War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0011 Chapter XXIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

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storm. Urging forward by forced marches troops already worn with fatigue, I had reached Franklin in advance of supplies to relieve Schenck and Milroy. The streams at my rear were swollen by the incessant rains and the roads had become almost impassable. With a complement of wagons much exceeding that upon the route the supply would have been but meager even in fair weather. With the limited number available, together with the hindrances encountered, the supply was far below the need. Not so much as one-quarter forage was got forward, an except an incomplete ration of bread no rations had been got up for the men. For days together fresh beef, with a little salt, was the only provision on hand for issue. Coffee, so essential and desirable in the field, was becoming a luxury almost unknown. Subsistence arriving under invoice to a particular brigade was taken by order and so far as it would go distributed amount all. Six lists were largely on the increase, and such was the demoralization induced by privations endured that demonstrations among the men, amounting almost to open mutiny, had in instances to be put down with the strong hand. Of forage in the country about scarcely a single pound could be gleaned. i had already been too well stripped by rebels. Our animals, then, were starving, dying in fact, and by scores, as even prior to my reaching Franklin they had from the same causes begun to do out of the command of General Schenck.

With the order directing my march authority was now given me to order the purchase of horses, or otherwise, in the language of the dispatch, "to lat teto aid me. Naturally upon the absence of forage and the causes which led to it animals also had disappeared. As to waiting for the arrival of horses or mules from Wheeling, that was impossible under the terms of the order. I was to move at once.

Of the different roads leading from Franklin to Harrisonburg all but one had been obstructed by Jackson in his retreat. Brigades and culverts had been destroyed, rocks rolled down, and in one instance trees felled across the way for the distance of nearly a mile. The orad still left open ran southwardly, reaching Harrisonburg by a long detour. Granting, however route, were no consideration, tending to lengthen my line of supplies was a little better than a physical impossibility. The condition of my troops forbade it. Strategically speaking, also, a movement toward Harrisonburg would not have endangered simply-it would have been fail to my lines of supply. Jackson retreating from his raid could stricken westwardly from Strasburg or Winchester by way of Romney of Moorefield, or both. Indeed, as the sequel will develop, it was afterward regarded probable by higher authorities that the had taken these very directions.

Reaching New Creek, then, and petersburg, the rebel leader would have destroyed my depots at these points and captured every train upon the route. Again, while as a practical relief to General Banks the movement by way of harrisonburg would have been of no greater importance than a movement striking the valley farther north or lower down, it would at the same time have permitted the enemy to avoid all chance of collision with my force. My own and the rebel columns would have been constantly moving in opposite directions upon opposite sides of a species of parallelogram, having for its four corners Franklin, Harrisonburg, Strasburg, and Petersburg-or otherwise, Winchester, Romney, &c. Our relative positions only would have been changed, with the difference that the gain would have been