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THE WAR IN AMERICA. 4.

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THE WAR IN AMERICA. 4 On the 17th another battle took place. The numbers engaged are not stated, bat the conflict ap- pears to have been very obstinate. It continued from dawn till dusk, and as General M'Clellan esti- mated the loss on his own side to have been from 6,000 to 10,000 men, the battle must have raged I fiercely the whole day. It is assumed that darkness put an end to the struggle, as the two armies re- mained on nearly the same ground they first occupied. There was no immediate retreat, nor yet pursuit. The loss of life is, however, a heavy price for a victory, if victory it may be called, for we are told in the official report the result was not decisive, though the superiority of position remained with the Federals." On the morning of the 18th M'Clellan perceived that the enemy were moving, but he evidently could not follow them closely enough to ascertain in what direction they were going. His official dispatch states I do not know if the enemy is falling back to an interior position, or crossing the river." He is cautious not to claim too much it was only when he knew they were retreating that he says, "We may safely claim the victory for ours," and in a later dispatch, written after he had discovered the direction the Con- federates had taken, that he ventures to announce the victory as complete, adding,—" The enemy is driven back into Virginia Maryland and Pennsyl- vania are now safe." It was no great victory after all; the Confederates appear to have retreated more for a purpose than from obligation. Stonewall Jackson, it is said, conducted the retreat, and got the whole army across the Potomac with but slight loss. Of the Confederate loss in the battle of the previous day no estimate is given. The list of casualties on the Federal side includes so many officers of high rank that it has created a feeling of dismay even in the first flush ot the success. General Mansfield is reported as killed, and no less than 13 other officers of the same rank are returned by name as wounded. Indeed, the loss among the Federal generals and field-officers is so great that the ordi- nary chances and hazards of the battle-field do not account for them, and the public are perplexed by the unusual fatality that attended the conflict. Indeed, the various battles have been most severely contested, and there seems little doubt that the Con- federates will be capable of keeping their own ground for a considerable time, unless sickness should break out in their camp. A correspondent of a morning contemporary, writing from New York, says:- If ever there were a time since the outbreak of the war when the customary brag of the generals, the administration, the press, and the people were out of place, it has been during the present week. A series of obstinate battles have been fought in Maryland, lasting each day from dawn to dark, sacrificing lives in such awful numbers as to merit the epithet of carnage—desperate, bitter, and bloody in the extreme-until on Wednesday night both armies were too exhausted to renew the fight, and rested to bury their dead, supposed to amount to twenty thousand men, equally divided between them On Thursday, according to dispatches from General M'Clellan, published to-day, to the immense delight of the recruits who have not yet gone to the war, of the Wall-street speculators for a rise, and generally of the war party in the city, the battle was not resumed, except in occasional skirmishes of slight importance but in the evening the Con- federates abandoned their position and retreated across the Potomac. Whether M'Clellan will fol- low, as he says he will, remains to be seen. The most that can be said at present is, that the Federal armies were so valiant, so well led, and so favour- ably placed against an enemy equally valiant, equally numerous, and equally well handled, that they inflicted as much damage as they received, and converted into a drawn battle what otherwise might have been a. defeat. But this boast is not sufficient for Washington and New York. The cry la tha.t the Union is restored, that the rebellion is crushed, and that the Confederates are annihilated; the whole of which vaunts are palpably unfounded, and known to be so, even by those who shout them forth most loudly. It is possible that in the desperate battle which ended on Wednesday night between 100,000 men on the Confederate and as many on the Federal side, on a line extending from Leesburg to Hagerstown and Sharpsburg, the Confederates were virtually defeated, as General M'Clellan re- ports. It is also possible that they will make good the retreat into Virginia commenced on Thursday, and defy M'Clellan to follow them; but in neither of these cases, even in the worst that could happen to them—their utter rout or surrender on Virginian ioil-woiild there be an end of the war, or of the hope, the strength, or the determination of the South to achieve its independence. General Hooker has sent an official despatch to General Halleck in the true vein of Bobadil and Pope. General Hooker, who is known to be a gallant soldier, reports a great battle at Centreville, in Maryland (not the better known Centreville of Virginia), which he had the honour to lead off, and which lasted the whole of Tuesday, and until 10 o'clock on Wednesday. He describes the carnage as awful." In claiming the victory he expresses his regret that a wound in his foot prevented him from taking further part in the operations, as he had counted either on capturing the rebel army or driving it into the Potomac." It would have been better, under such circumstances, if he had confined himself to a simple and consise record of the past. The world only wants to know what a General has done, not what he imagines he might have done. Perhaps, had General Hooker not been wounded, he might have discovered later in the day that he had "counted" on too much, and that his opponents might perhaps have captured him, or driven him into the Potomac, just as Captain Bobadil counted on too much when he calculated that his 20 men were always to kill 20 of the enemy, and never dreamed of the possibility of a different catas- trophe. From the voluminous, but imperfect and often contradictory, reports that have been published of the, great events that came to their culmination yesterday, it is evident that the decisive battle of the war has not yet been fought, and that all which has happened up to this time is but preliminary to the final onslaught that is to make or mar M'Clellan, but that is not likely, end how it will, either to make or mar the fortunes of the Confederacy. Disap- pointed in the hope of large accessions to. their strength in Maryland, unable to hold that State in face of an apathetic or timid—or, it might be, hostile people—and aware of the mistake they had made in relying upon support which was not forth- coming, the Confederate Generals appear to have taken their measures to recross the Potomac, with their supplies. If such were their object, M'Clellan, by his march from Washington to. the Monocacy, and by the battles of Hagerstown and Sharpsburg, has very seriously interfered with and retarded the movement; but it does not yet appear that he has prevented it, or that anything he can do will interfere with their pians, whether they be to keep possession of the valley of the Shenan- doah and the commanding position of Harper's Ferry, or to retire upon Manassas. But if the news of their retreat bear the interpretation put upon it by the War-office, Philadelphia, if not Bal- timore and Washington, is safe for the present, and its citizens may once more sleep in peace, and write to New York for the gold and silver plate and other valuables which they transmitted thither for safe keeping. as soon as they heard that the great 44 Stonewall" Jackson was likely to pounce upon them. In this city-so easily are people buoyed up with hope-the retreat of the Confederates is hailed with as much joy as if it really ended the war and the President is urged to be magnanimous in the moment of victory, to issue a proclamation for a general am- nesty, to invite the Southern leaders to return to their allegiance, and support the Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is," to fraternise with Jefferson Davis, to let all bygones be bygones, and to wind up affairs amid a blaze of rejoicing, prepa- ratory to the next great movement for the absorp- tion of British America and Mexico. In such a moment the little matter of the debt of both parties is too trivial for consideration. To-morrow's affairs may wear a different asp act, but till then couleur de sang is couleur de rose, and optimism and brag are lords of the ascendant.

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