HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ARMORY,
Harper’s Ferry, Va., April 18, 1861–9 p. m.
SIR: Up to the present time no assault or attempt to seize the Government property here has been made, but there is decided evidence that the subject is in contemplation, and has been all day, by a large number of people living in the direction of Charlestown; and at sundown this evening several companies of troops had assembled at Halltown, about three or four miles from here on the road to Charlestown, with the intention of seizing the Government property, and the last report is that the attack will be made to-night. I telegraphed this evening to General Scott that I had received information confirming his dispatch of this morning, and later to the Adjutant-General that I expected an attack tonight. I have taken steps which ought to insure my receiving early intelligence of the advance of any forces, and my determination is to destroy what I cannot defend, and if the forces sent against me are clearly overwhelming, my present intention is to retreat into Pennsylvania.
The steps I have taken to destroy the arsenal, which contains nearly 15,000 stand of arms, are so complete that I can conceive of nothing that will prevent their entire destruction.
If the Government purposes maintaining its authority here, no time should be lost in sending large bodies of troops to my assistance, and as many of them as possible should be regulars.
A courier has just reported the advance of the troops from Halltown.
Respectfully, I am, I sir, your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, Mounted Riflemen, Commanding.
To the ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
Headquarters of the Army, Washington, D. C.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.