McClellan had thus, by a rare stroke of good fortune, become possessed of his adversary's designs, when it was too late to change them, and when it could not be known to that adversary, at least until developed by counteracting movements, that he had this knowledge, and was acting upon it. Lee had ventured the hazardous maneuver of dividing his army in a hostile country, and placing a considerable and treacherous, though fordable, river between its parts, while an enemy superior in numbers to the whole of it hung closely upon its rear. Such strategy must have been dictated by an ineffable contempt either for the capacity of his antagonist or for the most obvious rules of war. The order above given rendered it clear not only that Harper's Ferry was Lee's object, and that Jackson's corps and Walker's division were ere this across the Potomac in eager quest of it, but that only McLaws's corps--20,000 men at the utmost — was now between our whole army and the coveted prize. Our corps happened then to be mainly concentrated around Frederick; but Franklin's division — nearly 17,000 strong — was some miles southward, and thus nearer to Harper's Ferry, and in front of McLaws. Had McClellan instantly put his whole army in motion, marching by the left flank on parallel roads leading directly toward the Potomac and the Ferry, and sending orders to Franklin to advance and either force his way to the Ferry or engage whomsoever might attempt to resist him, assured that corps after corps would follow swiftly his advance and second his attacks, McLaws must have been utterly crushed before sunset of the 14th, and Harper's Ferry relieved by midnight at farthest. That, instead of this, McClellan should have advanced his main body on the road tending rather north of west, through Turner's Gap to Boonsborough and Hagerstown, rather than on roads leading to Crampton's Gap and to the Potomac, is unexplained and inexplicable. The ‘South Mountain’ range of hills, which stretch north-eastwardly from the Potomac across Maryland, are a modified continuation of Virginia's “Blue Ridge,” as the less considerable Catoctin range, near Frederick, are an extension of the “Bull Run” range. Between them is the valley of Catoctin creek, some ten miles wide at the Potomac, but narrowing
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