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[273]

The army had marched and fought incessantly for over a month. Its route was marked by stragglers, who for many reasons had been unable to keep up with their commands. After the army crossed into Maryland, orders were given to collect these men and hold them on the south side of the Potomac, as it would have been dangerous for them to attempt to rejoin their commands while the army was operating in Maryland. I was sent by General Lee from Frederick City to Virginia to meet President Davis and dissuade him from his purpose of joining the army. On my return to General Lee, whom I rejoined just before the battle of Sharpsburg, I found the provost guard at Winchester with orders to halt and collect at that point all men who were attempting to rejoin their commands. The men returning from furlough, the stragglers from Cedar Run, Second Manassas, Chantilly, and Harper's Ferry, and those left on the march before the army crossed into Maryland, as well as in the hurried movements involved in the capture of Harper's Ferry, were collected on the south side of the Potomac and only rejoined their commands after the return of the Army to Virginia.

General McClellan did not renew his attack on the 18th of September; the day was one of comparative quiet; both armies had suffered terribly, and during the night of the 18th General Lee withdrew his army to the south side of the Potomac river.

Every day after the battle witnessed the return of a large number of men to their regiments, and those, together with the force collected about Winchester, made a very material increase in the strength of the army before the next regular return was made.

General McClellan, in his official report, states that he had in action in the same engagement 87,64 men of all arms. If, however, we undertake to construct a table of strength of his army after the method adopted by the critic of General Fitz. Lee's book, these numbers would be materially increased.

Treating all the engagements between the 14th and the 18th as one encounter, as does this critic, let us proceed to construct a statement, similar to his, of the strength of the Union army:

The return of that army for September 20th, 1862, shows an effective total of93,149
The Federal loss at Boonsborough and Sharpsburg, as officially reported, was14,794
The force at Harper's Ferry was about12,000
———
Total strength, by this method,119,943


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