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[85] City of Washington should have been taken; but this may be passed over as one of the absurdities of public criticism on the conduct of the war.

By glancing at the operations of Early, from the 13th of June to the last of July, it will be seen that in less than two months he had marched over four hundred miles, and with a force not exceeding twelve thousand men, he had not only defeated but entirely dispersed two Federal armies of an aggregate strength of more than double his own; had invaded Maryland, and by his bold and rapid movement upon Washington, had created an important diversion in favor of General Lee in the defence of Richmond, and had re-entered Virginia with a loss of less than three thousand men. After remaining a short time in the neighborhood of Leesburg, he returned to the Valley by way of Snicker's Gap, and about the 17th of July occupied the neighborhood of Berryville.

Early had no sooner established himself at Berryville than a considerable force of the enemy appeared on the Shenandoah, near Castleman's Ferry, and partially effected a crossing, but were promptly driven back with heavy loss, after which they retired to the neighbor of Harper's Ferry.

About the same time a large force under General Averill was reported to be advancing from Martinsburg to Winchester. Being unwilling to receive an attack in an unfavorable position, Early sent Ramseur, with a division and two batteries of artillery, to Winchester, to retard Averill, while he withdrew with the main body of the army and supply trains by way of White Post and Newtown to Strasburg.

Ramseur, having encountered the enemy a few miles east of Winchester, was defeated, with a loss of four pieces of artillery, and forced to retire to Newtown, where he rejoined Early.

Averill, being arrested in his pursuit of Ramseur near Newtown, fell back to Kernstown, where he was soon joined by General Crook, with the forces from Harper's Ferry.

From Newtown, Early continued his march to Strasburg without interruption. On the 23d he was informed of the junction of Crook and Averill, and of their occupation of Kernstown; thereupon it was determined to attack them without delay. The security of the trains having been properly provided for, the army was put in motion early on the morning of the 24th towards the enemy.

About noon a position was gained from which it was observed that the enemy was in possession of the identical ground which had been occupied by Shields when encountered by Stonewall Jackson in


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