independent of McClellan
, and of each other.
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
'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.
'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.
, 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.