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Chapter 13: invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania-operations before Petersburg and in the Shenandoah Valley.

It has been observed that the authorities at Washington feared a visit from Lee's troops when the Army of the Potomac should be placed on the south side of the James River.1 At about the time we are considering — the midsummer of 1864--these fears were realized. Finding the pressure of his antagonist very severe, and the dangers to his army at and around Richmond hourly increasing, Lee sought to avert impending calamity by diverting so much of the Union army to some distant point, as to practically relieve Petersburg and Richmond of siege. That contemplated point of diversion was the National Capital, the most feasible way to which, by Confederate troops, seemed to be by the Shenandoah Valley and across the Potomac into Maryland, taking it in reverse. Lee eagerly watched an opportunity for the movement. It was offered when Hunter fled from before Lynchburg into Western Virginia, with an exhausted and broken army,2 and left the Shenandoah Valley, and its door opening into Maryland at Harper's Ferry, guarded only by a moderate force under General Sigel, posted at Martinsburg.

General Early, in command of troops in the upper part of the Valley, was directed by Lee to gather to his own all the troops in that region, and move rapidly to and across the Potomac into Maryland, with the threefold object, it appears, of drawing National troops from before Petersburg, procuring supplies, and attempting the capture of Washington City. Early quickly obeyed. With from 15,000 to 20,000 troops of all arms,3 he swept rapidly down the Valley toward Williamsport. Sigel, too weak to resist the avalanche, fled

July 3, 1864.
into Maryland, with a heavy loss of stores, and General Weber, in command at Harper's Ferry, retired to Maryland Heights. Grant, meanwhile, had directed Hunter, who was then on the Kanawha, to hasten to Harper's Ferry with all possible dispatch; but insuperable obstacles kept him back until it was too late to be of essential service, and Early found no troops at hand to oppose his invasion, except a few in the Middle Department, commanded by General Lewis Wallace, whose Headquarters were at Baltimore.

Early crossed the river at Williamsport, accompanied by Bradley T. Johnson4 as commander of a brigade, and a notorious guerrilla leader named [342] Harry Gilmor,5 both bitter Maryland rebels, who now, as the chosen guides and assistants of the chief of the invaders, brought war with all its horrors to the doors of their neighbors and friends. Early pushed on to Hagerstown,

July 6, 1864.
where he levied a contribution on the inhabitants of $20,000, and then swept over the country toward the Pennsylvania line, plundering friend and foe alike of horses, cattle, provisions and money.6

Weber's Headquarters, Harper's Ferry.7

Vague rumors had reached General Wallace, at Baltimore, concerning the perils of Sigel. Then came positive information of the passage of the Potomac by the Confederates, and their raiding within the borders of General Couch's Department; and finally, on the 5th of July, he was informed that their movements indicated an intention to march upon Baltimore or Washington in heavy column. Finding his Department thus threatened,

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