History of Antietam National Cemetery (Bradford - page 36)
approach, we may imagine to-day, though even now can scarcely appreciate the responsibilities of the Union commander, and understand some of the reasons for what, in the nervous anxiety of that moment, might have been considered by some as too tardy a pursuit. He was, however, on the right track ; the van of his army reached Frederick on the 12th of September, Lee, with the greater part of his command, having left it two days before.
Here, before following the subsequent movements of these armies, allow me to advert briefly to the reception that awaited them respectively on this new theatre of the war on the north of the Potomac. Subsequently, in the course of its progress, Rebel raids and invasions were matters of frequent occurrence, and came to be regarded by us as a thing of course, whenever our usual summer drought reduced the river to a fordable condition; this, however, was our first hostile invasion, and on that and other accounts was regarded by the people of the country, and especially of this State, with absorbing interest and anxiety.
The loyal citizens of the North had been taught to believe that the loyalty of Maryland had at best but an apocryphal existence ; that as a patriotic and spontaneous impulse it was limited to a few, whilst, as regarded the great body of our people, it was but a pretended and superficial display, induced chiefly by the presence of the National force. So confident in the early stages of the rebellion had been the appeals of our secessionists, so exorbitant their claims to an assumed social and commercial importance, and so clamorous their denunciations of what they denominated an odious Federal ban, forcing the action of the people into a channel contrary to its natural inclination, that there seemed for a time some excuse for such an opinion, and a few even of our own citizens, who had not watched that strong patriotic undercurrent on which, as on a full mountain stream, the masses of our people were from the first borne onward, came sometimes themselves to the reluctant conclusion that the outside estimate of our loyalty might possibly be true.
General Lee, doubtless confiding in the same representations, only more highly exaggerated, chanced to select as favorable a moment for himself as possible for putting these theories to the test.
To say nothing of the despondency already noticed, resulting from the recent disappointments, a process had just commenced better calculated than anything that had yet occurred to awaken the people of the country to a practical sense of the grim realities of war. The President on the 1st of July having issued a call for three hundred thousand volunteers, followed it on the 4th of August with an order for the draft of a like number of militia. The preliminary details for that draft had been just completed and the enrolling officers sent forth on their mission as Lee made his appearance north of the Potomac. The order for a draft had
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.