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[326]

Chapter 30: Averill's raid and the winter campaign.

A few days after our return from Mine Run, General Ewell came back to the command of the corps, and I returned to my division, all remaining quiet on the Rapidan.

About the middle of December a force of cavalry and infantry moved from New Creek on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad up the south branch of the Potomac, under General Averill of the Federal Army, apparently threatening Staunton in the Valley, while at the same time another force under Colonel Wells moved up the Valley from Martinsburg to Strasburg. General Imboden commanding in the Valley, having only a small brigade of cavalry and a battery of artillery, applied to General Lee for reinforcements, and two brigades of Hill's corps, Thomas' and H. H. Walker's, were sent to Staunton over the railroad, Fitz. Lee's brigade of cavalry being ordered to move to the Valley also. General Lee then ordered me to proceed to the Valley and take command of all the troops there.

I started at once, leaving Orange Court-House by rail and, reaching Staunton, by reason of some delay on the railroad, after the middle of the night. I found Thomas' brigade in Staunton, it having arrived the evening before, ahead of me, and Walker's had moved out to Buffalo Gap, ten miles beyond Staunton on the road to McDowell, at or near which place the enemy under Averill was reported to be.

Very early next morning General Imboden came into town, and I rode with him to his camp across the mountain from Buffalo Gap near the Calf Pasture River. He reported that the enemy's force was about five thousand strong and still confronted him behind Bull Pasture River, on the other side of the intervening mountains, where it was watched by a detachment of his cavalry, and

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Fitzhugh Lee (3)
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