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[271] As history, too, it is far better than General Doubleday's Gettysburg, though it is far behind the best numbers of the series. Mr. Rope's Army under Pope, and General Palfrey's Antietam, for instance. It is mainly a narrative of the Federal operations in the Valley in 1864, only describing and discussing the Confederate side, so far as is necessary to the comprehension of the achievements of the Union armies. While, too, Mr. Pond's language is temperate, and he aims at fairness, his bias is very evident, and often converts his pages into a defence of, or panegyric upon the Federal commanders. He is not careful to state the strength of the forces engaged in many of the battles (though he gives pretty full extracts from the returns in the appendix), and sometimes, perhaps unwittingly, gives a wrong impression. Nor has he a word of reprobation for any of the outrages and cruelties which marked the path of the Federal armies along the Shenandoah, though he is prompt to condemn the burning of Chambersburg, which was the outgrowth of some of these cruelties.

At the opening of the campaign of 1864, General Sigel commanded the Federal department of West Virginia. He had over 27,000 men present for duty under his command. These were scattered over his department, the two principal bodies being one of about 10,000 under Crook, in Southwest Virginia, and another of 8,500 under Sigel, in person, near Martinsburg. General Breckinridge commanded all the Confederate forces in this region. His forces amounted probably to over 8,000 men, scattered at different points. The Federal forces were ordered forward simultaneously with the advance of Grant on the Rapidan. Crook was to break the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and destroy the lead mines and salt works in Southwest Virginia, while Sigel was to move up the Shenandoah Valley, and threaten Staunton and Charlottesville. Crook sent his cavalry under Averell against Wytheville and Saltville, while he led his infantry towards Dublin and New River bridge. Averell was defeated and driven back from Wytheville by Jno. Morgan; but Crook's larger force met with more success. Sigel having begun his movement up the Valley, General Lee had ordered Breckinridge with the mass of his forces, to go to meet him. This left an entirely inadequate force to oppose Crook, who defeated it, under W. E. Jones and Jenkins, at Cloyd's Mountain, and subsequently pushed on to Dublin and New River bridge. After burning the bridge and doing some slight damage to the railroad, Crook promptly returned to Meadow Bluff, where he re-united with Averell.


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Crook (12)
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