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[528] Waters, back to Charlestown and Harper's Ferry. 'Twas here General Jackson left us, having heard of the Federals reoccupying Front Royal; and then came our trials. As soon as the enemy found that Jackson had started back up the Valley, their cavalry became very enterprising and bold, and hung closely to our rear, annoying us by day and night. Jackson, thewagon hunter,” never gave up one after it came into his possession. If a tire came off a wagon, he would stop the whole train and wait for it to be fixed on, and let the “rear guard” hold its position. A man who never served in the cavalry under Jackson knows little of what was required of them. We skirmished all day and half the night, retiring en echelon. There was one eternal picking at each other. The artillery would seize a position and hold it as long as they could, then fall back to another, covered by the cavalry. I do not believe the world has ever produced a grander, braver, nobler band of patriotic soldiers than the artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia. On this retreat General George H. Steuart had command of the Second Virginia and the Sixth Virginia cavalry. Colonel Turner Ashby, just promoted, had his twenty-six companies of cavalry, but there was no concert between Ashby and Steuart.

General G. H. Steuart, a good infantry officer, was relieved from the cavalry regiments by urgent request, and they ordered to Ashby, after which time there were no more of the many blunders previously committed. Ashby had been a full colonel but a short time. The companies composing his command were generally recruited from the border counties all along the northern and western lines. They had never been in a camp of instruction. Many of them could not perform the simplest evolutions in company drill. Provided with just such arms as they could pick up, with no organization, it was simply impossible for him to do anything with them but to lead them. He complained bitterly in conversations with me, and said he had no help and no opportunity. A company was recruited in one of the border counties, and there it. stayed after the Valley was left by Jackson.

I had the honor to serve with all of our best officers of the cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia. I have the highest admiration and affection for most of them, and would not detract from the glory that any of them have, but venture this tribute to Ashby, because I believe he was the peer of any and deserves equal praise. He was as brave and as modest about it as Hampton, with all the dash and fire of Fitz. Lee or Stuart. Neither of them had a


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T. J. Jackson (5)
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