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[333] Confederate army looked upon this success as an evidence of its good fortune, and derived from it fresh confidence in its superiority over adversaries who had made so poor a defence. As to its chief, it afforded him above all a guarantee of the near approach of Jackson, without whose presence he would undoubtedly have been obliged to recross the Potomac immediately. He sent him orders to come back with all possible haste; and Jackson, leaving A. P. Hill to attend to the execution of the capitulation, started on that very day with his two other divisions under Lawton and Starke. The remainder of the troops—Anderson's, McLaws' and Walker's divisions—which had been united under his command, were to follow, and rejoin him as soon as possible at Sharpsburg. Thoroughly convinced of the necessity of promptly reinforcing the main body of the army, he left nearly fifteen thousand men behind him, in order to proceed himself to the front with about eight or nine thousand; and imposing upon his tired soldiers a fatiguing night-march, he reached Sharpsburg on the 16th, early in the morning.

He arrived in time, for McClellan had not been able to attack Lee's positions the day previous. Two weeks only had elapsed since he had taken command of this army, or rather this disorganized mob. He had not been able to transform it sufficiently to secure that regularity and perseverance in the march which even more than steadiness under fire constitutes the superiority of old troops. When, therefore, he reached the borders of the Antietam on the afternoon of the 15th, he had only two divisions with him, those of Sykes and Richardson, belonging to Sumner's corps. The obstructions of the road, the fatigue of the soldiers, want of exactitude on the part of some of the commanders and the indifference of others, had kept back the rest of the army, which stretched out in interminable columns between Boonesboroa and Antietam. It was impossible for him to attack twenty thousand men strongly posted behind a river with only two divisions. He was therefore obliged to postpone the battle till the following day, and to limit himself to reconnoitring the enemy's positions and selecting those he intended his troops to occupy as they should come up. On the morning of the 16th the Federal line was not yet completely formed.

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