July 9th General [HUMPHREYS]:
My leading division is going into camp. A scout sent to me from Kilpatrick reports no enemy at Sharpsburg. A single Confederate soldier was there yesterday. Antietam very high and swift. the scout also reports that he enemy had ceased crossing at Williamsport. he confirms the flat-boat story. I will communicate with Slocum after awhile.
GEO. SYKES, Major-General. Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH CORPS, July 9, 1863.
General HUMPHREYS: A deserter reported to me this morning that the engagement of yesterday was by mounted men-riflemen and sharpshooters being mounted; said it was a reconnaissance, feeling our strength, and retired as soon as they saw the (infantry) re-enforcements approaching.
He says they have a bridge at Williamsport, recently brought from Winchester and put down, and that whole army is on this side of the Potomac, located between Funkstown and Williamsport. He thinks they have taken position beyond the Antietam, their right resting some distance south of Funkstown. Says the men are in good spirits' expect a battle, and think if they can once get us agoing, they can recover all. They have not been informed that Vicksburg has surrendered. I have forwarded this deserter to headquarters. Name, Gacher, from Fitz. Lee's cavalry.
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General.
Meade To Halleck, Middletown, July 9, 1863—11 A. M.
I am still under the impression that Lee's whole army is between Hagerstown and Williamsport, with an advance at Middleburg, on the road to Greencastle, observing Couch.
The state of the river and the difficulty of crossing has rendered it imperative on him to have his army, artillery, and trains ready to receive my attack. I propose to move on a line from Boonsboro' towards the centre of the line from Hagerstown to Williamsport, my flank looking to the river, and my right towards the mountains, keeping the road to Frederick in my rear and centre. I shall try to keep as concentrated as the roads by which I can move will admit, so that, should the enemy attack, I can move to meet; and if he assumes the defensive, I can deploy, as I think proper... It is with the greatest difficulty that I can obtain any reliable information of the enemy.
I think the decisive battle of the war will be fought in a few days. In view of its momentous consequences, I desire to adopt such measures as in my judgment will tend to insure success, even though these may be deemed tardy.
Halleck To Meade, Washington, D. C., July 9, 1863.
The evidence that Lee's army will fight north of the Potomac seems reliable. In that case you will want all your forces in hand… Don't be influenced by any dispatch from here against your own judgment; regard them as suggestions only. Our information here is not always correct.