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[390] and Swift Run Gap, eastward of Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County. There he was joined
April 30, 1862.
by the division of General R. S. Ewell, from Gordonsville, and also two brigades under Edward S. Johnson, who had an independent command in Southwestern Virginia. Jackson's entire force was now about fifteen thousand men, while General Banks was lying at Harrisonburg, not far away, his force reduced to about five thousand men by the withdrawal of Shields's division.

Jackson was watching Banks closely, with orders to hold him, while General Lee, with a strong column, should push beyond the Rappahannock to cut off the communication between Winchester and Alexandria,1 when he was startled by the information that one of Fremont's brigades, under General Milroy, was approaching from the direction of Monterey, either to join Banks or to fall upon Staunton. He perceived that such a junction, or the occupation of Staunton, might give to the, Nationals the possession of the, Shenandoah Valley, and he took immediate measures to prevent the catastrophe. Leaving Ewell to watch Banks, he moved rapidly upon Staunton, and from that point sent Johnson, with five brigades, to attack Milroy. The latter, greatly outnumbered, fell back to the Bull Pasture Mountains and took post at McDowell, thirty-six miles west of Staunton, whither Schenck hastened with a part of his brigade to assist him. Jackson had also hurried. from Staunton to assist Johnson, and on the 8th he appeared with a large force on a ridge overlooking the National camp, and commenced planting a battery there. Milroy led a force to dislodge him,2 and for about five hours a battle, varying in intensity, was fought with great gallantry on both sides. Darkness put an end to the conflict. Schenck (who ranked Milroy) saw that the position of the Nationals was untenable, and by his direction the whole force retreated during the night to Franklin, having lost two hundred and fifty-six men, of whom one hundred and forty-five were only slightly wounded. Jackson reported a loss of four hundred and sixty-one, of whom three hundred and ninety were wounded. Among the latter was General Johnson. It was a fairly drawn fight, and yet Jackson, whose troops largely outnumbered the Nationals, and had every advantage of position, sent a trumpet-toned note to Ewell the next morning, saying, “Yesterday God gave us the victory at McDowell.”

Jackson pursued the Nationals to Franklin, where he heard from Ewell that Banks was evidently preparing to fly from Harrisonburg. So he hastened back to McDowell, recrossed the Shenandoah mountains to Lebanon Sulphur Springs, rested a little, and then pressed forward to fall upon Banks. The latter had fled to Strasburg pursued by Ewell, and Jackson pushed on,, joining the latter at New Market. Then he led the united forces into the Luray Valley, between the Massanutten Mountain and the Blue Ridge, and hastened toward Front Royal, to cut off Banks's retreat in that direction,

1 On the 5th of May Lee wrote to Ewell that he had ordered North Carolina troops to report to him at Gordonsville, and said: “I desire that those troops shall not be drawn to Swift Run Gap unless your necessities require it, the object being to form a strong column for the purpose of moving beyond the Rappahannock, to cut off the enemy's communication between Winchester and Alexandria.” --Autograph letter of Robert E. Lee. This was precisely such a movement as the Government anticipated, and which might have resulted in the capture of Washington, had not the corps of McDowell been left for its defense.

2 These consisted of the Twenty-fifth, Thirty-second, Seventy-fifth, and Eighty-second Ohio and Third. Virginia, with a 6-pounder of the Twelfth Ohio battery, under Lieutenant Bowen.

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