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[535]

Book VI:—Virginia.


Chapter 1:

From the Potomac to the Rappahannock.

HAVING followed the struggle which took place in the West down to the close of the year 1862, we must now return to the two large armies of Lee and McClellan, which we left fronting each other on the opposite banks of the Potomac after the sanguinary battle of Antietam. It was the end of September. The Northern States had recovered from the great excitement into which they had been thrown by Lee's march upon Pennsylvania; they had eagerly responded to Mr. Lincoln's new appeal for troops to fill up the gaps in the armies caused by fighting, sickness and desertion. Thanks to the energetic and intelligent direction of its old commander, the army of the Potomac had taken heart again, and blotted out on the heights of Sharpsburg the fatal remembrance of its previous defeats. This army, which, three weeks before, vanquished and disorganized, had retired in dismay to Washington, had achieved a great victory and driven the enemy back into Virginia. If McClellan, after the check he experienced before Richmond, had lost a portion of his popularity with his soldiers, the errors of his successors and the manner in which he set to work to repair them had regained him all their confidence; they felt at last that they were led by a chief capable of coping with the Confederates.

In the South, on the contrary, a bitter disappointment had taken the place of overweening confidence, and the advantages obtained by Bragg in Kentucky could not compensate for the evacuation of Maryland in the eyes of those who already expected to see Washington and Philadelphia fall into the power of

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