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[15] toilsome. More than two days were consumed in going fifteen miles. Meantime Ashby was demonstrating against the enemy, and keeping Jackson's line close to prevent information from getting through. At Port Republic the army turned short to the left, and leaving the Shenandoah Valley altogether crossed Brown's Gap in the Blue Ridge, and marched to Mechum's River station on the Virginia Central railroad. Thence by road and rail it was rapidly moved to Staunton, and by the evening of May 5th it had all reached that point. The movement by this devious route mystified friends as well as foes. One day is given to rest, and on the next Jackson hurries forward, unites Johnson's troops with his own, drives in the Federal pickets and foraging parties, and camps twenty-five miles west of Staunton. On the morrow (May 8th) he pushes on to McDowell, seizes Sitlington's hill, which commands the town and the enemy's camp, and makes his dispositions to seize the road in rear of the enemy during the night. But Milroy and Schenck have united, and seeing their position untenable, make a fierce attack in the afternoon to retake the hill or cover their retreat. For three or four hours a bloody struggle takes place on the brow of Sitlington's hill. The Federals, though inflicting severe loss, are repulsed at every point, and at nightfall quietly withdraw.1 They light their camp fires, and in the darkness evacuate the town. They retreat twenty-four miles to Franklin, in Pendleton county, where they meet Fremont advancing with the main body of his forces. Jackson follows to this point; has found it impossible to attack the retreating foe to advantage, and now deems it inadvisable to attempt anything further in this difficult country, with his 10,000 men against Fremont's 14,000 or 15,000. Screening completely his movements from Fremont with cavalry, he turns back (May 13th), marches rapidly to within seventeen miles of Staunton,. then turns towards Harrisonburg, and dispatches General Ewell that he is on his way to attack Banks with their united forces.

Meantime, important changes have taken place in the disposition of the Federal troops in the Valley. McClellan is calling for more troops, and complaining that McDowell is withheld. The latter having gathered Abercrombie's and other scattered commands from the country in front of Washington into a new division to replace one sent to McClellan, now lies at Fredericksburg, impatient to take part in the movement on Richmond. Banks, hearing of

1 Schenck's report — Rebellion Record, volume V. He puts his total loss at 256. Jackson's loss was 461; see his report.

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