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[22] had directed Sheridan: ‘Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions, and negroes, to prevent further planting;’ and the orders were carried out to the letter. On the 20th of August, Sheridan reported: ‘I have destroyed everything that was eatable south of Winchester, and they will have to haul supplies from well up to Staunton.’ His orders were to seize all mules, horses, and cattle that might be useful, and destroy all wheat and hay. ‘No houses will be burned, and officers in charge of this delicate but necessary duty must inform the people that the object is to make the Valley untenable for the raiding parties of the rebel army.’ The destruction was not wanton, nor was the suffering inflicted by way of revenge; Grant was simply determined to prevent another invasion of the loyal states, and to render it impossible for another rebel army to subsist in the Valley. The inhabitants suffered, whether their resources were annihilated by rebel or national soldiers.

And now occurred a series of manoeuvres demanding caution and skill in both commanders. Early's object was to remain as far down the Valley as possible, in order to maintain a threatening attitude towards Maryland and Pennsylvania, and prevent the use of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, as well as to detain as many troops as possible from Grant. Sheridan, on the other hand, was watching his opportunity, and whenever Lee recalled any force from the Valley, he meant to fall upon Early and destroy him. The two armies lay in such a position—the enemy on the west bank of the Opequan, covering Winchester,

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