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[131] features were mainly the Blue Ridge mountains, dividing the great Valley from Piedmont, Virginia; the Shenandoah river, a noble stream at all times, and then everywhere unfordable because of its swollen state; and the Great Valley Turnpike, a paved road extending parallel to the mountain and river, from the Potomac to Staunton. From a point east of Strasburg to another point east of Harrisonburg extends the Masanuttin mountain, a ridge of fifty miles length, parallel to the Blue Ridge, and dividing the Great Valley into two valleys. Down the eastern of these, usually called the Page county valley, the main river passes, down the other passes the great road. Up this road, west of the Masanuttin mountain was Jackson now retreating, in his deliberate, stubborn fashion, while Fremont's 18,000 pursued him. Up another road parallel, but on the eastern side both of that mountain and of the main river, marched Shields, with his 8,000 picked troops. Neither had any pontoon train, for Banks had burned his in his impotent flight in May. Why did not Shields, upon coming over from the Piedmont to Front Royal, for the purpose of intercepting Jackson in the lower valley, at once cross the Shenandoah and place himself in effectual concert with his partner, Fremont? He had possession of a bridge at Front Royal. They were endeavoring to practice a little lesson in the art of war, which they fancied they had learned from the great teacher, Jackson, which they desired to improve, because it was learned, as they sorely felt, at the cost of grevious stripes, and indignities worse than those of the dunceblock. But their teacher would show them again, that they were not yet instructed enough to descend from that ‘bad eminence.’ Let me explain this first lesson.

The Blue-Ridge, parallel to the great Valley road, is penetrated only at certain ‘gaps,’ by roads practicable for armies. On the east of it lay the teeming Piedmont land, untouched by ravage as yet, and looking towards the capital and the main army of the Confederacy. This mountain, if Jackson chose to resort to it, was both his fastness and his ‘base of operations’; for the openings of its gaps offered him natural strongholds, unassailable by an enemy, with free communication at his rear for drawing supplies or for retreating. When Banks first pursued him up the Valley, he had turned aside at Harrisonburg to the eastward, and seated himself behind the river at Conrad's Store in the mouth of Swift Run Gap. And then Banks began to get his first glimpse of his lesson in strategy. He found that his coveted way (up the great Valley road) was now parallel to

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T. J. Jackson (8)
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