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Chapter 47:

  • Situation in the Shenandoah Valley
  • -- March of General Early -- his force -- attack at Monocacy -- approach to Washington -- the works -- battle at Kernstown -- captures -- outrages of the enemy -- statement of General Early -- retaliation on Chambersburg, Pennsylvania -- battle near Winchester -- Sheridan's forces routed -- attack subsequently renewed with New forces -- incapacity of our opponent -- Early Falls back -- the enemy Retires -- Early advances -- report of a Committee of citizens on losses by Sheridan's orders -- battle at Cedar Creek -- losses, subsequent movements, and captures -- the Red River campaign -- repulse and retreat of General Banks -- capture of Fort Pillow.

Before the opening of the campaign of 1864, the lower Shenandoah Valley was held by a force under General Sigel, with which General Grant decided to renew the attempt which had been made by Crook and Averill to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad west of Lynchburg as a means to his general purpose of isolating Richmond; a prompt movement of General Morgan had defeated those attempts and driven off the invaders. Sigel, with about fifteen thousand men, commenced his movement up the valley of the Shenandoah. Major General Breckinridge, commanding in southwestern Virginia, was notified on May 4th of the movement of Sigel, and started immediately with two brigades of infantry to Staunton, at which place he arrived on the 9th. The reserves of Augusta County, under Colonel Harmon, were called out, numbering several hundred men, and the cadets of the Military Institute at Lexington, numbering two hundred, voluntarily joined him. With this force Breckinridge decided to march to meet Sigel. General Imboden, with a cavalry force of several hundred, had been holding as best he might the upper Valley, and joined Breckinridge in the neighborhood of New Market, informing him that Sigel then occupied that place.

Breckinridge having marched so rapidly from Staunton that it was probable that his advance was unknown to the enemy, he determined to make an immediate attack. His troops were put in motion at one o'clock, and by daylight were in line of battle two miles south of New Market. Sigel seems to have been unconscious of any other obstruction to the capture of Staunton than the small cavalry force under Imboden.

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Sigel (6)
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