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Burning of the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, April 1861

1861 April 18: Harper’s Ferry Armory published in the April 24, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star.

Carlisle, Pa., April 18.
Lieut. Jones late in command at Harper’s Ferry, arrived here with his command of 43 men at 3 P.M. to day.

Lieut. Jones having been advised that a force of 2,500 troops had been ordered by Gov. Letcher to take possession of Harper’s Ferry, and finding his position untenable, under direction of the War Department, he destroyed all the munitions of war, armory, and all the buildings.  He withdrew his command under cover of night and almost in the presence of 2,500 troops.

He lost three men and 15,000 stand of arms were destroyed.  The command made a forced march last night thirty miles from Harper’s Ferry to Hagerstown, Maryland.  Lieut. Jones looked much fatigued.  They were most enthusiastically received by the whole population.1

1.  Virginia passed their ordnance of secession on April 17, 1861, and the Harpers Ferry Armory became an immediate target for the Confederates. Lieut. Roger Jones (1831-1889) of the U.S. Army “defended the Armory on the evening of April 18, 1861, with 50 regulars and 15 volunteers. In nearby Charles Town several companies of Virginia militia—360 men in all—assembled and advanced toward Harpers Ferry. Jones, outnumbered and unable to obtain reinforcements, set torches to the Armory and Arsenal buildings before retreating across the Potomac River. Further destruction will come with Confederate occupation of Harpers Ferry in the spring of 1861. Southern forces confiscated the Armory’s ordnance stock, machinery, and tools before burning many of the remaining Armory buildings. By war’s end, only the Armory’s fire engine and guard house will remain intact.” (See the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park website for more information.) Jones will eventually become Inspector General of the U.S. Army, 1888-1889.

 Source:  "1861 April 18: Harper’s Ferry Armory" published in the April 24, 1861, issue of The Hudson North Star, Reissued by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Archive,  April 18, 2011

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Record Details

Title: Burning of the United States Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, April 1861


Print shows the arsenal at Harper's Ferry in flames as soldiers and citizens carry away to safety the munitions that were stored there.

Civil War HMI Box 1

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