Valley campaign of General Early.
From the Times-dispatch, August 26, 1906.
Was one of most brilliant and stubbornly-fought of the entire War—Extended for four months.
Correspondent who was long with famous General describes his personality.
A few days after the disastrous Battle of Cedar Creek
, fought October 19, 1864, I was shown a letter by General Early
from General Lee
, answering Early
, in his letter, placed to Early
's account no blame for the defeat, but assured him in the kindest manner that he had accomplished in his campaign all and more than he expected.
He also assured him that he considered the movement a forlorn hope, made for the purpose of withdrawing from his front and overtaxed army as many men as possible.
In this respect it was eminently successful, as it compelled General Grant
to send to the Valley
three of his best corps of infantry and Sherman
's superb cavalry.
When the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia left its winter quarters, on the south bank of the Rapidan
, the 4th of May, 1864, it was commanded by Lieutenant-General Ewell
, and had 20,000 men on duty, fully officered.
It fought Grant
on the 5th and 6th of May at the Wilderness
; on the 8th and 10th at the river Poe
, and on the 12th at Spotsylvania Courthouse, where Jackson
's old division, with its artillery of sixteen pieces, was nearly destroyed at the ‘Bloody Angle
’ by Hancock
It fought again at the North Anna river
, and again at Bethesda Church, or second Cold Harbor.
When General Early
assumed command and was ordered to Lynchburg
with this corps, its ranks had been reduced to less than 6,000 effective men. It was not an army; it was a disorganized rabble-divisions commanded by colonels, brigades by majors, regiments by captains and companies by sergeants, and
a large number of officers were serving in the ranks, carrying muskets.
At Lynchburg Early
was reinforced by Generals Breckinridge
's division of infantry, Jenkins
' and Vaughan
's mounted infantry, William L. Jackson
's and Morgan
His whole force then numbered 10,000 infantry, and about 3,000 cavalry.
He was further reinforced by Kershaw
's division of infantry and Fitzhugh Lee
's cavalry before the Battle of Cedar Creek
, October 19, 1864.
At no time had his army more than 10,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry.
With this disorganized force, he fought and defeated Lew Wallace
at Frederick City, July 6th, and arrived in front of Washington
on July 11th, about 12 M., making his headquarters at Silver Springs
, the residence of lion.
Francis P. Blair
. Being in the enemy's country, he had to march by brigades, each defending its own wagon train, and, it being exceedingly hot, it was nearly dark before he could make a demonstration against Fort Stevens
; and when it was done, it was found that General Grant
had got a corps of his best troops there in its defense.
After consultation, General Early
determined to withdraw his troops again to Winchester
The burning of the home of Montgomery Blair
was wholly an accident, caused by its being unoccupied and at the mercy of straggling soldiers.
, during his entire stay, protected private property to the full extent of his power, and and never gave an order to destroy Blair
, however, concluded not to stay at Winchester
, but proceeded down the Valley
to New Market
He, however, left Major-General Ramseur
with his command, with positive instructions not to bring on a fight.
took dinner with Mr. Phil. Dandridge
, and when the enemy made a demonstration, started his command to chastise them.
Feeling pretty good, no doubt, from the wine at dinner, he was careless in his movements, and when four miles north of Winchester
, ran into an ambuscade, which came near annihilating his command.
He lost his battery of artillery, and several officers and men, and but for William L. Jackson
's cavalry, which was in his rear, unmounted, the entire command would have been captured.
this fight Lieutenant F. Calloway
, aide to General Ramseur
, was shot through the stomach, receiving a wound from which only one in a thousand recovers.
Early remained at New Market
but a few days, returning to Winchester
, and encamped his army along the Valley Turnpike
as far north as Martinsburg
Sheridan at this time had his command strung out along the Berryville Turnpike
to White Post
's command consisted of three corps of infantry, 33,000 men and Sheridan
's superb cavalry of over 10,000, while Early
had only 13,000 all told.
Here these commands rested for six weeks, Sheridan
during the whole time making no demonstration, while his command was three times as large as Early
, however, was not idle.
He ordered Generals Bradley T. Johnson
to meet him, at Williamsport
On the hill overlooking the town General Early
ordered me to write the following with pen and ink: