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[91] To this Sheridan replied from Front Royal: ‘The cavalry is all ordered back to you; make your position strong. If Longstreet's despatch is true, he is under the impression that we have largely detached. . . Close in on General Powell, who will be at this point. If the enemy should make an advance, I know you will defeat him. Look well to your ground, and be well prepared.’ He then went on to Washington. Grant meanwhile had been notified of the intercepted despatch, and telegraphed at once to Halleck: ‘Sheridan should follow and break up Longstreet's force, if he can, and either employ all the force the enemy now have in the Valley, or send his surplus forces here.’

Early was indeed preparing for a supreme effort to crush Sheridan. It is impossible not to admire the determination and the spirit of the commander who, after the succession of disasters which had broken his army, could so soon attempt an offensive movement against a victorious enemy. But whatever his faults, Early was morally as well as physically brave. He had now, however, been heavily reinforced; his army was as large as before the battle of Winchester, while Sheridan's command had not been increased. Early knew besides that great dissatisfaction existed both in the army and out of it, because of his reverses; the Governor of Virginia had peremptorily urged that he should be relieved, and although Lee had generously supported his subordinate, he had nevertheless written in the strongest terms to stimulate the unfortunate commander. ‘Every one should exert all his energies and strength to ’

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