Lee's March Into Maryland, September, 1862.
Lee's plan for his northward advance included the capture of Harper's Ferry and a general engagement in Maryland, in which he expected to be successful. He crossed the Potomac on September 5th, and unexpectedly a portion of his command fought some severe battles at South Mountain, while Jackson compelled the surrender of the large Federal command at Harper's Ferry. On the 15th, when near Antietam, he confronted McClellan, who had again been called to command of the Federal army, succeeding General Pope. The battle of Sharpsburg ensued. Lee's entire strength in this bloody engagement has been carefully computed by Colonel Taylor at 35,255 of all arms, and General McClellan states in his official report that his command was 87,164 of all arms. "Those 35,000 Confederates," says Colonel Taylor in his "Four Years with General Lee," "were the very flower of the army of Northern Virginia, who with indomitable courage and inflexible tenacity wrestled for the mastery in the ratio of one to three of their adversaries, and with consummate skill they were maneuvered from point to point, as different parts of the line of battle were in turn assailed with the greatest impetuosity. At times it appeared as if disaster was inevitable; but succor never failed, and night found Lee's lines unbroken and his army still defiant." McClellan says of his command at the end of the struggle: "The next morning I found that our loss had been so great and there was so much disorganization in some of the commands that I did not consider it proper to renew the attack that day."
On the night of the 18th Lee recrossed the Potomac, and an attempt by the Federal advance to follow was so vigorously met and with such terrible slaughter that, in the language of Gen. A. P. Hill, "few were left to tell the tale;" they were driven in great confusion into the Potomac, "and by their own account, 3,000 men were killed and drowned."
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