CARLISLE BARRACKS, PA., April 20, 1861.
SIR: Immediately after finishing my dispatch of the night of the 18th instant, I received positive and reliable information that 2,500 or 3,000 State troops would reach Harper’s Ferry in two hours, from Winchester, and that the troops from Halltown, increased to 300 men, were advancing and were at that time (few minutes after 10 o’clock) within twenty minutes’ march of the Ferry. Under these circumstances I decided the time had arrived to carry out my determination, as expressed in the dispatch above referred to, and accordingly gave the order to apply the torch. In three minutes, or less, both of the arsenal buildings, containing nearly 15,000 arms, together with the carpenter’s shop, which was at the upper end of a long and connected series of workshops of the armory proper, were in a complete blaze.
There is every reason for believing the destruction was complete. After firing the buildings I withdrew my command, marching all night, and arrived here at 2 1/2 p. m. yesterday, where I shall await orders. Four men were missing on leaving the armory, and two deserted during the night.
Respectfully, I am, sir, your obedient servant,
First Lieut. Mounted Riflemen, Comdg. Detachment Recruits.
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.