Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today in Civil War History

Just a quick blog about an unusual event in the Civil War. This event offically began on September 13, 1862 after the Army of Northern Virginia began its invasion of Maryland. Lee's army had pushed the Army of the Potomac away from Richmond during the Seven Day's Campaign of June-July 1862. The following month the Confederates easily defeated General John Pope's army at Second Manassas. Flush with victory, Lee believed that one more win against the Union army would give the Confederacy the foreign help that they needed to win. However, to protect his supply line and flanks Lee had to capture Harpers Ferry.

The town of Harpers Ferry had been a supply depot and a place of importance because of John Browns Raid in 1859. Lee dispatched Stonewall Jackson and his men to sieze the town and the heights that surrounded it. General Jackson's men occupied the stregigic heights after the Union forces under Colonel Dixon Miles abondoned them without a fight. By September 15th, Jackson had his cannon trained on the Union garrision and he ordered the bombardment to begin.

Federal forces surrendered on the same day after Colonel Miles realized that Jacksons forces would overrun the garrision easily. The siege of Harpers Ferry gave the Confederacy 12,520 prisoners, 73 artillery pieces and a great deal of supplies. It was a great success but before the Confederates could enjoy the fruits of their victory a message reached General Jackson. The Army of the Potomac had arrived just outside Lee's defensive position near a small creek called Antietam. Jackson left men under General A.P. Hill to mop up any work that existed after the sucessful siege and quickly marched to join Lee. On September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg began. It would be the bloodiest day in the history of the war that almost crushed the Army of Northern Virginia forever. This is due to Lee's stregigic boldness in the fact of a superior enemy but Harpers Ferry had to be take in order to protect his army. Lee's invasion of Maryland could be deemed a failure except for the siege of the small town where the war truely began.
Rickard, J (16 May 2007), Siege of Harper’s Ferry, 13-15 September 1862 ,

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