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[358] had safely escaped him, McClellan sent three brigades across the Potomac in pursuit, and these captured four Confederate guns, placed on the bluffs above the ford, which were not sufficiently guarded; but Jackson with A. P. Hill, speedily punished this temerity and drove the Federals back, across the Potomac.

With the great river between them, the army of the Potomac and the army of Northern Virginia now rested and recuperated during the bracing autumn days that characterize the great Appalachian valley. McClellan called for reinforcements, declaring that his ranks were being weakened by straggling and desertion, while Lee called upon his government for shoes and clothes for his well-nigh half-clad army. In a letter to his wife, General Lee wrote:

My hands are improving slowly; with my right hand I am able to dress and undress myself, which is a great comfort My left is becoming of some assistance, too, though it is still swollen and sometimes painful. The bandages have been removed. I am now able to sign my name. It has been six weeks to-day since I was injured, and I have at last discarded the sling.

From his headquarters in the vicinity of Winchester, on the 2d of October, Lee issued an address to his soldiers, in which he said:

In reviewing the achievements of the army during the present campaign, the commanding general cannot withhold the expression of his admiration of the indomitable courage displayed in battle and its cheerful endurance of privation and hardship on the march Since your great victories around Richmond, you have defeated the enemy at Cedar Mountain, expelled him from the Rappahannock, and after a conflict of three days, utterly repulsed him on the plains of Manassas, and forced him to take shelter within the fortifications around his capital. Without halting for repose, you crossed the Potomac, stormed the heights of Harper's Ferry, made prisoners of more than 11,000 men, and captured upward of seventy-five pieces of artillery, all their small-arms and other munitions of war. While one corps of the army was thus engaged, the other insured its success by arresting at Boonsboro the combined armies of the enemy, advancing under their favorite general to the relief of their beleaguered comrades. On the field of Sharpsburg, with less than one-third his numbers, you resisted from daylight until dark the whole army of the enemy, and repulsed every attack along his entire front of more than four miles in extent. The whole of the following day you stood prepared to renew the conflict on the same ground, and retired next morning without molestation across the Potomac. Two attempts subsequently made by the enemy to follow you across the river have resulted in his complete discomfiture and being driven back with loss.

Achievements such as these demanded much valor and patriotism. History records few examples of greater fortitude and endurance

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