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Williamsport, Maryland, to Lexington, Virginia, was built at an early day to connect the interior of the latter State with the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, and along this road are situated the principal towns and villages of the Shenandoah Valley, with lateral lines of communication extending to the mountain ranges on the east and west. The roads running toward the Blue Ridge are nearly all macadamized, and the principal ones lead to the railroad system of eastern Virginia through Snicker's, Ashby's Manassas, Chester, Thornton's Swift Run, Brown's and Rock-fish gaps, tending to an ultimate centre at Richmond. These gaps are low and easy, offering little obstruction to the march of an army coming from eastern Virginia, and thus the Union troops operating west of the Blue Ridge were always subjected to the perils of a flank attack; for the Confederates could readily be brought by rail to Gordonsville and Charlottesville, from which points they could move with such celerity through the