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Pvt J L Bartlett's Official Report

Report of September 14, 1862 on Harpers Ferry

[author biography]

September 14, 1862.

My signal-flag was up at daylight, and my glass bearing on Loudon Heights after sunrise. Major Paxton sent the following: "Artillery coming up the road to be repaired." Before delivering this message I asked "What artillery and what road?" Major Paxton answered "Walker's, and up mountains." About 10 a. m. comes another dispatch from Loudoun Heights: "Walker has his six rifle pieces in position. Shall he wait for McLaws?" General Jackson answers "Wait."

General Jackson and Colonel Smead then come to signal station, and the general dictates the following:

SUNDAY, September 14, 1862.

Generals McLAWS and WALKER:

If you can, establish batteries to drive the enemy from the hill west of Bolivar and on which Barbour's house is, and any other position where he may be damaged by your artillery, and let me know when you are ready to open your batteries, and give me any suggestions by which you can operate against the enemy. Cut the telegraph line down the Potomac if it is not already done. Keep a good lookout against a Federal advance from below. Similar instructions will be sent to General Walker. I do not desire any of the batteries to open until all are ready on both sides of the river, except you should find it necessary, of which you must judge for yourself. I will let you know when to open all the batteries.

Major-General, Commanding.

P. S. -- If you have not rations, take steps at once to supply yourself; have beef driven to your command, so that you may have enough.

T. J. J.

General Jackson and staff then go to the left. I received soon after the following:

General McLaws informs me that the enemy are in his rear, and that he can do but little more than he has done. I am now ready to open.

General WALKER.

There being no courier at the post, I carry this message to the general, and find him in front on the left. He gives me an answer, and sends Lieutenant Douglas back to signal station with me:

General WALKER:

Do not open until General McLaws notifies me what he can probably effect. Let me know what you can effect with your command upon the enemy.

General JACKSON.

Also -

General MCLAWS:

Let me know what you can probably effect with your artillery, and also with your entire command. Notify General D. H. Hill at Middleburg, of the enemy's position, and request him to protect your rear. Send the same message to General Lee, near Hagerstown.

General JACKSON.

The messages next in order came from Loudoun Heights:

General JACKSON:

Walker cannot get position to bear on island.

(No signature; probably from Major Paxton.)

General JACKSON:

I am informed that the enemy are advancing by Purcellville, and have possession of the passes from the valley.

General WALKER.

Generals WALKER and McLAWS:

Fire at such positions of the enemy as will be most effective.

General JACKSON.

Our artillery opens from this side in front of Bolivar; Walker opens from Loudoun Heights, and Yankees are seen coming down on west side of Bolivar to escape Walker's fire, but meet an equal one from our artillery on the left of our line.

No. --

September 14, 1862.

I. To-day Major-General McLaws will attack so as to sweep with his artillery the ground occupied by the enemy, take his batteries in reverse, and otherwise operate against him, as circumstances may justify.

II. Brigadier-General Walker will take in reverse the battery on the turnpike, and also sweep with his artillery the ground occupied by the enemy, and silence the battery on the island in the Shenandoah should he find a battery there.

III. Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill will move along the left bank of the Shenandoah, and thus turn the enemy's left flank and enter Harper's Ferry.

IV. Brigadier-General Lawton will move along the turnpike for the purpose of supporting General Hill and otherwise operating against the enemy on the left of General Hill.

V. Brigadier-General Jones will, with one of his brigades and a battery of artillery, make a demonstration against the enemy's right; the remaining part of his division will constitute the reserve and move along the turnpike.

By order of Major-General Jackson:

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

If any other dispatches or orders were sent at Harper's Ferry it was done at other posts than mine. Messages were doubtless sent from Loudoun Heights to Maryland Heights between Generals McLaws and Walker. Captain Adams, who was the only commissioned signal officer there, has doubtless full reports of those and all the messages and orders, it being his duty to keep them. I suggest that he be applied to for them.


P. S. -- After the surrender of Harper's Ferry I was ordered by Major Paxton to remove my station to Barbour's house. I did so after notifying Captain Adams' post, on Loudoun Heights, of the move, telling them to look out for my flag at that point. After locating my station at that place, however, and waving my flag for several hours, I could not get attention from Loudoun Heights to send a message, sent to me by Major Paxton, for General Walker to prepare rations and be ready to march. I afterward learned that the post had been evacuated at that time. Thus ended the signal service at Harper's Ferry.


Source: OR1


1   This report is preceded in the OR by the title "Report of Capt. J. L. Bartlett, Signal Officer, C. S. Army, of operations about Harper's Ferry, W. Va.". Bartlett was never a Captain in the Confederate Signal Corps. He was probably a particularly capable Private detailed to signal service.
US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Vol. 19/Part 1 (Ser #27), pp. 958-959  [AotW citation 194]


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