district, and his headquarters were established within musket-shot of Fort Loudoun
He had been made Major General
on October 7 for his services at the first battle of Manassas
, and was now assigned to this important command because of the expectations formed of his capacity, and because of his acquaintance with the country.
His district embraced the territory bounded north by the Potomac
, east by the Blue Ridge
, and west by the Alleghanies
Born and reared in Western Virginia
, and filled with a patriot's devotion to the land of his birth, he had manifested a strong desire to be employed in the operations in that region, and had cherished the ambition of freeing his former home from hostile domination.
The Confederates, during the summer, had in that region been unsuccessful.
General Robert Garnett
had been forced to retreat by General McClellan
, and had then met defeat and death at Corrick's Ford on Cheat river
, July 13th.
This gave the Federals
control of the greater part of Virginia
west of the Alleghanies
, and the subsequent efforts of Generals Floyd
, and still later of General Lee
, availed only to prevent further encroachments of the enemy — not to regain the lost territory.
When, therefore, General Jackson
assumed command of the Valley of Virginia
, the enemy had possession of all the State
north of the Great Kanawha
and west of the Alleghanies
, and had pushed their outposts into that mountain region itself, and in some cases eastward of the main range.
Thus, General Kelly
had captured Romney
, the county seat of Hampshire
, forty miles west of Winchester
, and now occupied it with a force of 5,000 men.1
This movement gave the Federals
control of the fertile valley of the south branch of the Potomac
Another, though much smaller force, occupied Bath
, the county seat of Morgan
, forty miles due north of Winchester
, while the north bank of the Potomac
was everywhere guarded by Union troops.
The Baltimore and Ohio railroad was open and available for the supply of the Federal
troops from Baltimore
to Harper's Ferry
, and again from a point opposite Hancock
The section of this road of about forty miles from Harper's Ferry
, lying for the most part some distance within the Virginia
border, had been interrupted and rendered useless by the Confederates
, but this gap was now supplied by the Chesapeake and Ohio canal
, which was open all the way from Cumberland, Maryland
, to Georgetown
in the District of Columbia.