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Bolivar Heights witnessed more battle action than any other location at Harpers Ferry. The first battle of the Civil War at Harpers Ferry occurred at Bolivar Heights on October 16, 1861, exactly two years after the commencement of the John Brown Raid. Alarmed by Union forces in the new Confederacy, especially along the Potomac River, a Confederate force under Col. Confederate Commander Stonewall Jackson's arrival produced the second battle at Bolivar Heights on May 30, 1862 during Jackson's famous Valley Campaign. - Harpers Ferry/NHP.
This is an easy walk with well maintained trails. From the parking area first complete the Moler Farm trail through the large fields on the western side of Bakerton Road/WV 27, then combine the Skirmish Line and Upper Loop trails to hike the perimeter of Bolivar Heights.
There are three other hikes in the Harpers Ferry area: School House Ridge, Loudoun Heights, Murphy-Chambers Farm, and the Maryland Heights hikes.
Battle of Harpers Ferry - September 12-15, 1862
As Robert E. Lee advanced into Maryland with the Army of Northern Virginia, he ordered Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson to capture the garrison at Harpers Ferry to secure a supply line back to Virginia. Jackson's troops located on School House Ridge were under the command of A.P. Hill, Lawton, and J.R. Jones. McLaws commanded on Maryland Heights, and Walker and Crutchfield on Loudoun Heights. The first day of fighting saw heavy cannon fire but not advancement by the Confederate forces on Harpers Ferry. To press the battle after a second day of fighting Jackson ordered A.P. Hill to flank Miles's Union troops to the south of their location on Bolivar Heights. That night A.P. Hill moved into position next to the Shenandoah River with 3,500 troops and 20 cannon.
After heavy bombardment on the third day by the Confederate troops Union Col. Dixon S. Miles realized the fight was hopeless and surrendered to Jackson's forces, but died of wounds from Cannon fire before the surrender took affect. Although by Civil War standards the loss of life was considerably fewer, with 44 Union troops and 39 Confederate troops killed, the battle saw the largest surrender of Union troops in one engagement with 12,000 becoming prisoners of war.
Some of the highlights on this hike include: