Zzzearly to the rescue.
on that day ordered Lieutenant-General Early
, commanding the Second Corps, to be ready to move at 3 A. M. on the morrow with that corps and with Nelson
's and Braxton
's Artillery Battalions, and General A. L. Long
as chief of artillery.
Their orders were to move to the Valley
, strike Hunter
, destroy him if possible, and threaten Washington
Not aware that Hunter
had advanced as far as Lexington
, for the telegraph wires had been cut, his instructions to Early
were to move by way of Louisa Court House and Charlottesville
, and through Brown
's or Swift Run pass in the Blue Ridge
, as he might deem most advisable, strike Hunter
's force in the rear and, if possible, destroy it. Then to move down
across the Potomac
or at or near Harper's Ferry
, as he might deem most desirable, and threaten Washington city
. General Breckinridge
was to co-operate.
The battle-scarred and battle-worn veterans destined for this undertaking contained the men who, under Stonewall Jackson
, had won the name of the Foot Cavalry of the Valley
During the month of May, Major-General Edward Johnson
and a large part of his division had been captured at Spotsylvania
; Major-General Early
had succeeded Lieutenant-General Ewell
, who had become an invalid, and Major-General Rodes
was the only officer above the rank of brigadier who remained in his place.
Of the twelve brigadiers but one of them was still at the head of his brigade, for Gordon
had succeeded Early
and Edward Johnson
, J. M. Jones
and Junius Daniel
had been killed; Pegram
, James A. Walker
and R. D. Johnston
had been wounded, and George H. Steward
had been captured.
The staff had been cut to pieces, many field officers had fallen, and the rank and file of the corps was now reduced to 8,000 muskets.
An hour ahead of time—at 2 o'clock on the 15th of June—General Early
moved from Cold Harbor, Hunter
being then within forty miles and he within 140 miles from Lynchburg
, which was Hunter
's objective point.
On the 16th Early was at the Rivanna
, near Charlottesville
, having marched over eighty miles in four days, and there he received a telegram from General Breckinridge
, at Lynchburg
, that Hunter
was at Liberty
, in Bedford county
, about twenty-five miles from that place.
On the morning of the 17th Early seized a train at Charlottesville
, pushed Ramseur
's Division and a part of Gordon
's on board, Rodes
and the rest of the corps and the artillery moving along the railroad to meet the train, which was to return after it had delivered the foremost troops in Lynchburg