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[21] troops had retired. Sheridan fell back as far as Berryville, and the enemy's forces were united at Winchester, only five miles off.

At this time, if ever, the rebels should have pressed Sheridan across the Potomac, or crossing the river themselves, have either compelled him to follow, or forced Grant to despatch still further reinforcements from the James. The strength of Early and Anderson combined was at least equal to that of Sheridan, and if they were to accomplish anything at all by the campaign, now was their opportunity. Once more, however, Lee's plans entirely failed. There was some question of rank between the commanders, but this was waived by Anderson, and all the responsibility fell upon Early, who, though a stubborn fighter, and not without fine conceptions, lacked entirely the genius to execute either his own ideas, or those of others, in an emergency. As a corps commander immediately under the eye of a superior, he sometimes displayed ability, but an independent command was beyond his powers.1

But if he did no more, Early was to secure the harvests of the Valley. This was one great object of the campaign, and after Early's return from Maryland, his supplies were obtained principally from the lower Valley and the counties west of it. The wheat for nearly all his bread was thrashed and ground by details from his command, while the horses and mules were sustained almost entirely by grazing. But all this was now to end. Grant

1 * This was McCabe's opinion, as well as the general one at the South; but Early himself entertained a very different one.—See his Memoir, passim.

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