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[84] at Winchester, and on the 14th he captured the place with about four thousand prisoners, and all the artillery, Milroy escaping with a fragment of his force to Harper's Ferry.

What must have been Hooker's surprise at receiving on that date, a telegram from the President, ‘Do you consider it possible that fifteen thousand of Ewell's men can now be at Winchester?’ Later in the day Mr. Lincoln sent another message from Washington: ‘So far as we can make out here, the enemy have Milroy surrounded at Winchester, and Tyler at Martinsburg: If they could hold out a few days, could you help them? If the head of Lee's army is at Martinsburg, and the tail of it on the Plank Road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere, could you not break him?’ But it was now too late, the opportunity had gone. Had there been wise counsel at Washington, the forces at Winchester and the garrison at Harper's Ferry would have been withdrawn to the defenses of Washington, and the safety of that place assured, Hooker should have been allowed to strike Hill and advance on Richmond.

As the duty of protecting the Confederate capital was entrusted to General Lee, much solicitude was excited about this time by the reports of a Federal expedition threatening Richmond, by way of the Peninsula, which caused him to write to Mr. Davis, on the 15th, ‘I hesitate to draw the whole of A. P. Hill's corps to me; two of Pickett's brigades are at Hanover Junction and Richmond, so that I am quite weak.’ On the 19th, writing from Milwood, he says the difficulty of procuring supplies retards, and renders more uncertain our future movements. To draw Hooker still further away from his base, however, and to embarrass him as to the Confederate movements, Longstreet was pushed forward from Culpeper, along the east base of the Blue Ridge, through Fauquier and Loudoun counties, with instructions to occupy Ashby's and Snickers' Gaps, which he continued to do to the 20th, when he withdrew and camped on the left bank of the Shenandoah. When Longstreet began his move from Culpeper, Stuart with his cavalry was directed to cover his right flank, and guard the passes through the Bull Run Mountains, a range which runs parallel to and east of the Blue Ridge.

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