severe loss sustained by the army, and the reduction of its ammunition, rendered another attempt to dislodge the enemy unadvisable, and it was therefore determined to withdraw.’
But he was in no haste to do this in such a way as to suffer damage to his command or to his trains.
He spent the whole of July 4th awaiting Meade
's pleasure for an attack, which the latter, in the wisdom he had learned during three days of contention, did not make.
After caring for his wounded and burying all his dead within reach, Lee
started his trains for the Potomac
, by the great highway leading southwest from Gettysburg
, through Fairfield
, across the South
mountain by Monterey Springs, and through Hagerstown
These he followed with his army during the night of the 4th, leaving Ewell
, as a rear guard, in front of Gettysburg
until the forenoon of the 5th; and by thus holding on he forced Meade
to follow in pursuit by circuitous routes to passes of the Blue ridge
(South mountain), farther to the southwest.
The disciplined courage of Lee
's army was unbroken, and his veterans were as ready as ever to accept any offered battle.
They knew, as well as did their leaders, why failures had come at Gettysburg
The Federals had all possible tactic advantages.
They had strength of position, superiority of numbers, and abundant supplies of ammunition.
The Confederates mourned the losses they had sustained, but were cheered with the reflection that they retired from the famous battlefield of Gettysburg
with their previous honors well sustained.
As usual, after great battles during the Confederate
war, heavy rains followed that of Gettysburg
, swelling all the tributaries of the Potomac
, making that stream impassable at the Williamsport ford
, and endangering Lee
's pontoon bridge at Falling Waters
, withdrawing from the Cumberland valley
, covered with intrenchments Lee
's trains concentrated at Williamsport
, manned his works with several batteries of artillery, and stood ready to repulse any cavalry attacks that might be made upon him.
As he fell back, Lee
sent forward his engineers to select a new line of battle covering the approaches to Williamsport
and Falling Waters
An admirable position was found near Hagerstown
, which met with General Lee
's approbation, when he arrived on the 6th and rode over