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[347] growing stronger. Another idea prevailed very strongly with some of the corps commanders, namely, that Lee would be compelled to attack us, because of the continued high stage of the Potomac, and that he could not, so long as it lasted, obtain any reliable means of crossing; and the belief also existed that, as a matter of pride, he would not retreat, but would arbitrate again on the bloody field of another battle. I may add here that our information concerning the condition of the river and the operations of the enemy in its vicinity was exceeding scanty, and generally considered unreliable. One or two reports of scouts, however, which were at first discredited, afterward proved to have been well founded, namely, that Lee had obtained a number of pontoons from Winchester, and that he was building flat-boats at Williamsport.

On Sunday night, July twelfth, some of the corps commanders began, on their own respon-sibility, to throw up earthworks for a line of defence. This was continued through Monday and Monday night, even up to the very moment of the departure of the enemy's rear-guard. It is due to General Warren, Chief Engineer, to say that this was entirely without his orders, and he strongly disapproved the proceeding, as well as condemned the position of much of the line.

The escape of Lee was reported at daylight on Tuesday morning, by a negro who came in from Williamsport. His statement was not credited, General Meade believing that the enemy was merely concentrating his forces at some point on his long line to resist an attack. But by nine A. M. every body was convinced. The manner and means by which he escaped you have already had in full.

Three or four facts grouped together tell the whole story. The national army took up its line on Friday and remained nearly in the same position until Tuesday; the troops were in superb spirits, and their confidence that they could whip the rebels was stronger than I have ever yet seen it, and was fully exemplified in the few sharp skirmishes that took place-all, both cavalry and infantry, resulting uniformly in our favor. The enemy had a strong line, but not one third so formidable as. ours at Gettysburgh-dangerously weak because of its length, and weaker by far on Friday, July tenth, than on Monday, July thirteenth. The enemy's means of crossing on Friday were incomplete, on Monday they were complete enough to carry him away; and yet on Monday his army was divided by the river, and in a state of trepidation for fear their hazardous movement should be discovered. We were growing stronger, by additions of troops, while we lay still, and the enemy was improving the same time in recovering from the disheartenment of his defeat, and the aggregation of supplies and ammunition from Winchester. In short, delay proved of far more advantage to the enemy than to us. Add to this the fact, of which I am personally cognizant, that the soldiers received the news of Lee's escape with feelings of bitter disappointment, and that they would rather have fought him two to one than to chase all over Virginia again after him, and the policy of “a vigorous prosecution of the war” at all times and under all circumstances is vindicated with greater emphasis than ever heretofore.

A resume of the campaign since the army left Fredericksburgh, I will give in my next.

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