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[171] brave German, and of General Hunter successively, had cause to regret that the former lost his command by a disastrous conflict with their husbands, brothers and fathers at New Market, where men fought men from “early morn till dewy eve,” and a successor was appointed, who soon enlarged the field of martial enterprise till it embraced as fit objects of his valor and his vengeance the helpless, unarmed and defenseless: decrepid age, gentle womanhood, and innocent childhood sharing alike the unpitying hostility of an army commander whose prototype their Scotch-Irish ancestors had taught them to abhor by the traditions they had brought over of the career of Claverhouse on the Scottish border — a man whose deeds in the end proved no small impediment to the union of England and Scotland, because of the bitter animosities their cruel nature had excited to such a degree that even time had failed to obliterate them.

About the 1st of June, Hunter, having been reinforced to the full extent of Sigel's losses in men and munitions, began his advance upon Strasburg, up the Valley toward Staunton; Averill and Crook moving simultaneously from the Kanawha region, in West Virginia, so as to effect the junction of all their forces about the middle of the month at Staunton, and thence move on Lynchburg. When Hunter tookup his line of march, I had less than one thousand Confederate soldiers in the Valley, General Breckenridge having not only withdrawn his own troops after the battle of New Market, but taking also my largest regiment, the Sixty-second Virginia, to the aid of General Lee, who was sorely pressed by General Grant with overwhelming numbers on that memorable march from the Rappahannock to the James. Having full information of the combined movements of Hunter, Crook, and Averill, and of their strength and purpose to unite in the Valley, I communicated it to General Lee and the Confederate Secretary of War, announcing my utter inability to cope with them successfully with only about one thousand veteran soldiers. General Lee informed me that he could not then send me any assistance from the army near Richmond, but would direct General William E. Jones, who was in Southwestern Virginia, to come to my aid with every available man he could raise; and that I might retard Hunter's advance as much as possible, he ordered me to call out the “reserves” of Rockingham and Augusta counties. These “reserves” were an improvised militia force composed of old men over fifty years of age, and boys between sixteen and eighteen, and were armed with shot-guns, hunting rifles and such odds and ends of firearms as a state of war had scattered through the country. To this order about seven hundred old men and boys responded,

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