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[743] follow Jackson. The road up the Page Valley runs along the east side of the main Shenandoah river, which was then impassible except at the bridges. Of these there were but three in the whole length of the Page Valley, two opposite New Market, but a few miles apart, and a third at Conrad's store, opposite Harrisonburg. Jackson promptly burned the first two, and thus left Shields entirely unable to harass his flank or impede his march. Having thus disposed of one of the pursuing armies, he fell back before Fremont by moderate stages, intrusting the protection of his rear to the indefatigable Ashby. As Fremont approached Harrisonburg, on the 6th of June, Jackson left it. Instead of taking the road via Conrad's store to Swift Run gap, as he had done when retreating before Banks, in April, he now took the road to Port Republic, where the branches of the main Shenandoah unite. He next sent a party to burn the bridge at Conrad's store, which afforded the last chance of a union of his adversaries short of Port Republic. The bridge at the latter place, together with a ford on the south, near the smaller of the tributaries which there form the Shenandoah, gave him the means of crossing from one side to the other, which, by the destruction of the other bridges, he had denied to his enemies.

And now came the crowning act of his campaign. When his enemies were already closing in on his rear with overwhelming force he had, with wonderful celerity, passed in safety between them. He had continued his retreat until they were now drawn one hundred miles from the Potomac. A large fraction of his pursuers had given up the chase, and were off his hands. Banks had only come as far as Winchester. Saxton, from Harper's Ferry, had only followed the rear guard under Winder for part of one day, and then went into camp “exhausted,” as he states. McDowell, with two divisions, had remained at Front Royal when Shields moved toward Luray, the latter officer undertaking, with one of his divisions, to “clean out the Valley.” Hence Jackson had now but Fremont's forces, about equal to his own in number, pressing on his rear, while Shields was making his toilsome way up the Page Valley, and was a day or two behind. By laying hold of the bridges he had placed an impassable barrier between his two pursuers, and now he occupied the point where their two routes converged. No further to the rear would the Shenandoah serve as a barrier to their junction, for south of Port Republic its headwaters are easily fordable. Here, too, was Brown's gap near at hand, an easily defended pass in the Blue ridge, and affording a good road out of the Valley in case of need. In this position Jackson determined to stand and fight his enemies in detail.

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