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[337] the Sharpsburg and Keedysville road, on the contrary, there were several fords quite accessible at that season of the year. Consequently, instead of seeking to defend this part of the Antietam, and thereby extend his left in a dangerous manner, Lee had drawn back the latter en potence in the direction of the Potomac, thus closing the isthmus and resting the extremity of his line upon the river. On the evening of the 15th he had as yet only succeeded in posting two brigades of Longstreet's corps on that side commanded by Hood; for, as we have said, he had then only twenty thousand men with him, and had remained with the main body of his forces in front of the positions that McClellan was beginning to occupy. Longstreet and Hill had deployed on the heights bordering the Antietam, the former on the right and the latter on the left of the Boonsboroa road; the ground they had chosen was admirably adapted for defensive purposes. From the summit of the hills, which rose on the other bank of the Antietam, whence McClellan was watching him, this ground appeared smooth and quite open; but in reality it was extremely uneven, rendering any combined manoeuvres difficult. The centre of the Confederate positions was marked by a modest wooden church destined to witness a carnage equal to that which had imparted such terrible celebrity to the church of Shiloh. Situated at an equal distance—about sixteen or eighteen hundred metres—from the Potomac, the Antietam and the town of Sharpsburg, Dunker Church stands west of the Hagerstown turnpike, near the junction of an important cross-road leading in a north-easterly direction and a thick wood which skirts the road at this point. Beyond, toward Hagerstown, the road encounters a vast oval clearing, about thirteen hundred metres in length, almost entirely surrounded by woods. To the west the edge of this clearing only swerves for about three or four hundred metres from the road, to rejoin and follow it again for some distance; to the east this same skirt describes a large arc, intersecting the cross-road at a distance of about one kilometre from Dunker Church. It was in this clearing, and the two woods extending, one west of the turnpike, the other between the turnpike and the cross-road, that the contest was to be fiercest. The two woods are interspersed with rocks, affording an easy shelter to sharpshooters; but beyond it,

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McClellan (2)
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