Tomorrow morning at dawn, America's bloodiest day began 146 years
ago to the day.
Monday was the 146th anniversary of the surrender, to MG T J
Jackson, of the US Army garrison at Harper's Ferry. At the time,
and until the surrender of the garrison on Bataan during the
early days of the US involvement in World War II, it was the
largest surrender of any single organized portion of the United
Now, given the fact that, about nine months later, when the ANVa
marched north into Pennsylvania, Harper's Ferry was left
unmolested (and it was still in Lee's "rear" as he advanced), I
have some questions about Lee's decision to allocate resources,
as delineated in SO 191, to Harper's Ferry:
1. Would a decision by Lee to _not_ devote almost two thirds of
the effective strength of the ANVa to reduction of Harper's Ferry
in September 1862 made a difference in that campaign?
2. Would such a decision, i.e., to leave Harper's Ferry and
Martinsburg US garrisons alone (and I fail to see what impact the
two garrisons could have had, on their own, against the ANVa in
any case) have necessitated the dictation and promulgation of SO
3. Would there still have been a SO191 but radically different
from what we now know it?
4. Also, without having to devote resources to Harper's Ferry,
would SO191 have clearly indicated not only the immediate advance
of the ANVa but also possibly some longer term goals of the
advance into Pennsylvania?
IIRC, in his letter to President Davis on 4 September 1862 sent
from Leesburg, Lee does mention the possibility of moving the
ANVa into Pennsylvania depending on how the campaign develops.
I realize I might be asking a "what if" or "counter-factual"
question here, but that is not really my intent. I am trying to
understand why, if in September 1862 Harper's Ferry being held by
US Army forces was considered so important by Lee to devote
substantial portions of the ANVa strength to eliminating it as a
possible/probably threat, the same location again with a US Army
garrison, was ignored in late June 1863 when the ANVa was moving
north towards Pennsylvania?
Thanks for all your thoughts.
Yr. Obt. Svt.
G E "Gerry" Mayers
To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
the Almighty God. --Anonymous