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[729]
After it had become evident that the Valley was to be invaded by an army too strong to be encountered by Jackson's Division, that officer was instructed to endeavor to employ the invaders in the Valley, but without exposing himself to the danger of defeat, by keeping so near the enemy as to prevent him from making any considerable detachment to reinforce McClellan, but not so near that he might be compelled to fight.

At this-time Jackson's entire force did not amount to four thousand men, exclusive of the remnants of the militia brigades, which were not employed any more in active service. It consisted of the five regiments of his old brigade, now under Garnet, of three regiments and one battalion under Burks, and of two regiments under Fulkerson. He had also five batteries and Ashby's regiment of cavalry. General Banks had his own division, under Williams, and Shields' (late Lander's troops) Division, now incorporated in his corps. Two brigades of Sedgwick's were also with him when he crossed the Potomac. On the 1st of April the strength of Banks' corps, embracing Shields, is given by General McClellan at twenty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-nine, including three thousand six hundred and fifty-two cavalry, and excluding two thousand one hundred railroad guards. If Sedgwick's Brigades continued with him in his advance on Winchester his entire force was over twenty-five thousand. Jackson sent his stores, baggage and sick to. the rear, but continued to hold his position at Winchester to the last moment.

Banks occupied Charlestown on the 26th of February, but only reached Stephenson's, four miles north of Winchester, on March 7th. Here Jackson drew up his little force in line of battle to meet him, but the Federals withdrew without attacking. The activity of Ashby, and the boldness with which Jackson maintained his position, impressed his adversary with greatly exaggerated notions of his strength. Banks advanced in a cautious and wary manner, refusing to attack, but pushing forward his left wing so as to threaten Jackson's flank and rear. By the 11th of March, the movement had gone so far that it was not longer safe for the Confederates to hold Winchester. Jackson remained under arms all day waiting an attack in front, but none was made, and late in the afternoon he ordered trains and troops into camp near the south end of the town. By some mistake the trains went on six miles further, and the troops had to follow. Jackson called a council of his chief officers — the first and last time, it is to be believed, that he ever summoned a council of war--to meet after dark in Winchester, and proposed to them a night attack upon Banks. His proposition was not approved, and he learned then for the first time that the troops were already six miles from Winchester

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