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[23] and the national forces between that place and Berryville,—that either could bring on an engagement at any moment; but Early was not anxious for battle at all, although reinforced;1 while an advance of Sheridan, in the event of reverse, exposed the national capital. The rebels, therefore, remained as close to the Potomac as they dared, and Sheridan waited until circumstances should give him an opportunity to pounce upon the enemy.

Meanwhile, the young commander every day reported to his superior on the James, and every day the general-in-chief replied with words of caution or encouragement. At this time every important movement made by Sheridan was either ordered or approved by Grant. ‘I have taken up a position,’ said Sheridan, ‘near Berryville, which will enable me to get in their rear, if they should get strong enough to push north.’ Again, on the 20th of August, he telegraphed: ‘Troops passing from Culpeper into the Valley. I have taken the defensive till their strength is more fully developed. . . If they cross the Potomac, they will expose their rear, and I will pitch into them.’ To this Grant replied from Petersburg: ‘Warren's corps is now entrenched across the Weldon road; I shall endeavor to stay there, and employ the enemy so actively that he cannot detach further.’ On the 20th, Sheridan reported: ‘I can now calculate on bringing into action about twenty-two thousand or twenty-three thousand infantry, and about eight thousand cavalry.’2

1 This is Early's own statement, although, according to McCabe and Pollard, he had been ordered to cross the Potomac.

2 See Appendix for remarks on the subject of Sheridan's numbers in this campaign.

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