South Mountain was heralded abroad by our antagonists as a great victory. Favors of that sort had been few and far between, and this seemed to call for special gratulation and congratulation. Mr. Lincoln telegraphed the next day to General McClellan: ‘God bless you and all with you. Destroy the Rebel army, if possible.’ This is a model dispatch, and is a beautiful illustration of the meaning of St. James in the tenth verse of the third chapter of his epistle, which you can read when you go home. But Sharpsburg affords, as I think, the best illustration of the pluck, dash and stubborn fighting of the privates in the ranks. Lee's army was never so small. It had fought McClellan from Richmond to Harrison's Landing on James River. It had fought Pope from the Rappahannock to the Potomac. It had given a new experience to this young warrior, who, like Lockinvar had come gaily out of the West and had only seen the backs of his enemies, and had there learned to scorn all thoughts of lines of retreat. I suspect that the young man did not personally gain any more knowledge in the East than he had done in the West about the faces of his foes, but the people he had about him did see those faces, and before he vanished amid the storm he left behind him this military maxim ‘for a line of retreat, the short cut is the safe cut.’ The campaigns against McClellan and Pope had greatly reduced Lee's army. The order issued on crossing the Potomac excusing all barefooted men from marching had reduced it still more. So, at Sharpsburg, General Lee had only the hardiest, strongest and bravest of his Rebel boys, The straggling had been enormous. The chaff had been blown off and only the sound, solid wheat had been left. General McClellan estimates Lee's army at Sharpsburg at 97,445. These numbers, he says, he got from General Banks, who had them from ‘prisoners, deserters and spies.’ The precision of this calculation strikes me as most admirable, 97,445, no more, no less. It was not a guess. Oh, no! General Lee's guess of the strength of his own army would have fallen short of this by more than 60,000. No, it was not a guess. It was obtained from ‘prisoners, deserters and spies.’ These generally count in round numbers, but on this occasion were minutely accurate. Why not 97,000 dry so? Why not 97,400? Why not 97,440? Who figured out the last five? I surmise that ‘the intelligent contraband’ is responsible for this astonishing precision. The added five helped to swell up ‘the overwhelming numbers.’ It could not, would not, should not be omitted. General McClellan puts his own forces at 87,164. He, too, must
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
General Ewell at First Manassas .
Colonel Campbell Brown 's reply to General Beauregard .
The Merrimac and the Monitor —Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs.
Report: [to accompany bill H. R. 244 .]
Official reports of the battle of Gettysburg .
Report of Colonel Bryan Grimes , of Fourth North Carolina .
Operations of detachment from Cashtown to Williams -Port—report of Major Charles Richardson .
From the Rapidan to Spotsylvania Courthouse .
Report of General R. S. Ewell .
Report of General A. L. Long , from 4th to 31st of May , 1864 .
Evacuation of Richmond .
Reunion of the Virginia division Army of Northern Virginia Association.
Orations at the unveiling of the statue of Stonewall Jackson , Richmond, Va. , October 26th , 1875 .
Governor Kemper 's address.
The battle of Honey Hill .
Battle of Chickamauga .
Report of Brigadier-General B. R. Johnson .
Letter from General Hagood on recapture of a flag.
The cavalry affair at Waynesboro .
General Sherman 's method of making war.
Letter from Colonel Stone .
Gleanings from General Sherman 's despatches.
The Wee Nee Volunteers of Williamsburg District, South Carolina , in the First ( Gregg 's) Regiment—Siege and capture of Fort Sumter .
The Kilpatrick - Dahlgren raid against Richmond .
Statement of Lieutenant Bartley , of the United States signal corps .
The Confederate account.
Authenticity of the Dahlgren papers.
The opening of the lower Mississippi in April , 1862 -a reply to Admiral Porter .
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