Despite Lincoln’s urgings, General George McClellan’s Army remained disengaged with the enemy in mid-October 1862. Lincoln himself calculated that the Army of the Potomac had a total of over 231,000 men, of whom 144,000 plus were fit for duty. The president could not understand McClellan’s procrastination.
On Thursday, October 16, McClellan did order two major Union reconnaissance from Sharpsburg, Maryland, where numerous units of his army remained after the battle of Antietam to Smithfield in western Virginia and from Harper’s Ferry, his headquarters, to Charles Town, in western Virginia. These two reconnaissance involving thousands of troops resulted in minor skirmishing with Lee’s army. Actions such as these did not endear McClellan to Lincoln, who wanted McClellan to use the whole of his army against Lee’s Confederates.