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[511] and after the disasters of Second Manassas, McClelland believed and so reported that the troops under Lee amounted to 97,445. We can sympathize with, and appreciate the feelings with which, on September 4th, in command of 90,000 soldiers of the campaigns of the Seven Days battles and of Second Manassas, he left the shelter of the fortifications at Washington, to seek for and give battle to Lee with 97,445 fighting men. It is not discreditable to him, his Generals, or his soldiers, for us to believe that they sought a rendezvous for which they were not anxious. This view of the condition of McClellan's mind will account for many things otherwise incomprehensible, in the events of the succeeding ten days.

While McClellan marched out of Washington to protect the capital against an army which he believed to be overwhelming, he was handicapped still more by the apprehensions of the Washington government.

They distrusted him. He had no confidence in them. They were pervaded with apprehensions that Lee's movement into Western Maryland was a strategic ruse to secure from McClellan an abandonment of the capital in order that Lee might by a quick march turn his left, and seize Washington before he could strike a blow in its defence. During the whole of the Union General's advance into Maryland, he was trammeled and harrassed by constant cautions from the General-in-Chief that he should protect them. He says in his report:

‘I left Washington on the 7th of September. At this time it was known that the mass of the Rebel army had passed up the south side of the Potomac in the direction of Leesburg, and that a portion of that army had crossed into Maryland, but whether it was their intention to cross their whole force with a view to turn Washington by a flank movement down the north bank of the Potomac, to move on Baltimore, or to invade Pennsylvania, were questions which at that time we had no means of determining. This uncertainty as to the intentions of the enemy obliged me, up to the 13th of September, to march cautiously, and to advance the army in such order as continually to keep Washington and Baltimore covered, and at the same time to hold the troops well in hand so as to be able to concentrate and follow rapidly if the enemy took the direction of Pennsylvania, or to return to the defence of Washington, if as was greatly feared by the authorities, the enemy should be merely making a feint with a small force to draw off our army, while with their main forces they stood ready to seize the first favorable opportunity to attack the capital.’

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