The inscription along the trail path reads:
"The Rebels were all around us and our only refuge was the open canopy of heaven."
Sgt. Charles E. Smith
32nd Ohio Infantry
September 14, 1862
Thousands of Federal soldiers huddled in ravines on Bolivar Heights to escape the Confederate shells of September 14, 1862. By evening, the Federals were demoralized. Pvt. Louis B. Hull of the 60th Ohio Infantry wrote in his diary at sunset: "All seem to think that we will have to surrender or be cut to pieces."
By 8:00 a.m. on September 15, the situation had worsened for the surrounded and outnumbered Federals. During the night, Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division of 3,000 Confederates had turned the Federal left flank on the south end of Bolivar Heights. With Union artillery ammunition exhausted, the situation appeared hopeless.
About 9:00 a.m., Col. Dixon S. Miles, Union commander, decided to surrender his forces. Moments later, a Confederate shell fragment wounded the Colonel. He died the next day, leaving many unanswered questions about the Federal disaster at Harpers Ferry.
An unconditional surrender accepted by Stonewall Jackson from Union Brig. Gen. Julius White on School House Ridge finished the siege. The Confederates captured 73 cannon, 13,000 small arms, 200 wagons and 12,500 prisoners - the largest surrender of U.S. forces until Bataan during World War II.
Jackson reviewed the captured Federal garrison on Bolivar Heights on the afternoon of September 15. On Union soldier recalled: "There we were on the hill, our arms stacked before us, and waiting. Soon the celebrated 'Stonewall' Jackson rode along our lines with his staff. He rode a cream colored horse and was plainly dressed in ... a grey dingy suit."Another soldier shouted, "Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't have been caught in this trap!"