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Hunter, it is true, had moved on Lexington instead of towards Charlottesville, and Sheridan, thus left unsupported, was obliged to return to Grant; while afterwards, when repelled from Lynchburg, Hunter retreated entirely away from the Valley, leaving the route to Washington absolutely open to the enemy. Nevertheless, the invasion of Early had failed, for the very reason which Grant had foreseen. Lee had been so crippled by his losses in the Wilderness that he could not detach a force large enough to endanger Washington without risking his position at Richmond; and when Early reached the capital he found troops assembled there sufficient to repel him. But had Grant moved his army in May by way of the James instead of from Culpeper, the rebels would doubtless at that time have threatened Washington far more seriously than in July. The very danger which was now averted was a justification of the strategy which had prevented its occurrence at a time when relief might have been more difficult to secure.

At this juncture, however, Lee could have had but little hope of capturing Washington, though he doubtless believed that Grant might be compelled to weaken himself in front of Richmond, and perhaps to raise the siege.1 Indeed, had the national general allowed himself to be influenced by the excited apprehensions of civilians and even soldiers at the rear, he would have abandoned all the advantages acquired by months

1 McCabe's ‘Life and Campaigns of General Lee;’ a work containing more trustworthy information from rebel sources than any other I have seen.

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