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to say one word in commendation of the recent achievements of this army, or even to allude to them.”
On the same 19th of September, in the midst of his onerous cares and labors, General McClellan found time to send another despatch to the commander-in-chief, as an act of prompt justice to a brave officer. It was as follows:
“HEAD-QUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, September 19. “As an act of justice to the merits of that most excellent officer, Major-General Joseph Hooker, who was eminently conspicuous for his gallantry and ability as a leader in several hard-fought battles in Virginia, and who in the battle of Antietam Creek, on the 17th inst., was wounded at the head of his corps while leading it forward in action, I most urgently recommend him for the appointment of brigadier-general in the United States Army, to fill the vacancy created by the death of the late BrigadierGeneral Mansfield. This would be but a fit reward for the service General Hooker rendered his country. I feel sure his appointment would gratify the whole army.
“GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
“Major-General. "Major-General H. W. HALLECK,
This suggestion was adopted, and General Hooker was made a brigadier-general in the regular army of the United States, his commission bearing date September 2, 1862.
The result of the victories at South Mountain and Antietam was to drive the enemy from Maryland, to secure Pennsylvania from invasion, and to put Harper's Ferry once more into our possession.
This was much to have been done in a fortnight's time by an army in the shattered and demoralized condition that General McClellan's was in when he took it in hand on the second day of September. How strong a sense of the value of these services was felt by those who were most nearly interested may be learned by an executive order of the Governor of Maryland, as follows:
“ STATE OF MARYLAND, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
ANNAPOLIS, September 29, 1862. “The expulsion of the rebel army from the soil of Maryland should not be suffered to pass without a proper acknowledgment, and the cordial thanks of her authorities to those who were chiefly instrumental in compelling that evacuation.
“I would tender, therefore, on behalf of the State of Maryland, to Major-General McClellan, and the gallant officers and men under his command, my earnest and hearty thanks for the distinguished courage, skill, and gallantry with which the achievement was accomplished. It reflects a lustre upon the ability of the commander-inchief, and the heroism and endurance of his followers, that the country everywhere recognizes, and that even our enemies are constrained to acknowledge.
“ A. W. BRADFORD. “ By the Governor: “ Wm. B. Hill,
Secretary of State.”
It now became a grave question with General McClellan whether or not he should pursue the retreating enemy into Virginia. Our losses had been heavy; the army was greatly exhausted by hard work, fatiguing marches, hunger, and want of sleep. Many of the troops were new levies; and, though they had fought well, they had not the steadiness and discipline that were needed for an expedition so formidable. The means of transportation at posal, on the 19th of September, were not enough to furnish a single day's subsistence in advance. Under these circumstances, General McClellan did not deem it wise to cross the river with his army, over a deep and difficult ford, in pursuit of a retreating enemy, and thus place between himself and his base of supplies a stream liable at any time to rise above a fording stage.
This decision was made known to the authorities at Washington, and they were duly informed of the movements of our own troops, and of those of the enemy, as far as the latter could be ascertained. The commander-in-chief, to whom, in general, the communications were addressed, was urged to push forward all the old troops that could be dispensed with around Washington and other places, so that the old skeleton regiments might be filled up at once, , and officers appointed to supply the numerous exist
ing vacancies. The work of reorganizing, drilling, and supplying the army was begun at the earliest moment. The different corps were stationed along the river in the best position to cover and guard the fords. Reconnoissances upon the Virginia side of the Potomac, for the purpose of learning the enemy's positions and movements, were frequently made. This was a trying and exhausting service for our cavalry, with which the army was inadequately supplied.
On the first day of October the President of the United States paid a visit to the Army of the Potomac, and remained several days, during which time he passed through the different encampments, reviewed the troops, and went over the battle-fields of South Mountain and Antietam. During this visit, General McClellan explained to him fully, in conversation, the movements of the army since it had left Washington, and gave the reasons why the enemy was not pursued after he had crossed the Potomac.
The twenty-second day of September, 1862, was a memorable day in the history of the war and the history of the country; for on that day the President issued his proclamation in which he announced that on the first day of January, 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof should then be in rebellion against the United States, should be thenceforth and forever free. All discussion of the expediency of this proclamation, or of its legal effect, would be inopportune; but
it will be admitted, alike by those who approve and those who disapprove it, that it gave a new character to the war and changed its objects. It is hardly necessary to add that this proclamation became at once, throughout the country, a subject of earnest debate and vehement controversy, which have, indeed, continued to the present time. From the character of the men composing the Army of the Potomac, who were voters and citizens as well as soldiers, accustomed to read the newspapers and talk politics, it was obvious that the same division of opinion upon the President's proclamation would be found among them as was found in the public at large; and there was danger that this conflict of views might impair that unity of action and patriotic zeal which are so essential to the success of all military movements. General McClellan felt himself called upon to remind the officers and soldiers under his command of the relations between the civil authorities and the military forces of the country, and of the duties of the latter in regard to the political questions of the day and the path of civil policy marked out by the Government; and he may have done this with the more promptness and emphasis from the fact that he was known not to belong to that party by whose influence the proclamation had been extorted from a too-yielding President. With these views, the following general order was issued, which may unhesitatingly be pronounced admirable alike in substance and in form, animated by a high-toned patriotism, defining with precision the line where the duty of the citi