When Gen. Jackson
, at the head of his small but dauntless army, marched from Winchester
on the first day of the present year, it might have been regarded a brilliant achievement, and one worthy of the thanks of the country, if by the first day of February he could expel from the limits of his military district the Northern
invaders, who had taken possession of a large portion of it, and who had made their arrangements for wintering there.
At that time two-thirds of the large and wealthy county of Hampshire
, with the rich values of the South Branch
and Patterson's Creek
, were in their possession.
They had a force of 8,000 infantry at Romney
, with a good proportion of cavalry, and twenty cannon — all protected by strong and formidable artificial defences, 2,000 troops at Springfield
, nine miles distant, and 1,000 at Green Spring Valley
, sixteen miles from Romney
So, in like manner, the entire county of Morgan
was in the possession or under the control of the enemy, where they had from 1,500 to 2,000 infantry, sixty cavalry and two pieces of artillery, besides additional forces and cannon at Hancock
, on the Maryland
side of the river.
Here was a formidable force of near 14,000 men in these two counties, besides large reinforcements at hand from Cumberland
, and Williamsport
's first march was to Morgan
, from which county he promptly expelled the invaders, as we have heretofore detailed in our paper.
After effectually accomplishing this work, he returned to Unger
's — a point equidistant from Winchester
, and about thirty miles from Romney
Whilst reposing there a day or two to rest his fatigued soldiers, and to prepare for insure operations, the alarm already produced by his vigorous movements and the terror of his name caused the enemy in great haste to evacuate Romney
and retire into Maryland
; and thus in ten days, without the necessity of fighting a battle, and after a few shots from pickets and ambuscades of the enemy, this formidable hostile force was driven from these two counties, liberating every foot of soil from the Alleghany
to the Blue Ridge
from the presence of the enemy.
Winter campaigns in that climate are not accomplished without much suffering, and for several days during the march to Morgan
and back the weather was unusually wintry and rigorous.
Transportation, from show and ice, was difficult, and the privations and exposure of the troops appalling; and yet not a murmur escaped their lips — cheerfulness animated every heart.
The volunteers from the almost tropical Cotton States vied with those of more Northern climates in a patient endurance of the rigors of the winter; but, notwithstanding this cheerful and patient endurance, many a gallant spirit sunk under disease, and the sick list was frightfully increased.
The fruits of this expedition are already great.
Two important counties have been rescued from the demoralizing influence of the Yankee
armies — relieved from their plundering and destructive acts of barbarity and villainy, and confidence restored in the power and ability of our Government to give them protection.
Large quantities of military stores have been captured at Batt
, Hancock Depot, and Romney
One of the prisoners, an Orderly Sergeant
, taken at Romney
, estimating probably too largely the value of the stores left at that place, supposes them to be worth half a million of dollars.
The whole line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Harper's Ferry
to near Cumberland
, a distance of near one hundred miles, is in our power, and that link of connection, so important to the enemy, will be effectually destroyed.
So, in like manner, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
is at our mercy, and Washington City
cut off from all supplies from the West
But much more remains to be done, and much more will be done.
We shall not anticipate the future movements of that army, nor indicate its prospective operations.
It is composed of brave and patriotic spirits under the control of a daring and skillful leader, and we hope before many days to chronicle achievements as important in their results as those already accomplished.