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[335] directions in all the habitations adjoining the place through which he passed, directing them to rally at Winchester, which he intended to make his base of operations. For a few days the passes of the Blue Ridge were thronged with these men, numbering, it is said, from twenty to thirty thousand, who were struggling with great difficulty to reach the rendezvous which had been indicated to them. The booming of cannon in the direction of Harper's Ferry, the distant echo of which resounded through the deep gorges of the Alleghanies, hastened their uncertain steps; for if their band no longer constituted an army, it still contained many gallant soldiers. These, however, were of no use to Lee so long as the campaign was prosecuted in Maryland. To their number must be added the killed, wounded and sick; so that the Confederate army, reduced by one-half when it crossed the Potomac, had then less than forty thousand combatants.1 In short, the long marches and frequent privations had greatly debilitated the combatants themselves. In consequence of insufficient means of transportation, the small amount of resources the Southern States were able to forward, and the defective system of the military administration, they were equally in want of provisions and ammunition. The latter especially, which had to be brought from Richmond without the aid of railroads, had become of infinite value to Lee, and its scarcity might be sufficient to embarrass all his movements.

He nevertheless determined to accept a battle on the soil he had invaded. The political causes which had rendered that invasion an imperative necessity did not admit of its being abandoned without trying the fortune of arms. Besides, the position chosen by Lee compensated to some extent for the numerical inferiority of his army. Obliged by the rapid manoeuvres of McClellan to halt before having penetrated into Pennsylvania in force, he had abandoned Hagerstown and the upper course of the Antietam. We have described this stream as forming an acute angle with the Potomac in its general course; the peninsula comprised between these two water-courses is contracted through a large bend in the

1 In his report General Lee gives the figure as thirty-three thousand; but other documents lead us to believe that, according to the practice of the Confederates, the actual strength of his army had been underrated.

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