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Robert Lewis Dabney, Life and Commands of Lieutenand- General Thomas J. Jackson, Chapter 17: the campaign in Maryland. (search)
became the reserve. Thus the troops lay down upon their arms, with the skirmishers immediately confronting the lines of the enemy, and sought such repose asthey might, amidst the alarms of a continual dropping fire. The morning of the 17th of September dawned with all the mellow splendor of the American autumn; but scarcely had the sun arisen, when its quiet and beauty were obscured by the thunders and smoke of a terrific cannonade, which burst from the whole Federal line. The plan of Mcweening vanity and arrogance, claimed a victory at Sharpsburg to which they knew they were not entitled; and filled the public ear with fictions of the discomfiture of the Confederates which they knew were exaggerated. They thus created for themselves a moral necessity to press them with boldness, and the penalty was the slaughter of September 20th. The three thousand corpses floating down the Potomac, or lining its banks, were the price paid by them for the rain boastings of September 17th.