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[84]

In the face of these odds Early continued his advance into Maryland. At Frederick he found General Wallace, with about ten thousand men, in position to oppose the passage of the Monocacy. Immediate preparations were made to dislodge Wallace and effect a crossing of that stream. Rodes was thrown forward on the Baltimore and Ramseur on the Washington City road, while Gordon and Breckinridge, with a portion of Ransom's cavalry inclining to the right, moved to the fords a mile or two below the railroad bridge. At the same time the heights contiguous to the river were crowned by Long's artillery (consisting of the guns of Nelson, Braxton, King and McLaughlin), to cover the movement of the other troops.

When the troops had gained their position, the crossing at the lower fords was promptly accomplished, and Breckinridge and Gordon, quickly forming their line of battle, advanced rapidly up the stream towards the Federal position, and, after a short but spirited conflict, defeated Wallace, whose army soon fell into a panic and fled in wild confusion, spreading dismay for miles in every direction by the terrible accounts they gave of the tremendous force Early was leading through the country. The route being now open, Early proceeded by rapid marches to within cannon-shot of the walls of Washington. Since his entrance into Maryland his force had been exaggerated by the inhabitants and the soldiery he had met, until in their terrified imagination it was magnified to thirty or forty thousand men.

On his arrival before the Federal Capital, the exaggerated rumor of his strength having preceded him, its occupants were variously affected. The Federal authorities and all of their adherents were in a state of consternation, while the Southern sympathizers were full of exultation—for at the time it was thought by many he would take the city. Had he had twenty or thirty thousand men he would have done so, with a prospect of holding it, and giving a new turn to subsequent military operations. But Early was too prudent and sagacious to attempt an enterprise with a force of eight thousand men which, if successful, could only be of temporary benefit. He was therefore content to remain in observation long enough to give his movement full time to produce its greatest effect, and then withdrew in the face of a large army and recrossed the Potomac without molestation.

This campaign is remarkable for having accomplished more in proportion to the force employed, and for having given less public satisfaction, than any other campaign of the war. The want of appreciation of it is entirely due to the erroneous opinion that the


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