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Pope's division had been styled the
Army of Virginia, but the name was now dropped, and the consolidated
forces adopted the title of the Army of the Potomac, by which it was
known to the close of the war.

The success of the Confederates had been so decisive that the Richmond
authorities now decided to assume the aggressive and invade the North.
It was a bold plan thus to send their principal army so far from its
base, and General Lee did not favor it, but the opportunity was too
tempting for his superiors to disregard. One great incentive was the
well-founded belief that if the Confederacy gained a marked advantage,
England and France would intervene and thus secure the independence of
the South.

The neighboring State of Maryland was viewed with longing and hopeful
eyes by Lee and his army. It was a slave State, had furnished a good
many men to the Confederate armies, and, had it been left to itself,
probably would have seceded. What more likely, therefore, than that its
people would hasten to link their fortunes with the Confederacy on the
very hour that its most powerful army crossed her border?


THE CONFEDERATE ADVANCE INTO MARYLAND.

The Confederate army began fording the Potomac at a point nearly
opposite the Monocacy, and by the 5th of September all of it was on
Maryland soil. The bands struck up the popular air, "Maryland, my
Maryland," the exultant thousands joining in the tremendous chorus, as
they swung off, all in high spirits at the belief that they were
entering a land "flowing with milk and honey," where they would find
abundant food and be received with outspread arms.

Frederick City was reached on the 6th, and two days later Lee issued an
address to the people of Maryland, inviting them to unite with the
South, but insisting that they should follow their free-will in every
respect. The document was a temperate one, and the discipline of the
troops was so excellent that nothing in the nature of plundering
occurred.

But it did not take Lee long to discover he had made a grievous mistake
by invading Maryland. If the people were sympathetic, they did not show
it by anything more than words and looks. They refused to enlist in the
rebel army, gave Lee the "cold shoulder," and left no doubt that their
greatest pleasure would be to see the last of the ragged horde.

While at Frederick, Lee learned that the Union Colonel Miles was at
Harper's Ferry with 12,000 troops, held there by the direct order of
General Halleck, who was the acting commander-in-chief of the United
States forces. Lee determined to capture the whole body, and, detaching
Stonewall Jackson with three divisions, ordered him to do so and return
to him with the least possible delay.

Military critics have condemned this act of Lee as one of the gravest
blunders of his career. His advance thus far had been resistless, and it
was in his power to capture Baltimore, and probably Philadelphia and
Washington; but the delay involved in awaiting the return of Jackson
gave McClellan, who was a skillful organizer, time to prepare to meet
the Confederate invasion.

Jackson lost not an hour in capturing Harper's Ferry, the defense of
which was so disgraceful that had not Colonel Miles been killed just as
the white flag was run up he would have been court-martialed and
probably shot. Many suspected him of treason, but the real reason was
his cowardice and the fact that he was intoxicated most of the time. Be
that as it may, Harper's Ferry surrendered with its garrison of 11,500
men, who were immediately paroled. The Confederates obtained seventy-two
cannon, 13,000 small arms, and an immense amount of military stores.

Scarcely had the surrender taken place, when Jackson, who had hardly
slept for several days and nights, received orders from Lee to join him
at once. He started without delay, but he and his men were almost worn
out. It is likely that by this time Lee was aware of the mistake he had
made when he stopped for several days while his leading assistant went
off to capture a post that was of no importance to either side.


McCLELLAN'S PURSUIT OF LEE.

Leaving a strong garrison to defend Washington, McClellan, at the head
of 100,000 troops, set out to follow Lee, who had about 70,000 under his
immediate command. The Union leader reached Frederick on the 12th of
September, and there a curious piece of good fortune befell him.

In the house which had been used as the headquarters of General D.H.
Hill was found a copy of an order issued by General Lee, which detailed
his projected movements, and contained his instructions to his various
leaders. It was priceless information to General McClellan, who made
good use of it.

Lee manoeuvred to draw McClellan away from Washington and Baltimore,
that he might attack them before the Union commander could return to
their defense. Lee left Frederick on September 10th, after Jackson had
started for Harper's Ferry, and, marching by South Mountain, aimed for
Boonsboro'. Stuart and his cavalry remained east of the mountains to
watch McClellan, who was advancing with every possible precaution. Lee
expected Harper's Ferry would fall on the 13th, but the surrender did
not take place until two days later. The Confederate army being divided,
McClellan tried to take advantage of the fact, hoping to save Colonel
Miles at Harper's Ferry. It did not take Lee long to perceive from the
actions of the Union commander that in some way he had learned of his
plans.

It would not be interesting to give the details of the many manoeuvres
by each commander, but before long Lee saw he could not hold his
position at South Mountain, and he retreated toward Sharpsburg, near the
stream of water known as Antietam Creek. He was thus on the flank of any
Federal force that might attempt to save Harper's Ferry. Naturally he
held the fords of the Potomac, so that in case of defeat the way to
Virginia was open.

[Illustration: GENERAL LEE'S INVASION OF THE NORTH.

The Confederate army under General Lee twice invaded the north. The
first invasion was brought to a disastrous end by the Battle of
Antietam, September 17, 1862. The second invasion ended with greater
disaster at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Gettysburg was the greatest and
Antietam the bloodiest battles of the war.]

Still Lee and Jackson were separated by a wide stretch of mountain,
river, and plain, and McClellan was aware of the fact. He had the
opportunity to cut off each division in detail, but lacked the nerve and
dash to do it. There were subordinates in the Army of the Potomac who
yearned for just such a chance, but McClellan's timidity and excessive
caution deprived him of another golden opportunity, as it had done
before and was soon to do again.

The position of Lee was among a range of hills, which, following the
form of a crescent, extended from the lower point of Antietam Creek to a
bend in the Potomac. Jackson was straining every nerve to join Lee, but
his men were taxed beyond endurance, and many of them fell by the
roadside from utter exhaustion, only a portion reaching Sharpsburg on
the 16th. The full Confederate army did not exceed 40,000, while
McClellan, who arrived on the opposite side of Antietam Creek, that
afternoon, had 70,000. Instead of attacking at once, he waited two days,
and thus gave Lee time to gather many thousand stragglers.

[Illustration: ANTIETAM BRIDGE.]


BATTLE OF ANTIETAM OR SHARPSBURG.

Finally, when McClellan had no excuse for further delay, and the enemy
was in fine form, he opened the attack on the morning of the 17th. To
reach Lee the Union commander had to cross the creek, which was spanned
by three bridges, each defended by Confederate batteries.

The first attack was by Hooker on the enemy's left, where he drove
Jackson back, after he had been reinforced by Hood, cleared the woods,
and took possession of the Dunker Church, which stood slightly north of
Sharpsburg. A little way beyond the Confederates made a stand, and,
being reinforced, recovered most of the ground they had lost. General
Mansfield was killed and Hooker received a painful wound in the foot.
When their two corps were retreating in confusion, Sumner arrived,
rallied them, and made a successful stand. Seeing the critical
situation, Lee hurried every available man to that point. This left only
2,500 troops in front of the bridge, where Burnside had 14,000.
McClellan sent repeated orders for him to advance, but he paid no
attention until one o'clock, when he crossed without trouble, and then
remained idle for three more hours. The heights were soon captured, and
a position secured from which the rebel lines could be enfiladed. A.P.
Hill arrived at this juncture from Harper's Ferry with 4,000 men, and
drove Burnside in a panic to the creek. Fighting soon ceased, both sides
too much exhausted to keep up the terrific struggle, the position of the
two armies being much the same as at first.

This fierce battle had wrenched and disorganized both armies, but
McClellan, who had much the larger body, could have destroyed or
captured those in front of him, had he followed the urgent advice of his
officers, and given the enemy no rest. But he decided to await
reinforcements, which arrived to the number of 14,000 that night. Then
he resumed his preparations, and on the morning of the 19th advanced
against the enemy, only to find there was none in front of him.


LEE'S RETREAT.

The retreat of Lee was deliberate. Having accurately gauged the
commander in front of him, he spent all of the 18th in completing his
preparations, and made no move until the next morning. Then, protected
by batteries on the opposite bank, he crossed the Potomac, and on the
20th drove back a Union reconnaissance. The government, impatient with
McClellan's tardiness, urged and almost ordered him to follow up Lee,
but the commander preferred to guard against being followed up himself
by the Army of Northern Virginia. Thus again a golden opportunity
slipped away unimproved.

Naturally each side claimed a victory at Antietam or Sharpsburg, as it
is called in the South, but such a claim in either case is hardly
justifiable.



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