There was, my son, but one army and one general that could save the nation then. General George was that man, and the army was the good old Army of the Potomac. And the government, as if to confess its folly in the past, restored General George to his army. And there was great rejoicing over the land when this good news went forth to the people. And the army took more heart, and rejoiced also; and great was its rejoicing. The soldiers had confidence in him, and knew he could lead them to victory. Then he placed himself at their head and marched out in pursuit of the enemy, who was advancing triumphantly into the North. And who among us can tell what changes there would have been in our political and social condition had not the advance of this bold and triumphant enemy been checked by some strong hand? I have often thought, my son, that if the people of a republic were as ready to credit great men with the good they really do, as they are to search their characters for faults, we should have less pretenders and a better government.
A brighter prospect.
You have here an exact picture of the brave Franklin, who commanded the gallant old Sixth Corps, which deserves a bright place in the history of the Army of the Potomac.
When Pope had finished his job for us, and shown us what a hero he was, the government, in the exercise of its wisdom, sent him into the far West to fight the Indians, where he could, with propriety, establish his headquarters in the saddle.
Franklin, who had been relieved of his command, for no one exactly knew what, was now restored to it, to the great joy of the old Sixth Corps. Soldiers fight better under a general they know and have confidence in; and they are the best judges as to who is the most competent to lead them. Franklin and his gallant corps fell in with the enemy, posted in a strong position on the South Mountain, at Crampton’s Gap, and after a fierce fight, drove him from it and over into the valley, sometimes charging up the steeps with the bayonet. This was quite an important success, my son, since it checked the enemy’s advance, and caused him to fall back on the plains of Antietam, and form his army in line of battle. Indeed, he so far mistook this movement as to believe it an attempt to get in his rear.
This gleam of success, gained by Franklin, inspired the nation with new hope. Yes, my son, and it cheered the hearts of our brave soldiers, restored their strength, and gave them new confidence. Then General George formed his army in line on the plains of Antietam, and a great and bloody battle was fought, and the rebel army beaten and put to flight. Pay no heed, my son, to what the prejudiced may say of this battle. It was one of the greatest battles fought during the war. All honor to the brave soldiers who fought it. Our troops, too, were