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[204] descried the Rebels posted in force across Antietam creek, in front of the little village of Sharpsburg. Richardson halted and deployed on the right of the road from Keedysville to Sharpsburg; Sykes, with his division of regulars, following closely after, came up and deployed on the left of that road. Gen. McClellan himself, with three corps in all, came up during the evening.

Lee had of course chosen a strong position; but delay could only serve to strengthen it, while giving opportunity for the arrival of Jackson, Walker, and McLaws, from Harper's Ferry; which McClellan now knew had fallen that morning: Franklin having apprised him of the hour when the sound of guns from that quarter ceased. Had McClellan then resolved to attack at daylight next morning,1 he might before noon have hurled 60,000 gallant troops against not more than half their number of Rebels; for, though Jackson arrived with his overmarched men that morning, he left A. P. Hill behind at the Ferry, while McLaws, still confronting Franklin in Pleasant Valley, was obliged to cross the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, and recross it at Shepherdstown, in order to come up at all; and did not arrive until the morning of the 17th. Walker, clearing London Heights and crossing the Shenandoah on the 15th, had followed Jackson during the night, and arrived at Shepherdstown early on the morning of the 16th; crossing and reporting to Lee at Sharpsburg by noon.2

Lee, aware that every hour's delay was an inestimable advantage to him, made as great a display of force as possible throughout the 15th and 16th, though he thereby exposed his infantry — it seemed wantonly — to the fire of our artillery. But, on the morning of the 17th, when our columns advanced to the attack, and the battle began in earnest, his whole army, save A. P. Hill's division, being on hand, the regiments and brigades hitherto so ostentatiously paraded seemed to have sunk into the earth ; and nothing but grim and frowning batteries were seen covering, each hill-crest and trained on every stretch of open ground where-by our soldiers might attempt to scale those rugged steeps.

The struggle was inaugurated on the afternoon of the 16th, by our old familiar maneuver: Hooker, on our right, being directed to flank and beat the enemy's left, backed by Sumner, Franklin, and Mansfield, who were to come into action successively, somewhat nearer the enemy's center. It would have been a serious objection, ten hours before, to this strategy, that it tended, event if successful, to concentrate the enemy, by driving him back on his divisions arriving or expected from Harper's

1 Sept. 16.

2 McClellan, in his report, says:

It had been hoped to engage the enemy during the 15th ;

but. “after a rapid examination of the position, I found that it was too late to attack that day, and at once directed the placing of the batteries in position in the center, and indicated the bivouacs for the different corps, massing them near and on both sides of the Sharpsburg turnpike. The corps were not all in their positions until the next morning after sunrise.”

George W. Smalley, correspondent of The Tribune, writes from the battle-field on the 17th as follows:

After the brilliant victory near Middletown, Gen. McClellan pushed forward his army rapidly, and reached Keedysville with three corps en Monday night. On the day following, the two armies faced each other idly until night.

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