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William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, I. The Army of the Potomac in history. (search)
tomac and of Northern Virginia operated. The battles of Antietam and Gettysburg—the two actions out of the limits of Virginia—were fought in the narrow salient of a great triangle, having the southern boundary line of Virginia as its base, the Shenandoah and Cumberland valleys as its western side, and the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay as its eastern side. From its apex, this triangle measures seven hundred and fifty miles on its mountainside, and about three hundred miles on its westernuntain system of Virginia is thrown off on the western flank of the theatre of operations, where the Blue Ridge forms, with that parallel ridge called successively the Clinch, Middle, and Shenandoah mountains, the picturesque and fertile Valley of the Shenandoah. This valley, from its direction north and south, and its peculiar topographical relations, is an eminently aggressive line for a hostile force moving northward to cross the Potomac into Maryland, either with the view of penetrating Pen
William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 6 (search)
ment, menacing Pennsylvania by the Cumberland Valley, he hoped to draw the Union army so far towards the Susquehanna as to afford him either an opportunity of seizing Baltimore or Washington, or of dealing a damaging blow at the army far from its base of supplies. His first movement from Frederick was, therefore, towards the western side of that mountain range which, named the Blue Ridge south of the Potomac, and the South Mountain range north of the Potomac, forms the eastern wall of the Shenandoah and Cumberland valleys—the former his line of communications with Richmond and the latter his line of manoeuvre towards Pennsylvania. Sketch of manoeuvres on Antietam. Now, at the time Lee crossed the Potomac, the Federal post at Harper's Ferry, commanding the debouteh of the Shenandoah Valley, was held by a garrison of about nine thousand men, under Colonel D. H. Miles, while a force of twenty-five hundred men, under General White, did outpost duty at Martinsburg and Winchester. T