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[313] at his mercy. Instead of leaving a detachment to watch it, which would have weakened his army, he could, by deploying a considerable force, try to crush it before McClellan could come to its relief. In order to compass this great result, he resolved to suspend his northward movement for a few days.

The whole army was ordered to take up the line of march the next day toward the upper Potomac. It thus turned its back upon Washington, and abandoned Frederick and the line of the Monocacy. Lee entered the mountainous section of Maryland. The chain of the Blue Ridge, which terminates the point of confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, is prolonged north of the latter river by that of South Mountain. West of this chain is a large valley which is the counterpart of that of the Shenandoah, and the waters of which, flowing in an opposite direction, also run into the Potomac and form two small parallel rivers, the Conecocheague, which empties into the Potomac at Williamsport, and the Antietam, the mouth of which lies a little below Sharpsburg. The river is easily fordable near these two villages in fine weather. In the centre of the valley lies the little town of Hagerstown, at the head of a line of railway belonging to the Pennsylvania railway system. This line runs in a northerly direction through Chambersburg, enters another valley, the waters of which, still enclosed by the Alleghanies, flow in the direction of the Susquehanna, and at last reach this river opposite Harrisburg. At Chambersburg an unfinished branch of this line is detached toward the west in the direction of Gettysburg; but at that time it did not run beyond the foot of the hills over which passes the important road from Wheeling to Philadelphia. In entering the valley of the Antietam, Lee placed the defiles of South Mountain between McClellan and himself. The two principal passes, the most northerly of which is called Turner's Gap, and the other, ten kilometres more to southward, Crampton's Gap, are traversed by two roads, both of which start from the village of Middletown, on the eastern slope of the mountain. The first leads to Boonsboroa, and thence to Williamsport and Hagerstown; the second to Rohrersville, where it forks, ascending toward Sharpsburg on one side, and stretching down in the

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