than a tumultuary and disorganized mob; and within forty-eight hours, as if at the touch of a magician's wand, they were converted into an effective and disciplined army.
Within a fortnight from the time of their leaving Washington
, they had marched fifty miles, fought two battles, gained two victories, driven out of Maryland
a foe flushed with recent success, given a sense of security to Washington
, and raised the spirits of every patriot in the land.
Was there any time lost here?
Is there any evidence here of want of decision, want of energy, want of promptness?
Surely not, but all the reverse.
But all this is neutralized and made of no effect because, after the battle of Antietam
, he did not cross the Potomac
, pursue Lee
's retreating army, and utterly destroy it!
Nothing but ignorance or prejudice, one or both, could make this delay a ground for disparaging General McClellan
's military reputation.
Are we to suppose that the man who for fifteen days had been acting with the most extraordinary energy and vigor was suddenly so paralyzed, so smitten with procrastination, that he folded up his hands, went to sleep, and from mere indolence forbore to gather the new laurels which were within reach of his hand if he had only stretched it out?
Such sudden change is inconsistent with the laws of human nature.
Men are not one week brimful of fiery energy and the next eaten up by the rust of inaction.
The pause made after the battle of Antietam
must be interpreted by the fortnight of crowded and intense action which