannot permit an officer to shield himself behind the fact that he did as well as he could, if in so doing he exhibits a lack of military capacity. It is clear to the Commission that Colonel Ford should not have been placed in command on Maryland Heights; that he conducted the defense without ability, and abandoned his position with out sufficient cause, and has shown throughout such a lack of military capacity as to disqualify him, in the estimation of this Commission, for a command in the service.
Colonel D. S. MILES.
The Commission has approached a consideration of this officer's conduct, in connection with the surrender of Harper's Ferry, with extreme reluctance. An officer who cannot appear before any earthly tribunal to answer or explain charges gravely affecting his character, who has met his death at the hands of the enemy, even upon the spot he disgracefully surrendered, is entitled to the tenderest care and most careful investigation. These this Commission has accorded Colonel Miles, and, in giving an opinion, only repeats what runs through our nine hundred pages of evidence, strangely unanimous upon the fact that Colonel Miles' incapacity, amounting to almost imbecility, led to the shameful surrender of this important post.
Early as the 15th of August he disobeys orders of Major-General Wool to fortify Maryland Heights. When it is attacked by the enemy, its naturally strong position are unimproved, and, from his criminal neglect, to use the mildest term, the large force of the enemy is almost upon an equality with the few men he throws out for their protection.
He seemed to have understood and admitted to his officers that Maryland Heights was the key to the position, and yet he placed Colonel Ford in command with a feeble force; made no effort to strengthen him by fortifications, although, between the 5th and the 13th of September, there was ample time to do so; and to Colonel Ford's repeated demands for means to intrench and re-enforcements to strengthen the position, he made either inadequate return or no response at all. He gave Colonel Ford discretionary power as to when he would abandon the heights, the fact of the abandonment having, it seems, been determined on in his own mind, for, when the unhappy event really occurred, his only exclamations were to the effect that he feared Colonel Ford had given them up too soon. This, too, when he must have known that the abandonment of Maryland Heights was the surrender of Harper's Ferry. This leaving the key of the position to the keeping of Colonel Ford, with discretionary power, after the arrival of the capable and courageous officer who had waived his rank to serve wherever ordered, is one of the more striking facts illustrating the utter incapacity of Colonel Miles.