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[531] and skilfully to send another army of invasion into the Northern States.

Operations West of the Blue Ridge.

At the last reference to operations west of the Blue Ridge, Gen. Hunter--the same who had made himself famous by his negrophilism in the department of Beaufort, South Carolina-had taken command of the Federal forces there, and was about to enter upon an enlarged campaign. That campaign was dictated by Grant. It indicated the extension of the auxiliary movement against Richmond to as many points as Staunton, Lynchburg, Charlottesville and Gordonsville — the general design being to cut the communications of Richmond, in view of which Hunter was to move on the point that best invited attack.

West of the Blue Ridge the Confederate force was small, disarranged, and altogether unequal to meet these formidable enterprises of the enemy. It consisted of a few small brigades of inferiour cavalry, about two regiments of infantry, and a small brigade (Vaughan's) of dismounted troops acting as infantry. To supply the place of Breckinridge, who had gone to the Richmond arid Petersburg lines, McCausland's little force, from Dublin, was sent to the front of Staunton, and Gen. William E. Jones was ordered to take all the troops he could move from Southwestern Virginia to the same position in the lower valley. Accordingly, Gen. Jones not only got together all the infantry west of the New River, but having dismounted Vaughan's brigade of cavalry also, took all to Staunton, leaving nothing in the extreme southwest but a few disjointed bodies of cavalry and Morgan's command to meet Burbridge, coming in from Kentucky.

Gen. Hunter, having received his instructions from Grant, immediately took up the offensive, and moving up the Shenandoah Valley, met Jones' little command, on the 5th June, at Piedmont. Here the Confederates were overpowered with the loss of more than one thousand prisoners, and of their commander, who, with hat in hand, was cheering his men when he fell, pierced through his head by a minie ball. On the 8th, Hunter formed a junction with Crook and Averill at Staunton, from which place he moved, by way of Lexington, direct on Lynchburg. He reached this place on the 16th June.

It now became necessary for Gen. Lee to detach a considerable portion of his force to meet this distant demonstration of the enemy, and to select a commander, the decision, energy and rapidity of whose movements might overthrow Hunter, and possibly make an opportunity to pass a column, however small, through the Valley of Virginia to threaten the Federal capital. For this work Gen. Early was selected. He had latterly commanded

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