hold that lovely country with a small force, ordered Banks
to cross the Blue ridge
, establish and strongly intrench his command at and near Manassas
, and proceed to open the railway from Washington
to that point and thence to Strasburg
; then intrench a brigade of infantry with two batteries, near Front Royal
, where the railway crosses the Shenandoah
; intrench another brigade at Strasburg
; build and occupy blockhouses at the railway bridges; leave two regiments of cavalry at Winchester
, and keep his front covered by constantly employed cavalry well advanced—‘the general object being to cover the line of the Potomac
,’ and, he doubtless mentally added, protect the right of the army moving toward Fredericksburg
hastened to comply with these orders.
' division was recalled from Strasburg
, and on the 20th, Williams
' division took up its line of march for Manassas
, who kept up a constant skirmish with the Federal
advance between Woodstock
, routing its pickets and peering into its camps, reported to Jackson
on the evening of March 21st, that the enemy had evacuated Strasburg
and he was following them.
, having been instructed by Johnston
to hold in the valley the enemy already there, followed after Ashby
at dawn of the 22d, Fulkerson
's brigade from Woodstock
's and Burks
' from Mt. Jackson
, all reaching Strasburg
and encamping there that night.
with 200 to 300 cavalry and three cannon, attacked and drove in the Federal
pickets, about a mile from Winchester
, at 5 p. m. of the 22d.
ordered his command under arms and sent a brigade of infantry, two batteries and some artillery to meet this attack.
skirmished for a time and then withdrew, three miles, to Kernstown
, for the night, reporting to Jackson
that he had learned that all but four regiments of the Federal
army had left for the north and that these would follow the next morning.
's information was only partly correct.
The last of Williams
' division of Banks
' command had marched for Manassas
the morning of the 22d, but Shields
' division, some 7,000 men, had not yet left Winchester
, whose arm had been broken in the skirmish of the 22d, reported to Banks
that he thought the attack was only by a small cavalry force, but during the night, as a precautionary provision, he posted Kimball