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[23] whole length of the Page Valley--two opposite New Market, but a few miles apart, and a third at Conrad's store, opposite Harrisonburg. Jackson promptly burned the first two, and thus left Shields with an impassable river between them, entirely unable to harass his flank or impede his march. Having thus disposed of one of the pursuing armies, he fell back before Fremont by moderate stages, entrusting the protection of the rear to the indefatigable Ashby. As Fremont approached Harrisonburg on the 6th of June, Jackson left it. Instead of taking the road via Conrad's store to Swift Run Gap, as he had done when retreating before Banks in April, he now took the road to Port Republic, where the branches of the main Shenandoah unite. He next sent a party to burn the bridge at Conrad's store, which afforded the last chance of a union of his adversaries north of Port Republic. The bridge at the latter place, togther with a ford on the South river — the smaller of the tributaries which there form the Shenandoah — gave him the means of crossing from one side to the other — of which by the destruction of the other bridges he had deprived his enemies.

And now came the crowning act of his campaign. When his enemies were already closing in on his rear with overwhelming force, he had with wonderful celerity passed in safety between them. He had continued his retreat until they were now drawn one hundred miles from the Potomac. A large fraction of his pursuers had given up the chase, and were off his hands. Banks had only come as far as Winchester. Saxton from Harper's Ferry had only followed the rear guard under Winder for part of one day, and had then gone into camp, “exhausted,” as he states. McDowell, with two divisions, had remained at Front Royal when Shields moved towards Luray — the latter officer undertaking with his one division to “clean out the Valley.” Hence Jackson had now but Fremont's forces, about equal to his own in number, pressing on his rear, while Shields was making his toilsome way up the Page Valley, and was a day or two behind.

By laying hold of the bridges he had placed an impassable barrier between his two pursuers, and now he occupied the point where their two routes converged. No further to the rear would the Shenandoah serve as a barrier to their junction, for south of Port Republic its head waters are easly fordable. Here, too, was Brown's Gap near at hand, an easily defended pass in the Blue Ridge, and affording a good route out of the Valley in case of need.

In this position Jackson determined to stand and fight his adversaries in detail.

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