back to top
|When Lee received Jackson’s report on the morning of the 15th, he had already modified his plan to withdraw Longstreet and D. H. Hill to Virginia immediately, and ordered both commands to halt behind Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg. Here he would wait to see how McClellan responded to his success at South Mountain. If he pressed hard, Longstreet and Hill could still withdraw to Virginia. But if he moved cautiously, Lee might be able to concentrate his army and offer battle in Maryland. The reasons and the wisdom of Lee’s decision to try and make a stand in Maryland have been debated ever since. He never fully explained his reasons but by remaining in Maryland and hazarding a battle he kept alive the possibilities the Maryland invasion had promised. If he could check McClellan and the Federals withdrew, then operations could be maintained on the Confederate frontier north of the Potomac and pressure continued on the North. If he withdrew to Virginia those opportunities were lost.