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[318]

But General Breckinridge's stay with the Army of Northern Virginia was brief. Within a few days the intelligence came that General Hunter, reinforcing and superseding Siegel, had advanced up the Valley and taken Staunton. General Breckinridge was accordingly ordered to return with his force to the Valley and regain it, or protect Charlottesville and the country east of the Blue Ridge. His command moved by way of Richmond, Lynchburg and Charlottesville, to Rockfish gap, where the railroad from Staunton to Charlottesville crosses the Blue Ridge. While preparing to move on Hunter, General Breckinridge received information that the latter was moving to Lexington. Divining his purpose to be to attack Lynchburg, General Breckinridge, instead of pursuing, wisely concluded to get ahead of him; and to this end, marched to Lynchburg by the arc of the circle, through the counties of Nelson and Amherst. His interpretation of Hunter's design was correct, since he had scarcely reached Lynchburg before it was announced that Hunter was within a day's march. Fortunately, General Early, who had started for a diversion towards Maryland, also arrived with a portion of his corps the next day, and when Hunter appeared before the place, instead of finding it unprotected, he found a well organized force to defend it. On the 19th of June he made an attack, but was repulsed, and immediately began to retreat the same night. General Early, being the senior officer, directed the pursuit — his own and General Breckinridge's command following next morning. Having no adequate cavalry force, Hunter was enabled to escape, going by way of Buford's gap and thence to Salem, from which he left the Valley and moved towards the Kanawha by a rough and tedious route. From Salem, Early moved down the Valley, and on the 3d of July, having made a remarkable march, General Breckinridge, after a slight engagement, captured Martinsburg, General Siegel being again taken by surprise and barely escaping being a prisoner.

General Breckinridge's command was now temporarily changed. Before Early's arrival he had been in command of all the forces in the Valley. For purposes of better organization, he turned over to General Early all the cavalry, of which two brigades had arrived from Southwest Virginia--Vaughan's and McCausland's (late Jenkins'). In lieu of this, Major-General J. B. Gordon's division of infantry was assigned to him, and with Echols' division (Echols' and Wharton's brigades) formed into a corps — so that Early's command at this time consisted as follows: Breckinridge's corps of

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