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„ssailed Turner's Gap, which was Fair Oaks and Seven Pines one abandoned by the Confederates in wing of the Federals was assailed the night. It is believed,” says unexpectedly, and the commanders McClellan, “that the force opposed of corps had to make good their to us at Turner's Gap consisted of ground as best they could. At D. H. Hill's corps, and a part, if Williamsburg it was Sumner who not the whole, of Longstreet's, and commanded, and at Hanover, Por- perhaps a portion of Jackson's; ter. At Gaines' Mill, again, it was probably some 30,000 in all. We General Porter who made the acwent into action with about 30,000 tual tactical dispositions on the
men, and our losses amounted to field. But when the Federal ad- 1568, aggregate.” This uncandid
vance came upon Lee's line of battle 1. method of computing the enemy's at Antietam, it
at Antietam, it was, McClellan says,
, force, and so making it appear equal too late to attack that day, and he to his own, as well as his glorifica- proceeded, after examination of the tion over the fancied victory, are the position, to employ the remainder of - less excusable, as McClellan must the 15th in making deliberate disi bave known that these detachments positions for the engagement. £ were placed in the gaps only to hold Some months ago, in reviewing
them till the main columns had books on the American war, we concentrated, and that, this object commented on the excellent work
effected, the sooner they retired of Captain Chesney on the cam [ the better.
paigns in Virginia and Maryland. i The mountain-ridge being passed, The reader will find, on consulting & the Federal columns swung round it, that it records facts, carefully
on their left towards the river; and, and dispassionately adduced, which b nearing it, found Lee's
army drawn are in many important respects at up to bar the way. The Confeder- variance with the report of McClelį ate leader had no doubt calculated lan. We find, for instance, that the
on holding, at pleasure, undisturbed troops which opposed him at South possession of the country north of Mountain (the division of D. Hill) the Potomac, thinking the Federal were 10,000 in number, instead of army too severely shaken by defeat 30,000, as the Federal commander to resume the offensive. But when estimates their force. It will be McClellan moved against him, he found, too, that the force with which had hastened to withdraw his col- Lee barred the way at the Antieumns towards Virginia, behind the tam consisted only of a part of detachments posted to hold the gaps Longstreet's corps. The whole of of the ridge. The concentration Jackson's force, 24,000, had been being effected between the enemy employed in the attack on Harper's and the Potomac, Lee might have Ferry, the relief of which post
had continued his retreat without a been one special object of McClelbattle. But to have retired in face lan's advance. Now, the post surof the enemy without a passage of rendered at 8 in the morning of the arms, would have been inconsistent 16th, and McClellan knew it from with the character of a commander the cessation of the firing. He must always more ready to fight than to also have known that Jackson's evade an action. Taking post be force was thus set free to join Lee. hind the Antietam Creek, he await. Had he, therefore, attacked at once ed the onset, while he saw the long on the evening of the 15th, when trains of his spoils pass the river he had five corps at hand, he might behind him.
have brought above 70,000 men This battle of Antietam may be against about a third of their numconsidered the test of McClellan's bers. But, imposed on by Lee's fighting qualities. It is the only attitude, he contented himself with great action in which he directed reconnoitring him that evening. all the main operations. For at The Antietam and Potomac both
run southward for some distance in gain the battle, and v the neighbourhood of the battle- than the battle, but field, but before their junction the will entail the most Potomac makes an eastward bend. the enemy. In the hilly wooded space between Now the Potomac from Will.. them is Sharpsburg, at the junction port to Shepherdstown runs nearly of many roads leading from Mary- north and south. If Lee should land to Virginia. In front of Sharps- be compelled to retreat by Williamsburg Lee had drawn up his lines, port, McClellan, crossing at Shephis right resting on the Antietam, herdstown, would interpose between which covered about two-thirds of him and the Shenandoah valley, behis front, but its course then di- tween him and all Eastern Virginia, verging, his left wing did not com- between him and Richmond-would mand the passages of the upper in fact ruin him. But if he were portion of the stream. Thus, of the compelled to retreat by Shepherdsthree passages leading on Lee's town, his course down the Shenanright, centre, and left, that on his doah valley (as was actually the left was unguarded.
case) would be unimpeded, and noMcClellan, then, after a second thing would be gained beyond the reconnoissance, which lasted till ground he had stood on. Thus the two in the afternoon of the 16th, result of an attack on Lee's right and which was, he says, rendered would be enormously greater than necessary by a change in the dispo- that which would follow from sition of Lee's batteries, resolved an attack on his left. And had a to cross first by the unguarded successful attack been made on his passage (no doubt because it was right on the 16th it would have cut unguarded) and to attempt to turn Jackson from the main body, for he Lee's left, as the preliminary to an did not join Lee till after midnight. attack upon bis other flank. Then, But, though McClellan's plan when his own left should have push- contemplated an attack on both ed back his enemy's right, it was to flanks, there can be no doubt as to move along the crest towards the which was the point he specially right, and the centre was finally to aimed at. Out of six corps he advance and connect them.
threw four against the enemy's left, Now, two roads led along Lee's while one only attacked the right, rear from Sharpsburg across the and one, opposite the centre, was Potomac. That on his left crossed not engaged. Now, an attack on at Williamsport, that on his right the right was not impracticable, for at Shepherdstown. If his left only it was made, and was so far successwas turned, he could still cross at ful that Burnside crossed there and Shepherdstown—if his right only, held his ground on the further he could still retreat on Williams- bank. If, then, the four corps had port; which flank then was it best been massed there instead of on for McClellan to turn ? We have the left, and had been equally sucsaid that the passage of the Antie- cessful in forcing back by their tam would be undisputed on Lee's weight the opposing line, Lee could left, and that it was therefore not have retreated by Shepherdseasiest to attack there. But it often town, but must have been driven happens that the point of an ene- on Williamsport, and the result my's line which is weakest, and would have been what we have where it will be easiest to defeat indicated. We think, therefore, him, is by no means that which McClellan's whole plan of battle offers the most decisive results. false ; and we believe that he was And it is a distinctive feature in induced to adopt it because the the character of a great general that attack on the left was so much he always aims, if possible, not at easier than that on the right -a the point where he may most easily consideration which, especially with such disparity in his favour as ex- good reason why he should postpone isted in the opposing forces, ought the attack, was also an excellent not to have controlled his decision. reason why Lee should not await
It was so late on the 16th when it. And when it is added that two McClellan began his attack that fresh divisions joined McClellan on Hooker's corps only was engaged. the morning of the 18th, while It crossed by fords unopposed, at- Porter's corps (in the centre) was tacked Longstreet's left, and at the still almost untouched, there is close of some sharp, indecisive fight- sufficient to account for Lee's reing, encamped close to it for the treat without attributing it to any night. Jackson, arriving at mid- success gained by McClellan in the night, took post opposite Hooker. action. He was preparing to reNext day the general engagement engage on the morning of the 19th, began. 'All day the four corps in when he found that Lee had, during succession were hurled against the the night, withdrawn his whole left of Lee, which, at the close of force safely beyond the Potomac; the battle, had fallen back about a and a strong detachment sent across mile, after varying fortunes, and to ascertain whether he was still in heavy loss on both sides. Burnside, force in the neighbourhood of the after failing in two attempts, had river received convincing, if not also crossed on Lee's right, gained a satisfactory, proof of the fact in a footing on the crest, and was then severe disaster. driven back upon the bridge, re- Accepting, then, the battle of maining on the right bank. Lee Antietam as a fair criterion of still held Sharpsburg in the centre. McClellan's fighting quality, we
On the morning of the 18th, the cannot estimate it very highly. armies faced each other, but the Sagacious and sound in combining battle was not renewed. McClel- the movements of a campaign, he lan's troops were not in a condition would always be apt to forfeit any to attack. Hooker's corps and part advantages which his plan had of Sumner's on the left were de- gained by irresolution in striking moralised, and Burnside's was so
the blows which his previous operashaky that, after demanding sup- tions could only have placed him port, he retired, though unassailed, in a good position to deliver. It is to the left bank. McClellan had not that we think him deficient in lost by his own account more than determination_his conduct of the 12,000 men; but he omits to count seven days' retreat, when, fiercely among them about 6000 of Hooker's pressed by an undoubtedly stronger men who abandoned the field, and foe, he kept throughout a firm did not rejoin their colours till the countenance, and
so little 22d.
damaged that at the first pause he Such, then, were the results ac- was ready to resume with spirit his complished by the deliberately ar- advance, proves that disaster and ranged attack of 87,000 men on, at peril cannot daunt him. But his the most, 70,000. They had caused resolution has only been exhibited one wing of the opposing line to in circumstances where there was recede a short distance, at the ex- no alternative, and where to give pense, per contra, of a loss of about way was to be destroyed. It does 20,000 men, and the demoralisation not appear to be of that kind which of part of the
army. Nevertheless, induces great generals to disregard as the Confederates ultimately re- present risk for the sake of adetired, McClellan claims a signal vic- quate future advantage, and which tory. But he tells us, in excusing alone can achieve brilliant strokes himself for not renewing the battle in war. He is eminently a prudent on the 18th, that he expected large and safe general; and it would be reinforcements from Pennsylvania. difficult probably to inflict upon This, which might of itself be a him any disaster which foresight
could prevent; but, on the other explained, is most discreditable to hand, he appears to have radical McClellan, is in his comparison of defects of character which will forces at Antietam. He gives the hinder him from ever achieving following summary :notable successes.
“An estimate of the forces under In support of this estimate, we
the Confederate General Lee, made up would point to his tendency con
by direction of General Banks from instantly to overrate the strength of formation obtained by the examination his adversary—a tendency which is of prisoners, deserters, spies, &c., preabsolutely fatal to enterprise or to vious to the battle of Antietam, is as a happy audacity. On first land- follows :ing in the Peninsula, he immensely General T. J. Jackson's Corps, 24,778 exaggerated the force opposing him James Longstreet's Corps, 23,342 in the lines of Yorktown; and his
D. H. Hill's two divisions, 15,525
J. E. B. Stuart's Cavalry,6,400 false estimate was the means of de
Ransom's and Jenkins's taining him there when some of the Brigades, .
3,000 advantages he had aimed at in his Forty-six regiments not included original plan might have followed Artillery estimated at 400 guns,
6,000 from a bolder course. Throughout his subsequent operations, up to
Total, 97,445 the battle of Gaines' Mill, he was
“These estimates give the actual always crippled by the expectation numbers of men present and fit for of being attacked by superior num- duty. bers; and we have seen that at Our own forces at the battle of South Mountain and Antietam he Antietam were as follows :ridiculously overrated his enemy. 1st Corps,
14,856 The statements by which he sup- 20. Corps,
*18,813 ports his estimates of the enemy's 5th Corps (one div. not arrived), 12,930
12,300 strength and comparative losses in 9th Corps, battle, are, to say the least, uncan- 12th Corps, did. Thus at Fair Oaks hé had at Cavalry Division,
4,320 first four, and afterwards six divi
Total in action, 87,164" sions, against three of the Confederates—viz., Longstreet's, Hill's, Now, when we observe that the and Smith's; and in summing up artillery, liberally estimated at 400 the results of the two days' en
guns, with a further liberal estimate gagement, he gives his own loss as of fifteen men per gun, are counted 5700, the enemy's as 6700. But in on the Confederate side, while none a despatch some days after the bat- appear on his own, and that D. H. tles he places his own losses for the Hill's division, raised from its real two days at 7000. It is probable, number_10,000 to 15,000, formed therefore, that the first more fa- part of Longstreet's corps, and apvourable balance is obtained by pears thus to be counted twice giving the Confederate losses for over, we may well regard with both days, and his own only for the added suspicion the very doubtful first day. For he quotes, in con- item of “forty-six regiments not
' firmation of the Southern casual- included in above," and discredit ties, the report of General John- entirely the preposterous balance ston, the Confederate commander; of 10,000 men on the side of the and it is most likely that the report Confederates in the statement thus would include the two consecutive manufactured with the “examinaengagements, since the intervening tion of prisoners, deserters, spies, night would afford no opportunity &c.," as its trustworthy basis. We for ascertaining and reporting the think, therefore, that we are justiresults of the first action. But the fied in regarding this manner of example of this kind of manipula- measuring bis strength with his tion of numbers which, while un- enemy's as a habit and a great
defect of his mind, and in setting was safe to vent it. Three days aside his own estimates when they after Antietam, when it was certain tell in his favour, especially as we that Lee had re-crossed the Potofind that on one occasion, soon mac, Halleck telegraphs thus, “We
after the commencement of the Pen- are still left entirely in the dark in en insular campaign, the President regard to your own movements and mais points out a discrepancy, in his those of the enemy. This should
statement of his own numbers, of not be so. You should keep me no less than 23,000, which is not advised of both, so far as you know cleared up in the Report.
them.” Whereupon McClellan, no However, whatever faults McClel- doubt invigorated by success, belan might have committed, one fact comes actually resentful. “Your was evident, that he alone had saved telegram of to-day," he replied, "is the Government and the capital, received. I telegraphed you yesperhaps the whole cause of the terday all I knew.
... I regret Union. Of all the Generals who that you find it necessary to couch
crowded into Washington in the every despatch I have the honour 2:19 last calamitous days of August, to receive from you in a spirit of
amidst the wrecks of the corps that fault-finding, and that you have
necessary preliminary he must be it straight upon the enemy,' and shorn of his popularity. If he could regained for the Federal Govern- be made to appear dilatory and inment the control of all the territory capable, the people would soon fornorth of the Potomac. Whereas, get his services, and the best way but for him, history would have to exhibit him in this light was to had a very different picture to deprive him of the power of acting. paint—the Federal army broken, Accordingly his army was kept in
, dispirited, and uncontrollable, per- all respects on a starvation allowhaps
utinous—its chiefs divided ance-regiments were allowed to in council—the Government either remain mere skeletons, the cavalry shut
up in Washington or fugitives and artillery were not re-mounted, -the Confederates unopposed mas- the transport service was below the the rol ters of the country up to the Sus- needs of the army, the men were
quehanna-with all the dissensions kept half-clothed and shoeless, the and anarchy that such calamities accumulation of supplies was insufwould entail on the North. And, ficient to maintain the troops during in the first revulsion after his laté an advance and all the time the alarms, the grateful President thus Secretary for War and General-intelegraphed to McClellan, “ Your Chief were urging the unfortunate despatch of to-day” (about South commander of this force, which they Mountain) "received. God bless were studiously rendering helpless, you, and all with you. Destroy to advance and fight. Even if fully the rebel army if possible.” But equipped and supplied, the troops the jealous dislike of Halleck and could not have been trusted in an Stanton was only restrained till it offensive movement against Lee,