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[353]

The enemy, no longer occupied in guarding his own capital, poured his troops northward, entered Maryland, threatened Pennsylvania, and even Washington itself. Elated by his recent victories, and assured that our troops were disorganized and dispirited, he was confident that the seat of war was now permanently transferred to the loyal States, and that his own exhausted soil was to be relieved from the burden of supporting two hostile armies. But he did not understand the spirit which animated the soldiers of the Union. I shall not, nor can I, living, forget that, when I was ordered to the command of the troops for the defence of the capital, the soldiers with whom I had shared so much of the anxiety and pain and suffering of the war had not lost their confidence in me as their commander. They sprang to my call with all their ancient vigor, discipline, and courage. I led them into Maryland. Fifteen days after they had fallen back, defeated, before Washington, they vanquished the enemy on the rugged heights of South Mountain, pursued him to the hard-fought field of Antietam, and drove him, broken and disappointed, across the Potomac into Virginia.

The army had need of rest. After the terrible experiences of battles and marches, with scarcely an interval of repose, which they had gone through from the time of leaving for the Peninsula, the return to Washington, the defeat in Virginia, the victory at South Mountain, and again at Antietam, it was not surprising that they were in a large degree destitute of the absolute necessaries to effective duty. Shoes were worn out; blankets were lost; clothing was in rags: in short, the army was unfit for active service, and an interval for rest and equipment was necessary. When the slowly-forwarded supplies came to us, I led the army across the river, renovated and refreshed, in good order and discipline, and followed the retreating foe to a position where I was

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