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[176]

Chapter 16: with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley


Some of the troops of General Hunter after his disastrous defeat by Early, had by a circuitous route arrived at Harper's Ferry, and with the two corps returned there, constituted considerable of an army. General Hunter resigned and General Sheridan was sent to command the department constituted as the Middle Military Division, and the army was designated as “The army of the Shenandoah.” It was Sheridan's first independent command, and he was cautioned against attempting any general engagement until his army had become unified in operation, and more developed in morale. He took command on the 7th of August. The army consisted of the 6th and 19th Corps, and the army of West Virginia under General Crook, Averill's cavalry and the cavalry divisions of Torbert and Wilson, sent from the army of the Potomac. In all about thirty thousand men.

A glance at the map, will give some conception of the conditions under which the succeeding operations were carried on. From Harper's Ferry the Potomac River bends to the northwest until only a narrow strip of Maryland lies between it and the border of Pennsylvania. Then it bends slightly southwest to the western limit of the state. This conformation of the country gave to the Confederate army south of the river an advantageous field of operations. Under cover of the river, movements could be freely made to threaten Maryland and Pennsylvania, and Early was a master

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