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[142]
Sheridan's operations were characterized not so much, as has been supposed, by any originality of method, as by a just appreciation of the proper manner of combining the two arms of infantry and cavalry. He constantly used his powerful body of horse, which under his disciplined hand attained a high degree of perfection, as an impenetrable mask behind which he screened the execution of maneuvers of infantry columns hurled with a mighty momentum on one of the enemy's flanks. --William Swinton, in Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac.

On July 12, 1864, in the streets of Washington, there could be distinctly heard the boom of cannon and the sharp firing of musketry. The excitement in the city was intense. The old specter “threaten Washington,” that for three years had been a standing menace to the Federal authorities and a “very present help” to the Confederates, now seemed to have come in the flesh. The hopes of the South and the fears of the North were apparently about to be realized.

The occasion of this demonstration before the very gates of the city was the result of General Lee's project to relieve the pressure on his own army, by an invasion of the border States and a threatening attitude toward the Union capital. The plan had worked well before, and Lee believed it again would be effective. Grant was pushing him hard in front of Petersburg. Accordingly, Lee despatched the daring soldier, General Jubal A. Early, to carry the war again to the northward. He was to go by the beautiful and fertile Shenandoah valley, that highway of the Confederates along which the legions of the South had marched and countermarched until it had become almost a beaten track.

With that celerity of movement characteristic of Confederate

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