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[226] in check. Jackson gladly accepted Lee's suggestions, and, at his headquarters at Conrad's store, in the Elk Run valley, worked out his plan of operations.

When Jackson retired from Harrisonburg, on the 19th, to the Blue ridge, and left the road to Staunton, 25 miles by the Valley turnpike, uncovered, Edward Johnson's command, consisting of six regiments of infantry, three batteries and a small force of cavalry, in all about 3,000 fighting men, fell back to West View, 7 miles west of Staunton, to be prepared for any movement Banks might make in that direction; the two brigades of Milroy and Schenck, of Fremont's command, that had been opposing Johnson, following him up and establishing a Federal advance at the eastern foot of the Shenandoah mountain, about 20 miles west of Staunton.

There was no enemy in front of Ewell to prevent his joining Jackson, as McDowell's army, now that all threatened danger of an attack on Washington was apparently removed, had been diverted toward Fredericksburg. It was different with Edward Johnson's force. That could not be removed without endangering Staunton, a base of supplies for Lee's as well as Jackson's army; that town was also on the important line of railway leading to Richmond. This condition of things compelled Jackson to strike his first blow at Fremont's advance under Milroy, and thus release Johnson's command for co-operating with his. Only common country roads led from Jackson's camp, along the western foot of the Blue ridge, to Staunton, and these were rendered almost impassable by the well-nigh continuous wet weather and the freezings and thawings that characterized that season. To solve this difficulty, and at the same time to effectually cover his strategic movement, Jackson, after having had the roads examined and ascertained that he could secure railway transportation, decided to march his own army along the foot of the Blue ridge, some 18 miles, to the vicinity of Port Republic, the way for most of the distance leading through flat woods, and there take the turnpike across the Blue ridge to Meechum's River station of the Virginia Central railroad, whence, by the aid of the railway, he could speedily transfer his command to Staunton and join Johnson, just beyond, in a rapid movement that would

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