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[39] by only a slight undulation in the ground. A series of small parallel ridges follows the line of this valley in the direction of its length. The highest form a group called the Massanuten Mountains, extending from Harrisonburg to Strasburg. East of these mountains flows the South Fork, the principal branch of the Shenandoah, which runs past Staunton, descends into a narrow valley not far from Luray, where it drains the waters of the other branch, called North Fork, at Front Royal. This last stream waters the western slope of the same mountains, and, after flowing through a larger valley than that of South Fork as far as Strasburg, turns abruptly to the right. A little below Staunton it assumes already the proportions of a deep unfordable river, which is crossed by three bridges. The first, up stream, is that of Port Republic, over which passes the road leading from Harrisonburg to Richmond through Brown's Gap; the second is at Conrad's Store, on the road from Harrisonburg to Gordonsville through Swift Run Gap. The third is the White House bridge, constructed for a cross road, which, branching off from the main valley road at New Market, ascends the Massanuten Mountains, and runs in the direction of the important defile in the Blue Ridge called Thornton's Gap, by way of Luray. The principal road follows the larger valley of North Fork from Harrisonburg to Strasburg, through Woodstock, and thence down to Winchester direct. Below Strasburg and Front Royal the undulations in the ground disappear almost entirely, and the Shenandoah, hugging the base of the Blue Ridge, leaves to its left the magnificent plain watered by the small stream of the Opequan, in which lie the towns of Winchester, Martinsburg and Charlestown. There are but two small lines of railroad to be found in the valley. One connects Harper's Ferry with Winchester; the other is the one used by Johnston on the 21st of July, 1861, to take his troops to the battle-field of Bull Run. By following this unfinished track from east to west, starting from Manassas Junction, we find that it crosses the Blue Ridge at Manassas Gap, above Front Royal, descends into the valley, crosses the Shenandoah road, and, ascending the North Fork through Strasburg as far as Woodstock, terminates abruptly at Mount Jackson. It was to have been continued as far as Staunton.

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Joseph E. Johnston (1)
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July 21st, 1861 AD (1)
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