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Chapter 5: return to Strasburg (continued)—Banks's flight to WinchesterBattle of Winchester.

Turning now to Jackson's operations in the valley during the few days that intervened before he again confronted us at Front Royal, Strasburg, and Winchester, we shall find that this indefatigable captain, while resting for a few days in Elk Run Valley at the foot of Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, meditated an attack upon us at New Market or at Harrisonburg.1 Jackson's army at this time numbered six thousand. But this was not enough for his purposes; he wanted an addition of Ewell's division and five thousand men from the force covering Fredericksburg. On the twenty-eighth of April he applied to Lee for a command sufficiently large to enable him to march out and attack Banks. On the 29th Lee replied that the Federal force at Fredericksburg was too large to admit of any diminution of his own, but suggested that he could have General Edward Johnson's command, whose last return showed 3,500 men (and who was then near where the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike crosses the Shenandoah Mountain), and Ewell, who was in the vicinity of Stanardsville with eight thousand men; and expressed [176] the opinion that a “decisive and successful blow at Banks's column would be fraught with the happiest results.” 2 But Jackson hesitated. Milroy, who was at MacDowell (about thirty miles from Staunton), had pushed his advance over the Shenandoah Mountain to the neighborhood of the Harrisonburg and Warm Springs turnpike, thus opening an easy communication at the former place with Banks, with whom Jackson feared not only a union and the capture of Staunton, but the interposition of a hostile column between Johnson's force and his own. Such results were to be avoided; and in Jackson's mind the best way to avoid them was to strengthen his own division by uniting with Johnson's, and then with both to fall upon Milroy; after which he would, with the addition of Ewell's division, attack Banks. Conforming to this plan, Ewell was ordered to march his division to the position which Jackson occupied in Elk Run Valley, and thus hold Banks in check.3

All the Rebel forces then located in the valley, within this theatre of operations, are given by a Confederate historian as 17,000 under Jackson (of which 6,000 were at Swift Run Gap), 8,000 under Ewell (one day's march in his rear east of the Blue Ridge), and 3,000 with Edward Johnson at West View, seven miles west of Staunton, and over forty from Swift Run Gap. Banks, at Harrisonburg, with 19,000 Federals, made up of 8,000 men (including cavalry) in Banks's corps, and 11,000 in Shields's division; Milroy and Schenck, with 6,000 men (in front of General Edward Johnson), the advance of Fremont, who was preparing to join them with a force which would give him a movable column of 15,000 men,--completes the summing [177] up in numbers and location.4 Of these forces, Fremont's were widely separated; Banks's were concentrated. So for this reason and for those already given, Jackson determined to attack Milroy: and he would begin his movement so secretly that his enemies should be misled.

On the twenty-ninth of April, Ashby made demonstrations in force towards Harrisonburg. They were repeated on the 30th. Banks appeared to be quietly at rest. In the afternoon of the thirtieth of April Jackson left his camp: it was soon occupied by Ewell. Straight onward to Port Republic, on the eastern side of the Shenandoah River, Jackson directed his march. The day was rainy,--indeed for the past ten days heavy rains had fallen. Do their best, the troops made but five miles; on the next they made but five; the next, the second of May, the struggle with the mud continued. By nightfall Jackson had passed Lewiston to a bivouac between that point and Brown's Gap. On the 3d, by this gap and Whitehall, he pressed onward towards Mechum's River station on the Virginia Central Railroad, and at night encamped on the hills and meadows around the station, east of the Blue Ridge. On the 4th the artillery and trains took the road by Rockfish Gap to Staunton: the troops went by rail. On Sunday, the 5th, Jackson reached Staunton; the next day his troops arrived. So secretly had he moved that the people of the town were surprised. On the morning of the 7th the army moved against Milroy. Edwards's brigade in advance; .then Taliaferro's (3d); next Colonel Campbell's (2d); and in the rear the “Stonewall” brigade, General C. S. Winder (the 1st). The corps of Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, where Jackson had. been a superintendent, was attached to the expedition. The troops [178] moved on the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike. In eighteen miles Jackson's advance came up with Milroy's first outposts. The Federal pickets were captured or dispersed, and Jackson went on. On this day, for the first time, Milroy knew that Jackson was moving on MacDowell; he therefore ordered his troops to concentrate at that place. On the afternoon of the 7th Jackson's army was seen on the west side of the Shenandoah Mountain, moving down the Staunton and Parkersburg turnpike. Milroy made an effort to stop it with artillery, but without success. Jackson bivouacked at night on Shaw's Fork, twenty-nine miles from Staunton. On the 8th he resumed his march; climbed the Bull Pasture Mountain, and from its plateau looked down on the village of MacDowell and Milroy's camps in the valley of the Bull Pasture. Though

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