After "Stonewall" Jackson defeated Nathaniel Banks' Federal army in the Shenandoah Valley at Front Royal, May 23, 1862, and Winchester, May 25, 1862, Jackson began a northward movement to expel the last remaining Federal force in the Lower Shenandoah Valley: the garrison at Harpers Ferry that consisted of 8,000 men under the temporary command of Brigadier General Rufus B. Saxton.
|Rufus B. Saxton (generalsandbrevets.com)|
Saxton was assigned to the post on May 25 due to the growing fear in Washington that Jackson's move would threaten the Northern capital. Along with Saxton, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton rushed reinforcements to Harpers Ferry using the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The most notable reinforcements in this episode of Jackson's Valley Campaign were 300 sailors from the USS Satellite, which was stationed in the Washington Navy Yard at the time of the crisis. These sailors would also bring three 9-inch Dahlgren guns with them to aid in the Ferry's defense. Saxton moved these guns halfway up the slope of Maryland Heights and established what is now known as the Naval Battery. These guns would be able to check any attack that Jackson made against Saxton's line on Bolivar Heights west of Harpers Ferry.
|Modern view of the Naval Battery|