The Civil War, Day by Day

Night Crossing

Night Crossing

Now, General Robert E. Lee stood on the banks of the Potomac River and watched his army withdraw southward into Virginia. Beside him was the silent Stonewall Jackson, who had done so much to assist Lee in the awful conflict waged two days earlier near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Lee had planned an invasion of the North that would take the war to the enemy and produce a great Confederate victory on Northern soil. He yearned for a victory that would result in Southern independence and an end to the war’s shocking harvest. But his invasion had gotten no farther than Maryland. There, on the banks of Antietam Creek, Lee and his heralded Army of Northern Virginia had fought a superior Northern force to a standstill on the bloodiest day of the American Civil War. Lee had stood his ground, but the battle had dealt him an irreplaceable loss: one-fourth of his army. He had managed to regroup and withdraw, crossing the swollen Potomac in the night.

Once his army was safely across, Lee allowed himself to relax. He and his men were back in his beloved Virginia - and they would fight again.

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.