when we reached the enemy's fortifications, the men were completely exhausted, and not in a condition to make an attack. ... I determined to make an assault, but before it could be made it became apparent that the enemy had been strongly reinforced. ... After consultation with my division commanders, I became satisfied that the assault, even if successful, would be attended with such great sacrifice as would ensure the destruction of my whole force before the victory could be made available, and if unsuccessful, would necessarily have resulted in the loss of the whole force.From the tenor of this despatch, it is fair to infer that this general had no serious intention of attempting anything so foolhardy as to carry by assault the western fortifications, and that probably his demonstration at this point was to cover the escape of his mounted plunderers across the Potomac. From the facts within our knowledge, viz. that the Sixth Corps, and a portion of the Nineteenth, had arrived upon the 11th, having made equally good time with less fatigue than the Confederate troops from the Kittoctin Mountains, it is evident that a genuine attack would have resulted in the destruction of the Confederate force. In the forenoon of the 12th, Gen. Getty's division of the Sixth Corps was placed on picket in front of Fort Stevens; at the same time the sharpshooters of the enemy, concealed by the orchard near the Rives House on the Silver Spring road, began to be active in attempting to pick off the Federal skirmishers. Between
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