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Chapter 50: operations in 1865.

On the 2nd of January, 1865, I had a consultation with General Lee at Richmond, about the difficulties of my position in the Valley, and he told me that he had left me there with the small command which still remained in order to produce the impression that the force was much larger than it really was, and he instructed me to do the best I could. Before I returned from Richmond, Rosser started with between 300 and 400 picked cavalry, for the post of Beverly in West Virginia, and, on the 11th, surprised and captured the place, securing over 500 prisoners and some stores. This expedition was made over a very mountainous country, amid the snows of an unusually severe winter. Rosser's loss was very light, but Lieutenant Colonel Cook, of the 8th Virginia Cavalry, a most gallant and efficient officer, lost his leg in the attack, and had to be left behind.

The great drought during the summer of 1864 had made the corn crop in the Valley a very short one, and, as Sheridan had destroyed a considerable quantity of small grain and hay, I found it impossible to sustain the horses of my cavalry and artillery where they were, and forage could not be obtained from elsewhere. I was therefore compelled to send Fitz. Lee's two brigades to General Lee, and Lomax's cavalry was brought from across the Blue Ridge, where the country was exhausted of forage, and sent west into the counties of Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Alleghany and Greenbrier, where hay could be obtained. Rosser's brigade had to be temporarily disbanded, and the men allowed to go to their homes with their horses, to sustain them, with orders to report when called on,--one or two companies, whose homes were down the Valley, being required to picket and scout in front of New Market.

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