enemy in your immediate front weaker than you are.’
Meanwhile, there were rumors that a part of Early
's force had been sent west of the Alleghanies
, and Grant
meant to lose no opportunity.
On the 29th, he ordered Sheridan
: ‘If it is ascertained certainly that Breckenridge
has been detached to go into Western Virginia
, attack the remaining forces vigorously with every man you have; and if successful in routing them, follow up your success with the Sixth and Nineteenth corps, and send Crook
to meet Breckenridge
replied on the same day: ‘There is not one word of truth in the report of Breckenridge
being in West Virginia
;’ and then, with his usual spirit, he added: ‘I believe no troops have yet left the Valley
, but I believe they will, and that it will be their last campaign in the Shenandoah
They came to invade, and have failed.
They must leave, or cross the Potomac
The next day he said: ‘If Early
has detached troops for Richmond
, I will attack him vigorously.’
It was with words like these that the chief and the subaltern inspired each other: they were evidently made of similar stuff.
At last, on the 3rd of September, Anderson
started for Richmond
; but towards night he blundered upon Sheridan
's lines, and was vigorously attacked, and driven back towards the Opequan
For a while he was in imminent danger, and the next day Early
came up to his support.
The rebels, however, had no idea of attacking Sheridan
, and the whole command executed a rapid retreat to the west bank of the Opequan; but had Sheridan