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[312] two gigantic parallel walls which penetrates into the heart of Virginia. At the time of the battle of Manassas its northern extremity was occupied by twelve or thirteen thousand Federals, four thousand of whom, under General White, were at Winchester, and the remainder at Harper's Ferry under Colonel Miles. On the 3d of September, at the news of Lee's march toward the Potomac, White evacuated Winchester and retired to Martinsburg. Miles and himself had been cut off from Washington by Jackson's troops, who had crossed the river in the vicinity of Leesburg. But they had only to cross the water in their turn and enter Maryland to avoid being surrounded by the enemy, and join the forces which were being organized on the borders of Pennsylvania at their approach. The Confederate army once on the other side of the Potomac, Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry lost all their importance, and protected nothing, the railway itself which passes through those villages being no longer of any value to the Confederates, inasmuch as it did not follow the direction of their invading march. All the troops who remained on the Virginia shore, therefore, were sure to be cut off, besieged and speedily made prisoners, without any other advantage than that of having disturbed Lee's communications during a few days. Consequently, the Confederates did not pay any attention to them, fully convinced that they would not be so imprudent as to tarry on the right side of the Potomac. But they had counted without General Halleck. The latter had retained his direct authority over the troops of White and Miles, whom he had ordered to defend Harper's Ferry at any cost, happen what might. He attached an importance to the possession of this point which it is difficult to explain. He pretended to hold the keys of Maryland after the gates had been burst open. When, as Lee was informed at Frederick that the Federals persisted in occupying Harper's Ferry, he determined to take advantage of this strange imprudence, it was the 9th of September. Up to this time the Army Of the Potomac had watched his movements without seriously interfering with them. It was natural for him to suppose that it had not yet sufficiently recovered from the effects of the last campaign to be able vigorously to assume the offensive. Placed between it and the garrison of Harper's Ferry, the latter was completely

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