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[731] expected to leave for Harper's Ferry the next day. This information, transmitted to Jackson, caused the latter to push on with all haste the next morning. At daylight he sent three companies of infantry to reinforce Ashby, and followed with his whole force. He reached Kernstown at two P. M., after a march of fourteen miles. General Shields had made his dispositions to meet attack, by advancing Kimball's Brigade of four regiments and Daum's Artillery to the vicinity of Kernstown. Sullivan's Brigade of four regiments was posted in rear of Kimball, and Tyler's Brigade of five regiments, with Broadhead's cavalry, was held in reserve. Ashby kept up an active skirmish with the advance of Shields' force during the forenoon.

But, though thus making ready, the Federal generals did not expect an attack in earnest. Shields says he had the country, in front and flank, carefully reconnoitred during the forenoon on the 23d of March, and the officers in charge reported “no indications of any hostile force except that of Ashby.” Shields continues:

I communicated this information to Major General Banks, who was then with me, and, after consulting together, we both concluded that Jackson could not be tempted to hazard himself so far away from his main support. Having both come to this conclusion, General Banks took his departure for Washington (being already under orders to that effect). The officers of his staff, however, remained behind, intending to leave for Centreville in the afternoon.

When Jackson reached Kernstown, his troops were very weary. Three-fourths of them had marched thirty-six miles since the preceding morning. He, therefore, gave directions for bivouacking, and says:

Though it was very desirable to prevent the enemy from leaving the Valley, yet I deemed it best not to attack until morning. But, subsequently ascertaining that the Federals had a position from which our forces could be seen, I concluded that it would be dangerous to postpone the attack until the next day, as reinforcements might be brought up during the night.

Jackson, therefore, led his men to the attack. His plan was to gain the ridge upon which the Federal right flank rested, turn that flank, and get command of the road from Kernstown to Winchester, in the enemy's rear. He gained the top of the ridge, but Shields was able to hold him in check until Tyler's Brigade and other troops could be hurried to that flank, when Jackson, in turn, became the attacked party. For three hours of this Sunday afternoon the sanguinary and stubborn contest continued. The left half of the Confederate line was perpendicular to the ridge; the right half, which was mainly composed of artillery, ran along the ridge to the rear, and

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James Shields (5)
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