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[353] ground; at this price the bridge was carried and the passage free. At the same moment Rodman's division crossed the Antietam at a ford which had just been discovered lower down, and the Ninth corps, led by Cox and Burnside, both of whom bravely exposed themselves, occupied the heights situated between Sharpsburg and the river, along the sides of which wound the Rohrersville road. There was nothing to be done but to advance in order to turn this success to advantage. If Franklin on the right, Porter in the centre and Burnside on the left attacked the enemy simultaneously, he would be driven into Sharpsburg, and the disaster would be complete. But at this critical moment the Federal chiefs were wanting in decision. Burnside halted to re-form his line, and to enable the rest of his corps to cross the river; two precious hours were thus wasted. On the right Sumner arrived at Dunker Church, and, struck with the disorganization of Sedgwick's troops, took upon himself to forbid the grand attack which Franklin was about to commence. The latter urged in vain the imperative necessity; the old soldier, who was as obstinate as he was brave, kept him where he was with all his troops, to repel a supposed attack on the part of the enemy, who, however, was far from contemplating it. In the centre McClellan, deceived by the exaggerated reports of spies and deserters, as he had been before Richmond, regarding the number of his enemies,1 kept the greater part of Porter's corps in reserve, in order to parry any aggressive return on the part of the Confederates. Two army corps—that is to say, nearly twenty-five thousand men—were thus kept from being seriously engaged, at a moment when Lee had his very last man under fire.

Nevertheless, if Burnside had obeyed the orders of his chief more strictly, if he had made a general attack in the morning, and if, after crossing the Antietam, he had not waited two hours before resuming the offensive, he would certainly have placed Lee in a very dangerous position. But these two hours had given A. P. Hill, who had arrived from Harper's Ferry with his fine

1 In his report General McClellan estimates the numerical strength of the Confederate army at ninety-seven thousand four hundred and forty-five men. If Lee had really had such a force under his command, the dispositions of his adversary, so far from being too cautious, might very properly have been considered rash.

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