to use these forces in an attack upon the Valley
for the purpose of seizing, fortifying and holding Winchester
, and thus dominating all of northeastern Virginia
, and at the same time threatening Johnston
's position at Manassas
These intentions of the enemy were speedily frustrated by Jackson
, when, on the 1st of January, 1862, a bright and pleasant day, his army started for Bath
, near the line of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.
The army consisted of his own old brigade, commanded by Gen. R. B. Garnett
, the three brigades under Loring
, a part of the militia, five batteries, and most of Ashby
's regiment of cavalry, the whole numbering about 9,000 men. This movement against Bath
, if successful, would disperse the enemy at Hancock
, destroy communication between General Banks
on the east and General Kelley
on the west, and by threatening the latter's rear, force him to evacuate Romney
or contend with a superior force.
Before the first day ended a cold storm set in from the northwest, the beginning of a protracted period of very inclement weather.
The second day the storm continued, and the trains were delayed by icy mountain roads, byways having been chosen, instead of following the great turnpike, to conceal the movement.
As the trains could not get up, the troops were forced to pass the night of the 2d near Unger
's, without rations and many of them without covering.
On the morning of the 3d the wagons came up, and after a short delay for cooking and eating, the march was resumed.
Later that day snow and sleet set in, adding to the discomfort of the army and making the roads so slippery that the wagons were again unable to keep up. That night was spent in the midst of the storm about four miles southwest of Bath
The advance had dispersed and captured some of a scouting party of the enemy.
On the morning of the 4th, Jackson
disposed his forces to surround Bath
, sending a detachment across the mountain to the left in order to make a flank movement from the west, the main body pushing along the direct road with regiments thrown out on the right and left as flankers.
Exhausted by the cold and suffering of the preceding days, and especially by the storm of the night before, the troops moved slowly, greatly hindered by the ice and frozen sleet that covered the ground, so that a large part of the day was consumed before the Confederates
, led by Lieut.