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The panic throughout southern Pennsylvania had ere this become intensified. Gen. Couch, commanding there, was assured that a great Rebel army of invasion was marching on Pittsburg; and that city renewed the defensive efforts of the year before. The guerrilla John S. Moseby, with 50 men, dashed across the Potomac at Cheat ferry, surprising and capturing at Adamstown nearly his own number of horsemen, and robbed a few stores; and, though he ran back instantly, his trifling raid was magnified into a vague and gloomy significance.

Neither the 6th nor the 19th corps had proceeded farther than Georgetown, D. C., when Crook's defeat and its consequences impelled them in quite another direction than that of Petersburg. Moving1 by Rockville and Frederick, they had reached Harper's Ferry, and there met Crook, with part of Hunter's long expected infantry, on the day Chambersburg was burned; and now, with an immense train, the whole force was started on a wild-goose-chase after Early, who was supposed to be laying waste southern Pennsylvania.

Gen. Kelley, commanding at Cumberland, had undertaken to stop Johnson's raiders as they passed him on their retreat, and had a smart skirmish with them at Falck's mill, in which he claimed the advantage; but Col. Stough, with 500 men, sent to Oldtown to intercept them, had there been routed, after a short skirmish; himself and 90 men being captured. The enemy retreated up the south branch of the Potomac, pursued by Averill, who struck2 them near Moorefield, routing them, with a loss of but 50 on our side; Averill capturing their guns, wagons, and 500 prisoners.

Gen. Grant had already sent3 Sheridan to Washington, with intent to have him placed in charge of our distracted operations on the Potomac and Shenandoah; and he now came up4 himself, to obtain, if possible, a better understanding of what was going on. In his conference with Hunter, that officer expressed a willingness to be relieved, if that were deemed desirable; and Grant at once telegraphed to Washington to have Sheridan sent up to Harper's Ferry; himself awaiting there that officer's arrival. An order soon appeared5 appointing Maj.-Gen. Philip H. Sheridan commander of the new “ Middle Department,” composed of the late Departments of West Virginia, Washington, and Susquehanna; and two divisions of cavalry (Torbert's and Wilson's) were soon sent him by Grant; raising his force to nearly 30,000 men; while Early's, confronting him, can hardly have exceeded 20,000.6

It was no fault of Sheridan's that his accession to command was not immediately followed by a vigorous offensive. Doubtless, his motley forces needed to be better compacted and fitted together; but, under skillful and capable leadership, they would attain this most rapidly in the field. Yet there had been so much failure and disappointment in this quarter, while the

1 July 26.

2 Aug. 4.

3 Aug. 2.

4 Aug. 4.

5 Aug. 7.

6 There was, in 1865, a spicy newspaper controversy between these Generals touching their respective strength in their Valley campaign. Early made his force scarcely half so numerous as Sheridan's. Sheridan rejoined that the prisoners taken by him from Early exceeded the number to which that General limited his entire command.

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