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4 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas

Page 4 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.

about three or four miles from on the road to Charlestown, with the intention of seizing the Government property, and the last report is that the attack will be made to-night. I telegraphed this evening to General Scott that I had received information confirming his dispatch of this morning, and later to the Adjutant-General tht I expected an attack to-night. I have taken steps which ought to insure my receiving early intelligence of the advance of any forces, and my determination is to destroy what I cannot defend, and if the forces sent against me are clearly overwhelming, my present intention is to retreat into Pennsylvania.

The steps I have taken to destroy the arsenal, which contains nearly 15,000 stand of arms, are so complete that I can conceive of nothing that will prevent their entire destruction.

If the Government purposes maintaining its authority here, no time should be lost in sending large bodies of troops to my assistance, and as many of them as possible should be regulars.

A courier has just reported the advance of the troops from Halltown.

Respectfully, I am, sir, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant, Mounted Riflemen, Commanding.


Headquarters of the Army, Washington, D. C.

CHAMBERSBURG, April 19, 1861.

Finding my position untenable, shortly after 10 o'clock last night I destroyed the arsenal, containing 15,000 stand of arms, and burned up the armory building proper, and under cover of the night withdrew my command almost in the presence of twenty-five hundred or three thousand troops. This was accomplished with but four casualties. I believe the destruction must have been complete. I will await orders at Carlisle.



CARLISLE BARRACKS, PA., April 20, 1861.

SIR: Immediately after finishing my dispatch of the night of the 18th instant, I received positive and reliable information that 2,500 or 3,000 State troops would reach Harper's Ferry in two hours, from Winchester, and that the troops from Halltown, increased to 300 men, were advancing, and were at that time (few minutes after 10 o'clock) within twenty minutes' march of the Ferry. Under these circumstances I decided the time had arrived to carry out my determination, as expressed in the dispatch above referred to,m and accordingly gave the order to apply the torch. In three minutes, or less, both of the arsenal buildings, containing nearly 15,000 arms, together with the carpenter's shop, which was at the upper end of a long and connected series of workshops of the armory proper, were in a complete blaze.

There is every reason for believing the destruction was complete. After firing the buildings I withdrew my command, marching all night, and arrived here at 2 1/2 p. m. yesterday, where I shall await orders. Four

Page 4 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.