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[268] of troops actually engaged in the Battle of Sharpsburg; and if this can be established by contemporaneous, documentary evidence, it is unnecessary to attempt a conjectural estimate of numbers based upon returns of the army made at some time previous or subsequent to the date of the battle, although, to those cognizant of all of the facts, there is no difficulty in harmonizing the results of the two methods.

For a correct understanding of the matter, it is necessary to consider briefly the interesting events of the week immediately preceding the engagement.

On September the 9th the army of General Lee was well in hand near Frederick City, Md.; his purpose was not yet fully developed to the enemy. The Federal authorities at Washington were fearful lest his advance into Maryland was but a feint to cover his real purpose of attacking the Capital. This uncertainty and the necessity for covering that city and Baltimore caused General McClellan to advance very cautiously and slowly.

Quite a large Federal force, between twelve and thirteen thousand men, was at and near Harper's Ferry, Virginia. This force seriously threatened General Lee's line of communication by the Shenandoah Valley and it was essential to the success of his plans to be rid of it. Relying on a continuation of the cautious tactics of his opponent, he determined to detach a force sufficient to reduce Harper's Ferry, and drive away or capture the troops about there, confident of his ability to do this, and then reunite his forces in time to meet General McClellan.

The order for this movement was issued on the 9th of September, and was put into execution on the next day. General Jackson, with his own division and those of A. P. Hill and Ewell, moved directly upon Harper's Ferry; General McLaws, with his division and that of General R. H. Anderson, was ordered to occupy the Maryland heights, on the north side of the Potomac river overlooking Harper's Ferry. General Walker with his division of two brigades, was directed to take possession of Loudoun heights, on the Virginia side, also overlooking Harper's Ferry. These three columns were to cooperate against the enemy at Harper's Ferry. General Longstreet, with his command, embracing six brigades under D. R. Jones, Hood's two brigades and Evans' brigade, was ordered to move to Boonsborough and halt. General D. H. Hill, with his division, was made the rear guard, and ordered to follow General Longstreet.

It was not until the afternoon of the 14th of September that the

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