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[309] North was disheartened, stunned by the succession of disasters to the Army of the Potomac. A letter dated at Harrison's Landing, August 10th, has the following passage:—

I am astonished at the fears of the people at home. We have none here. Our army is in splendid fighting trim and ready for anything . . . . We have no idea of giving up, and if the people at home could only come out and see the army, they would hurry to enlist so as to be in time to see the last struggles of the Rebellion. . . . . Our army is healthy, well fed, and confident. I fully believe we shall utterly crush the Rebellion before cold weather.

In August, 1862, the Twentieth left the Peninsula and was sent from Newport News to Alexandria. After crossing the Potomac with the rest of Dana's brigade, and advancing a few miles beyond Fairfax Court-House, it took position there, and allowing Pope's army, then in retreat, to pass by, covered the rear.

At Antietam the division under the immediate direction of General Sumner was in the thickest of the fight. The Twentieth lost one hundred and thirty-seven enlisted men in killed, wounded, and missing. Lieutenant Ropes was struck twice, once by a spent ball, and once by a round solid shot. The former, he says, ‘made a hole in my coat, scraped up the skin a little, and made me lame for a day. The cannon-ball I saw distinctly. It first hit the branch of a tree, glanced, passed between my legs, slightly bruising my knee, and leaving a black mark on my pants.’ A comrade writes of this circumstance, ‘He (Ropes) took it so coolly, I laughed outright.’

On the 2d of October, 1862, Ropes was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant. His conduct through the Peninsular campaign and in the battle of Antietam had not been unnoticed. He was offered positions on the staff, which he resolutely declined. His own words on this subject were, ‘I intend to stand by the Twentieth as long as we both last.’

At Fredericksburg the Third Brigade, then under Colonel N. J. Hall of the Seventh Michigan, a captain in the Regular Army, crossed the Rappahannock in pontoons on the afternoon of Thursday, December 11, 1862, and after a fierce and obstinate

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