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[422] and during that night the Second corps forded it at Williamsport, while the First and Third began crossing the pontoon at Falling Waters, a few miles lower down the river. Stuart so engaged the attention of Meade that the latter was not aware of Lee's crossing until it was well-nigh done. The Federal cavalry pressed against Hill's rearguard, composed of Heth's division, but to be repulsed with loss. The most serious damage to the Confederates was the death of the heroic Pettigrew in the rear-guard skirmish. By noonday of the 14th the three army corps were again in Virginia, and the Federal army was left in amazement at the skill with which Lee had withdrawn from their front and crossed a great river, practically without loss. It was evident that there was no fight left in the Federal army, and Meade was quite content to remain north of the Potomac and carefully watch between Lee and Washington.

Before recrossing the Potomac, and while awaiting an attack from Meade, Lee wrote again, urging President Davis to gather an army, under Beauregard, and threaten Washington, as he had persistently asked should be done before and during his invasion of Pennsylvania. He asserted that he was not discouraged, had not lost faith in Providence or in his army, the fortitude of which had not been shaken, and that the Federal army, though it had been much shattered, could easily be reinforced, while he could expect no addition to his numbers; hence the necessity for an immediate demonstration toward Washington.

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