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[370] day to ascertain the fate of some of his missing officers, and received for answer that every thing had been done for our wounded that humanity dictates, but that they could hold no further communication with him save by truce-boat on the James. Nevertheless, it was already ascertained by our reconnoissance that a Rebel column of infantry and artillery, moving westward, had been three hours and a half in passing through Sperryville, near the Blue Ridge; so that the Rebel army must be making its way into the Shenandoah Valley once more.

Two days later, 250 Rebel cavalry dashed across the Potomac at Edwards's ferry, driving back part of the 6th Michigan cavalry, picketing the river, and burning their camp — recrossing, of course, but making no haste to quit that neighborhood. It was clear that active hostilities in that direction were meditated.

Still, Howe's division remained across the lower Rappahannock, well intrenched, as were the Rebels in its front; and Gen. Hooker, though he had begun1 to send his sick and wounded to Washington, lingered on the Rappahannock, as if doubtful of Lee's real purpose, and expecting to find him advancing by Warrenton to Bull Run; when a blow was struck that dissipated all reasonable doubt.

Gen. R. H. Milroy was in command in the Valley, holding Winchester, under Gen. Schenck as department commander at Baltimore, to whom Halleck had suggested that Milroy's position seemed perilous; he having too many men to lose, yet not enough to insure his safety. His entire force numbered some 10,000 men, whereof 7,000 may have been considered effective. Of these, one brigade, Col. A. T. McReynolds, was thrown out on his right, holding Berryville, observing the adjacent passes of the Blue Ridge and fords of the Shenandoah; while his cavalry scouts patroled the Valley so far as Front Royal and Strasburg. So early as June 1st, he felt that the enemy holding the Valley above him were inclined to crowd; and, on the 12th, he sent out a strong reconnoissance on either road to ascertain what this meant. That on the Strasburg road went nearly to Middletown, where its troopers decoyed a Rebel cavalry patrol into an ambush, and routed it with a loss of 50 killed and wounded and 37 prisoners. Col. Shawl returned to Winchester, and reported no force on that road which had not been there for months.

On the Front Royal road, the 12th Pennsylvania cavalry, Lt.-Col. Moss, 400 strong, went only to Cedarville, 12 miles, and returned, reporting that they had been stopped by a large Rebel force; but Milroy refused to credit the story; insisting that they had been too easily frightened, and that, if any such force could be there, he should have heard of its approach from Hooker or Halleck; never the less, he advised McReynolds to look sharp. Next morning,2 however, his patrols on the Front Royal road reported the enemy advancing in force; whereupon, Milroy signaled McReynolds to join him, while he sent out a considerable force on either road to learn what was brewing.

They had not far to go. Col. Ely, on the Front Royal road, was stopped barely a mile from Winchester,

1 June 12.

2 June 13.

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