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[538] week later, its total effective force raised to nearly seventy-four thousand combatants. These ragged soldiers—as they were contemptuously styled by the inhabitants of Maryland, who had refused to compromise themselves for their sakes—found themselves at last in the midst of a population ready to share all their sufferings and sparing no efforts to alleviate them. The summer heats had been followed by a lovely Virginian autumn; the pure air, the dry soil, the wide open country, and the fresh waters rushing down from the Alleghanies, made the sick forget the forest swamps of the Chickahominy and the mud of Bull Run. The army of the Potomac also greatly needed reorganizing and rest. We have seen that when McClellan resumed the command of it, after Pope's disastrous campaign, it seemed to be on the point of dissolution, and the despondency which had invaded it looked like the certain prelude to new defeats. McClellan had infused fresh vigor into it, but had not been able, during the marches which preceded the battle of Antietam, to eradicate the evils which had been introduced into its organization, nor to repair the enormous losses it had previously sustained in stores and equipments. The regiments, deficient in their complement, and greatly reduced by fighting and desertion, only represented the strength of two or three companies each. Unable to consolidate them—that is to say, to merge several into one—McClellan requested that the regiments recently raised might be brigaded with them, so as to combine the two elements, thereby forming brigades, to which the new recruits would impart a numerical, and the old soldiers a moral, strength. The short time during which the army had been encamped in the neighborhood of Washington, before marching to meet Lee in Maryland, had been employed in effecting its reorganization and in arming the recruits and stragglers. But it had commenced the march without the necessary materiel for a long campaign. There was a great scarcity of saddle-horses and draught-horses, wagons and articles of clothing, especially shoes, nor had it any depots or storehouses for collecting such materials.

Under these circumstances, McClellan did not deem it expedient to undertake an offensive campaign in Virginia when Porter's unfortunate reconnaissance had shown him that the enemy was disposed to offer resistance. He did not dare to take position

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