Harper’s Ferry Abandoned

June 15, 2011 | Civil War 150th

The burned bridge with Harper’s Ferry in the background

150 years ago yesterday Joseph E. Johnston of the Confederacy evacuated Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, retreating before Robert’s Patterson’s Army of the Shenandoah. In this theater of the war, there were four main armies. The Union had one army under Gen. McDowell stationed near Washington, and another under Gen. Patterson at the head of the Shenandoah Valley. Their plan was to invade Virginia. Gen. Johnston commanded the Confederate army facing Patterson, and Gen. Beuregard commanded the other army facing McDowell.

The same bridge pillars today

Harper’s Ferry was a very strategic point in the Civil War. It was at the junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and it is at the head of the Shenadoah Valley. It changed hands eight times during the Civil War. It was abandoned by the Union troops and occupied by Johnston, and now he was retreating in the face of Patterson’s superior forces.

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