previous next
[734] independent of McClellan, and of each other. General Banks followed Jackson but slowly. He reached Woodstock on April 1st, and having pushed back Ashby's cavalry to Edinburg, five miles beyond, he attempted no further serious advance until the 17th. He then moved forward in force and Jackson retired to Harrisonburg, where he turned at right angles to the left, and crossing the main fork of the Shenandoah at Conrad's store, took up his position at the western base of the Blue ridge mountains, in Swift Run gap. This camp the Confederates reached on the 20th of April, and here they remained through ten days more of rain and mud.

Meantime, the advance of McClellan up the Peninsula had begun in earnest. General J. E. Johnston had transferred the mass of his army to the front of Richmond, and had taken command there in person. Ewell's Division alone remained on the Rappahannock to watch the enemy there, and to aid Jackson in case of need. This division was now near Gordonsville, and a good road from that point through Swift Run gap placed it within easy reach of Jackson. The latter, conscious of his inability with five or six thousand men (his force had nearly doubled since Kernstown by the return of furloughed men and by new enlistments) to resist in the open country the advance of Banks, had availed himself of the nature of the country to take a position where he could be attacked only at great disadvantage, and yet might threaten the flank or rear of the advancing column if it attempted to pass him. The main Shenandoah river covered his front — a stream not easily fordable at any time, and now swollen by the spring rains. The spurs of the mountains, as they run out toward this river, afford almost impregnable positions for defense, his flank could only be turned by toilsome, exposed marches, while good roads led from his rear to General Ewell. Thus, secure in his position, Jackson at the same time more effectually prevented the further advance of the Federal column than if he had remained in its front. For he held the bridge over the Shenandoah and was but a day's march from Harrisonburg, and should Banks venture to move forward toward Staunton, he was ready to hurl the Confederate forces against his enemy's flank and rear. General Banks, at Harrisonburg, was in the midst of a hostile country, and already one hundred miles from the Potomac, at Harper's Ferry, with which a long line of wagon communication had to be maintained. To push on to Staunton, with Jackson on his flank or rear, was virtually to sacrifice his present line of communication with no practicable substitute in view; to attack the Confederates on the slopes of the mountains, with even a greatly superior force, was to risk defeat.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
T. J. Jackson (6)
Banks (4)
H. B. McClellan (2)
Ewell (2)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Conrad (1)
Turner Ashby (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 20th (1)
April 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: