it. He at once ordered his army into this chosen position, and his men began to throw up rude intrenchments and look with grim satisfaction at the topographic difficulties in the way, should Meade
venture offensive battle.
The Federal cavalry made some attacks on Lee
's trains as they were passing through the eastern defiles of the South
mountain, but these were quickly repulsed by the train guards, and Stuart
held the large body of Federal cavalry in check by his tireless covering of the rear and flanks of Lee
's retiring movement.
, with 47,000 effectives, about the half of his original army, gave Lee
a wide berth and cautiously marched due south to Frederick
, thus placing himself on the National
road between Lee
To his army 11,000 veterans were added, also large numbers of militia that had responded to Lincoln
's call when Lee
Yielding to urgent orders, from Washington
, that he should at once destroy Lee
's army, which was vainly supposed to be shattered and in full retreat, Meade
took the highway that McClellan
had taken the previous September, crossed the South
mountain at Boonsboro
, on the 11th of July, and after having carefully bridged the Antietam
, appeared, on the 12th, in front of Lee
's now well protected defensive position, and took up a line which he at once proceeded to fortify.
This done, he called a council of war and found that his subordinates were unwilling to attack Lee
's lines, well knowing that such an attempt could result only in defeat and disaster.
On the appearance of Meade
's advance, on the 11th, Lee
issued a stirring address to his soldiers, in which, among other things, he said:
After long and trying marches, endured with the fortitude that has ever characterized the soldiers of the army of Northern Virginia, you have penetrated the country of our enemies, and recalled to the defense of their own soil those who were engaged in the invasion of ours.
You have fought a fierce and sanguinary battle, which, if not attended with the success that has hitherto crowned your efforts, was marked by the same heroic spirit that has commanded the respect of your enemies, the gratitude of your country and the admiration of mankind.
Once more you are called upon to meet the army from which you have won on so many fields a name that will never die. . . . Let every soldier remember that on his courage and fidelity depends all that makes life worth having—the freedom of his country, the honor of his people, and the security of his home.
By the 13th the Potomac
had fallen to within its banks,