The military problem for Jackson
, as it now presented itself, was to get his trains and prisoners safely to Staunton
and find an opportunity to defeat his oncoming foes separately, before they could form a junction in the vicinity of Harrisonburg
The grand bulwark of the Massanuttons had divided them, and it was for him now to conquer and dispose of them.
Knowing the road difficulties in the way of Shields
felt secure in falling back leisurely up the great macadam road leading to Staunton
On the 2d he reached Mt. Jackson
's cavalry force, which had not yet had a taste of Ashby
's tactics, pressed with unusual vigor on Jackson
's rear guard, which broke and was thrown into some confusion; but Ashby
promptly rallied his men behind the bushes and fences, and with the help of an infantry regiment that filed to the roadside, sent the Federals
back in confusion.
On the 3d, Jackson
retired to New Market
destroying the bridge across the North Fork
of the Shenandoah
near Mt. Jackson
as he fell back, checking Fremont
there for a day. From his camp near New Market
sent Captain Hotchkiss
in the night to the peak at the southwestern end of the Massanuttons, accompanied by signal men, to watch the movements of the two Federal armies from that commanding height and report their progress to Jackson
as he marched up the valley.
was reached before midday of the 5th, and a cavalry force was promptly sent to destroy the bridge across the South Fork
's store, by which Shields
had hoped to cross and join Fremont
, thus anticipating the arrival of Federal cavalry which Shields
had hastened forward to seize that bridge and which was already near at hand when Jackson
's men fired it. There was now but one bridge left across the swollen South Fork
, that over its North river fork at Port Republic
Sending his sick and wounded on to Staunton
tarried at Harrisonburg
with his rear guard till about midday of the 6th, being kept constantly informed by Captain Hotchkiss
from the peak signal station.
He then left the Valley turnpike
and retired toward Port Republic
, that he might place himself on the shortest line of communication with General Lee
, through Brown
's gap, which he had crossed when starting for McDowell
a little more than a month before.
Upon the approach