War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0524 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

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capturing 6. No loss reported on our side. Prisoners report that Jackson's train was arriving at Harrisonburg yesterday from the west.

N. P. BANKS,

Major-General, Commanding.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SHENANDOAH,

Strasburg, Va., May 22, 1862.

SIR: The return of the rebel forces of General Jackson to the valley, after his forced march against Generals Milroy and Schenck, increases my anxiety for the safety of the position I occupy and that of the troops under my command. That he has returned there can be no doubt. We have information direct from the people of the neighborhood, from prisoners that we have captured from him, from deserters, an also from General Fremont, who telegraphs his march in this direction.

From all the information I can gather-and I do not wish to excite alarm unnecessarily-I am compelled to believe that he meditates attack here. I regard it as certain that he will move north as far as New Market, a position which commands the mountain gap and the roads into the Department of the Rappahannock, and enables him also to co-operate with General Ewell, who is still at Swift Run Gap. Once at New Market, they are within 25 miles of Strasburg, with a force of not less than 16,000 men. my available force is between 4,000 and 5,000 infantry, 1,800 cavalry, and sixteen pieces of artillery.

We are compelled to defend at two points, both equally accessible to the enemy-the Shenandoah Valley road, opening near the railway bridges, and the turnpike.

We are preparing defenses as rapidly as possible, but with the best aid of this character my force is insufficient to meet the enemy in such strength as he will certainly come, if he attacks us at all, and our situation certainly invites attack in the strongest manner. We greatly need heavier artillery for the fortification constructing in the town. A battery of 20-pounder Parrott guns will only place us on a level with the guns of the enemy. My infantry should be increased, if possible, both for defense of the town and the protection of the railway and bridges. To guard the railway well it is indispensable that Chester Gap should be occupied, but I have not sufficient force for this. There are two advanced points in front of the railway which should be held by our troops-one at Orleans, in front of Rectortown, General Geary's present position; the other at Chester Gap. These temporarily occupied by a respectable force, say two regiments each, the neighborhood would soon be cleared of guerrillas and scouting parties and the perfect safety of the road secured. At present our danger is imminent at both the line of the road and the position of Strasburg. Our line is greatly extended; the positions and property to be protected of vital importance, and the enemy is in our immediate neighborhood in very great superiority of numbers.

To these important considerations ought to be added the persistent adherence of Jackson to the defense of the valley and his well-known purpose to expel the Government troops from this country if in his power. This may be assumed as certain. There is probably no one more fixed and determined purpose in the whole circle of the enemy's plans. Upon anything like equal ground his purposes will be defeated.