had been left at Manassas
, and that all the forces operating along the line of the Alleghenies
, southwest of Winchester
, and lately commanded by General Lee
, should be concentrated under his command.
This would have given him fifteen thousand or sixteen thousand men, the least force with which he thought it possible to undertake so bold an enterprise.
His wishes were complied with in part.
His own brigade was promptly sent to him, and one of the brigades of Loring
's troops (General Loring
had succeeded General Lee
) reached him early in December.
Subsequently two more brigades, under General Loring
himself, were added, but all these troops only increased the small force of three thousand State militia, which he had assembled in the district itself, to about eleven thousand men. The greater part of General Loring
's force did not arrive at Winchester
, thus preventing any important movements during November and December.
But, meantime, Jackson
was not idle.
He spent the time in organizing, equipping, and drilling the militia and the scattered cavalry commands, which he consolidated into a regiment under Colonel Ashby
, and sent expeditions against the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
, by breaking which he annoyed the enemy, and interrupted an important line of communication.
By the last week in December, all the troops that the War Department thought it judicious to spare him had arrived, and, though the season was far advanced, he determined at once to assume the offensive.
The winter had so far been mild, the roads were in excellent condition, and though his force was not large enough for the recovery of West Virginia
, important advantages seemed within reach.
The forces and positions of the enemy opposed to Jackson
at the beginning of 1862 were as follows: General Banks
, commanding the Fifth Corps of McClellan
's army, with headquarters at Frederick, Md.
, had sixteen thousand effective men, the greater part of whom were in winter quarters, near that city, while the remainder guarded the Potomac
from Harper's Ferry
; General Rosecrans
, still holding command of the Department of West Virginia, had twenty-two thousand men scattered over that region, but was concentrating them on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
He says, in his testimony (see Report of Committee on the Conduct of the War
, 1865, Volume III.):
On the 6th of December, satisfied that the condition of the roads over the Alleghenies into Western Virginia, as well as the scarcity of the subsistence and horse feed, would preclude any serious operations of the enemy against us until the opening of the spring, I began quietly and secretly to assemble all the spare troops