Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 28.djvu/65
The taking of Harper's Ferry was the first object that presented itself to our minds, and when, on Wednesday, Captain Duke re- turned from Richmond with authority to take 300 men to Harper's Ferry, our two companies, with the " Albemarle Rifles," Captain Duke, and the " Monticello Guards," Captain Mallory, from Char- lottesville, offered our services. We immediately got ready, and that night, when the train from Staunton, with the " West Augusta Cuards," the " Mountain Guards," and Imboden's Battery, from Augusta county, came along, we joined them and went on to Har- per's Ferry, taking up different volunteer companies all along the railroad, until, when we reached Strasburg about 12 o'clock Thurs- day, where we had to " take it afoot," our force was quite formidable, numbering some eight or ten companies, of seventy to eighty men each, and a battery of four pieces. We marched from Strasburg to Winchester, eighteen miles, between i o'clock and 8, pretty good marching, considering it was our first effort; wagons were along to carry the little baggage we had, and to relieve us, but most of the men marched the whole way. We stopped in Winchester only long enough to take supper, supping at different private houses, the citi- zens welcoming us with lavish hospitality, tho' some, not knowing that the movement was authorized by Governor Letcher as it had not then been publicly made known that Virginia had seceded thought it was a move of the self-constituted Secession Convention, which had met in Richmond on Tuesday, April i6th, and the fact of which meeting, I think, helped to hurry up our laggard Convention to do what it ought to have done two months before. I, and many others, supped that night with my friend, David Barton, Jr., who had volunteered from the University for this special service, not be- ing a regular member of our company, the " Southern Guard." He has since gone to his God, where wars will never trouble him more, having been killed in the first battle of Fredericksburg, December I3th, '62.
About 9 o'clock we all started on the train for Harper's Ferry, only thirty-two miles distant, but such was the slowness of the train and the uncertainty of the commanding officers as to what force we should find at the Ferry, that we did not reach there until 4 o'clock the next morning, about six hours after Lieutenant Jones, of the United States Army, with his handful of men, had burnt the Armory buildings and retreated towards Carlisle, Pa. We learnt that some of the Clarke and Jefferson companies had gotten in the neighbor-