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[227] unexpectedly fall upon and demoralize Fremont's advance; arranging that Ewell's division should cross the Blue ridge and occupy the camps at Elk run even before he left their vicinity. To cover the changes decided on and deceive Banks, Jackson, on the 29th of April, sent Ashby, reinforced by infantry and artillery, to make a demonstration in front of Harrisonburg, sending Captain Hotchkiss, of the engineers, to the peak of the Massanutton mountains during the previous night, to observe the effect of the movement, as this outlook commanded a full view of Banks' camp, and regulate the movements of Ashby by signal. His whole army followed after Ashby, thus clearing his camps, which Ewell, crossing the Blue ridge the same day, occupied immediately after. Banks sent his trains to the rear and formed a line of battle on a very advantageous position, but made no attack. His object accomplished, late in the day Jackson countermarched to Conrad's store, but instead of going into his former camps, as his men expected, he turned up the river, just as a driving rain began, and marched several miles in the direction of Port Republic before going into camp. Jackson and his staff rode a dozen miles to ‘Lewiston,’ the home of Gen. S. H. Lewis, for the night. Ashby's cavalry covered and concealed the movement by advancing along the roads on the western side of the Shenandoah.

During the whole of May 1st and 2d all of Jackson's command was engaged in an arduous struggle in getting his trains and artillery through the rain, the mud and the quicksands between their camp of the night of the 30th and Port Republic, 12 miles distant. The 3d proved a genuine sunny May day and the troops marched rapidly over the hard, well-graded road across the Blue ridge, and Saturday night found their advance at Meechum's River station of the Virginia Central railroad. The next day, the troops that had reached the railway were conveyed by train to Staunton, while those in the rear marched to the nearer Afton station, to which the cars returned for them. The artillery and army trains took the country road to Staunton, recrossing the Blue ridge at Rockfish gap. The despair of the citizens of Staunton when apprised that Jackson had left the valley was unexpectedly turned into joy, when, just as the church bells were ringing for the Sunday morning service,

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