C.W. Whitehair Talk at the Manassas Museum
September 18, 2012 by inReads
Author C.W. Whitehair will recount the daring 1862 escape of Union forces from Harpers Ferry during a free Book Talk at The Manassas Museum on September 23 at 2 p.m.
Whitehair’s book, Escape Across The Potomac, tells the story of the September night when 14,000 Union soldiers at Harpers Ferry, Virginia were surrounded on three sides by 23,000 Confederate soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Among the Union soldiers were cavalrymen who realized that if they surrendered with over 12,000 infantrymen and artillerymen, their horses, equipment, and weapons would be valuable to Major General Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalrymen. That is when they hatched a daring escape plan. As one soldier from the 12th Illinois wrote and Whitehair recounted in his book, “The enemy was believed to be in strong force on the road chosen, and there were unknown dangers to be met.”
Cavalry commander Colonel Benjamin F. “Grimes” Davis, guided by the 1st Maryland Cavalry and a civilian scout, led 1,500 men across the Potomac River on a pontoon bridge and then up the “John Brown Road” toward Sharpsburg. The Confederates had withdrawn their troops guarding the Sharpsburg Road, and the Cavalry pressed on undetected, capturing a 91-wagon Confederate ammunition train and reaching safety in Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
The cavalry’s success was not matched by their comrades. Surrounded by a force twice the size of their own and out of long-range artillery ammunition, the remaining Union troops surrendered at Harpers Ferry. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops captured over 12,700 Union troops, the largest single capture of Federal forces during the entire war.
Whitehair used the accounts of various diaries, letters, and newspaper articles in his book. Included in the work are reports from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, civilian memoirs, and period photographs of soldiers and locations.
Whitehair is a Civil War reenactor, has served as a volunteer Historical Interpreter for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, has written for various Civil War publications, and has written two historical novels and the book Gettysburg: The Field of Glory. He is a frequent lecturer at historic sites across the region and is also a direct descendent of Israel Russell, one of the last nine hostages held by John Brown during his Harpers Ferry raid in October, 1859.
Escape Across The Potomac is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store. The September 23 Book Talk is free.
About The Author:
Reading and writing in DC.