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20 Series I Volume XXXVIII-I Serial 72 - The Atlanta Campaign Part I

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Page 20 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

General Sheridan attacked General Early at the crossing on the Opequon Creek, and after a most sanguinary and bloody battle, lasting until 5 o'clock in the evening, defeated him with heavy loss, carrying his entire position from Opequon Creek to Winchester, capturing several thousand prisoners and 5 pieces of artillery. The enemy rallied and made a stand in a strong position at Fisher's Hill, where he was attacked and again defeated with heavy loss on the 20th [22d]. Sheridan pursued him with great energy through Harrisonburg. Staunton, and the gaps of the Blue Ridge. After stripping the upper Valley of most of the supplies and provisions for the rebel army, he returned to Strasburg and took position on the north side of Cedar Creek.

Having received considerable re-enforcements, General Early again returned to the Valley, and on the 9th of October his cavalry encountered ours near Strasburg, where the rebels were defeated with the loss of 11 pieces of artillery and 350 prisoners. On the night of the 18th the enemy crossed the mountains which separate the branches of the Shenandoah, forded the North Fork, and early on the morning of the 19th, under cover of the darkness and the fog, surprised and turned our left flank, capturing the batteries which enfiladed our whole line. Our troops fell back with heavy loss and in much confusion, but were finally rallied between Middletown and Nowtown. At this juncture General Sheridan, who was at Winchester when the battle commenced, arrived on the field, arranged his lines just in time to repulse a heavy attack of the enemy, and immediately assuming the offensive, he attacked in turn with great vigor. The enemy was defeated with great slaughter, and the loss of most of his artillery and trains, and the trophies he had captured in the morning. The wreck of his army escaped during the night, and fled in the direction of Staunton and Lynchburg. Pursuit was made to Mound Jackson. Thus ended this the enemy's last attempt to invade the North via the Shenandoah Valley. I was now enabled to return the Sixth Corps to the Army of the Potomac, and to send one division from Sheridan's army to the Army of the James, and another to Savannah, Ga., to hold Sherman's new acquisitions on the sea-coast, and thus enable him to move without detaching from his force for that purpose.*

Reports from various sources led me to believe that the enemy had detached three divisions from Petersburg to re-enforce Early in the Shenandoah Valley. I therefore sent the Second Corps and Gregg's division of cavalry, of the Army of the Potomac, and a force of General Butler's army, on the night of the 13th of August, to threaten Richmond from the north side of the James, to prevent him from sending troops away, and, if possible, to draw back those sent. In this move we captured 6 pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners, detained troops that were under marching orders, and ascertained that but one division (Kershaw's) of the three reputed detached had gone. The enemy having withdrawn heavily from Petersburg to resist this movement, the Fifth Corps, General Warren commanding, was moved out on the 18th and took possession of the Weldon railroad. During the day he had considerable fighting. To regain possession of the road the enemy made repeated and desperate assaults, but was each time repulsed with great loss.

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*Subordinate reports of operations in the Shenandoah Valley from August 4 to December 31, 1864, will appear in Vol. XLIII.

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Page 20 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

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