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[309] at this period the French government, discarding all the traditions of national policy, had openly extended its sympathies to the enemies of the American Union, and that under the name, sometimes of recognition, sometimes of mediation, it had already been several times anxious to intervene in their favor. The wisdom of the English government, which refused to participate in these measures, had prevented France from pursuing so fatal a policy. But the numerous friends of the Confederates did not despair of dragging England into this course, and thus securing them the support of these two great European powers. In order to accomplish this, they only asked of their clients some success which could be adroitly turned to advantage; a victory achieved beyond the Potomac would have enabled them to maintain that the North, beaten on her own soil, would never be able to conquer those vast States which had rebelled against her laws.

On the 3d of September, therefore, Lee turned his heads of column toward the Potomac. The country into which he was about to carry the war, consisting of nearly the whole of Maryland and a portion of Pennsylvania, is comprised between the Potomac at the south and the Susquehanna at the north; it is bounded on the east by Chesapeake Bay, into which the waters of these two rivers empty. It is composed of two very distinct regions. The eastern section, slightly undulating, fertile and under good cultivation, comprises the southern counties of Pennsylvania, which constitute one-third of it; the remainder forms lower Maryland, a region rich in slaves, and consequently in sympathy with the Confederates. The western section is mountainous; the Alleghanies, after sloping down to let the Potomac pass, resume their direction from south-west to north-eastward in long parallel ridges. The valleys they enclose on this side are a counterpart to that of the Shenandoah, the ridges and gorges to be met with being precisely similar to those of the Blue Ridge. Western Maryland is a triangle, which occupies the lower section of this region; it is closely connected with Pennsylvania through its interests and customs, and the mountain population, mostly settlers from the free States, had remained loyal to the Union, like those of West Virginia.

A march upon Baltimore must have been very tempting to the

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