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[18] of fighting, and moved the army of the Potomac back to the fortifications of the capital. But he had his hand at the throat of the rebellion, and meant not to let go his grasp. Having perceived the vital military point, he had the courage to remain there, despite advice, and entreaties, and almost commands. Thus Lee's plan of obliging him to give up Richmond for the sake of Washington entirely failed. It was a skilful move on the military chess-board, and with some antagonists might have succeeded, but Grant had no more idea of abandoning the goal at which he was aiming because of such a distraction as Early's campaign, than he had of re-crossing the Rapidan after the battle of the Wilderness.

It had now, however, become essential to defeat the movement of Early. Disaster in the Valley would lay open to the rebels the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania for long distances before another army could be interposed to check them; while the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, as well as the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, alike indispensable to the national armies, were alike obstructed by the enemy. The moral effect of all this on the North at this political crisis was most damaging. Grant was therefore extremely anxious that whenever a blow was struck by Sheridan it should be decisive. But to secure this, caution was necessary as well as energy; and although full of confidence in his young lieutenant, the general-in-chief remembered that Sheridan had never yet handled a large command without an immediate superior: he accordingly directed him closely and constantly. Sheridan in his turn continually asked for orders and advice.

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