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Savannah Georgia

May 20, 1888

I. R. Pennypacker

Editor Phil Weekly Press

Dear Sir

What is the matter with the document I sent, relating to the Maryland Campaign of 1862? I have nothing from you relative to it, not even, that it has been rec.

I took it for granted that “Politic,” or the war now being carried on, between the parties representing “Protection for protection’s” sake! and “Protection incidental on[?] revenue,” requires so much attention that the past war is a very small matter in comparison.

But the Campaign now on font [?] is as much of a war as was the one called “The War of the Rebellion.” We have armies enlisted on each side, which go as ordered by their respective leaders, with any little idea of the merits or demerits [?] of the questions really at issue, as did any armies in the field. You practice all the arts of strategy, make false attacks to conceal the real one, have the same troubles regular armies have in getting supplies of ammunition and provisions and arms, and in all things, you act as if it was real war, excepting that you do not kill with the sword, or with the gunpowder, or the bayonet - but his devastation is nevertheless just as great, and the Conqueror cares as little for the suffering he caused, as did the victorious General.

In my paper I aimed to prove by quotations from documents officially published that after due consideration by Gen Halleck, commander in chief, of the question. “Shall all the troops now in Harper’s Ferry be ordered to the Maryland Heights.” This on 5h Sep, 1882. He submitted it for the action of Gen Wool who commanded the Department in which Harper’s Ferry was included, and Gen Wool ordered Col Miles to hold Harper’s Ferry to the last extremity. by this order, he deprived Col Miles of all discretion in the matter; he was to defend Harper’s Ferry, and every other position was subordinate to it. By occupying the Heights he most certainly could not have prevented Genl Jackson from occupying the town. For illustration, read what was done at Fredericksburg when Burnside occupied the Heights on the opposite side of the Rappahanock, with a much more numerous Arty [artillery?], and under much more favorable circumstances. The Arty [sic] then had no effect against the occupation of the town. Not one foot being abandoned because of the Arty (artillery?) fire.

I also aimed to show that in obedience to his orders, Col Miles did hold the town and all may say “to the last extremity,” because[?] the universal testimony was in his official publications “that the troops could not have withstood an assault!. at any rate he held it long enough, to have enabled Gen McLellan and Gen Franklin to have moved their troops, so as to have enabled Miles to have attacked Gen Lees scattered forces, in detail each by largely[?] superior forces[?] of arms[?].

That the opportunity to do this was given, and was not taken advantage of, but was lost by inaction!

I also showed, or attempted it, that at Sharpsburg, every portion of the Confederate force was engaged - their tremendous losses, in each and every command, and compound it with the numbers they had in the battle, show that there was no man in reserve, whereas the reviews[?] I quote show that in the reserve [under Genl Lee?] said to be 15000 strong + Franklin’s corp the losses were so small, that we are authorized in saying that [they?] were not heavily engaged+ might be looked on as reserve forces.And this reserve [numbered?] was more than the Confederates had in line[?] at any one time. For scattered bodies arriving one after another, to at once be ordered into the fight.

So that it seems as if the inaction still continued and every opportunity which would bear taken advantage of was lost.

It requires free quotations from official reports to make this credible. And it also requires very full extracts to make it credible, that Col Miles did not have a war with him, who prevailed against the surrender of Harper’s Ferry, and urged that his troops start an assault.

For the above reason, and because I know his public opinion is not in accord with the views I have taken, I thought it best to make large quotations from official publications, so that the public, or the large majority, of them who read, who cannot get this information for themselves, may form their own opinions, from official data given them,

But if you think that mere reference is sufficient to change public opinion, as I think it must be changed, if we really are making the point, I am willing to rewrite my article and endeavor to conform to your needs.

Very respectfully

Your obtsv

L McLaws

Creation Date





Chatham County




United States

Creator Life Dates



Lafayette McLaws, Maryland Campaign, Sharpsburg

Date Digital


Document Type



Military History | Political History | Social History | United States History

Letter: Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, May 20, 1888