On the 27th of February, the regular monthly court day of Augusta county
, there was a large meeting of the citizens of the city and county, which was earnestly addressed by Hon. John Randolph Tucker
, Hon. A. H. H. Stuart
and others, in reference to supplying the wants of Lee
The meeting was quite enthusiastic, and a large subscription of supplies and money was promptly made by those present.
On the 28th of February the enemy was reported as again marching up the Valley
with a large force, rumor saying that it was Hancock
with 20,000 men. Its advance reached Mt. Jackson
the night of the 27th and approached Harrisonburg
late on the 28th.
Great excitement prevailed in Staunton
, military stores were removed and arrangements made for breaking up camp.
Many citizens left for places of greater safety.
On the 1st of March, General Early
broke camp at Staunton
and the last train left for the east at 4:30 p. m., just after Early
and his staff left Waynesboro
, where the army had been ordered to concentrate.
The enemy came on rapidly, driving before it the small force of cavalry that opposed its progress, capturing the wagons and cattle of refugees that were trying to escape along the Valley turnpike
, and encamped south of Middle river, some four miles from Staunton
, some of its scouts coming into the city during the night.
It was afterward reported that quite a number of ‘Jessie scouts,’ dressed as Confederate soldiers, had not only been in Staunton
during the day, but that they had actually assisted in loading the railway trains.
A thaw had taken place so that the roads were badly broken up and the mud very deep, except on the macadamized Valley turnpike. The mud was particularly deep between Staunton
, making it very difficult to move trains and artillery.
strongly picketed the road at Fishersville and spent the night in his old camp.
The movement of the enemy was so sudden and unexpected that it was impossible to collect the widely scattered cavalry, and Rosser
had but about a score of men to watch the enemy's movements.
Early's wagon train encamped beyond South
river at Waynesboro
, in the entrance to Rockfish gap.
On the 2d of March, Wharton
's division reached Waynesboro
at an early hour, and was put in line of battle, his whole force being only about 800 men, with his left on