War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0907 Chapter LV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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advantages given the enemy, General Sheridan showed no trepidation, but gave Early's men opportunity to try his powers, and at this leisure took up the retrogade down the Valley. At Winchester General Sheridan halted, remained long enough to give the enemy a chance to fight, and without being driven, or seemingly being compelled again dropped back to Berryville, where he again halted until the enemy came up, and here gave him every opportunity to attack, which, declining to do, Sheridan again moved back, halting at Charlestown and offering the same inducements to battle. It seemed pretty well established that the enemy would have given battle here had Sheridan remained another day. Early had developed our line by the fight of Sunday, and at night it is said massed his forces for a sudden assault. Monday morning daylight, however, found Sheridan in position where he now is. During this march to the rear the cavalry carefully watched the right and left, and at no time has it been possible for the enemy to have passed through the Blue Ridge for Washington, or to the right and into Pennsylvania without General Sheridan being almost immediately apprised of it. The movements of our army have been such as to deceive even its own officers, and it is thought thus far have baffled the enemy, who has acted as though he thought Sheridan inviting rather avoiding battle, and ready at any time to assume the offensive should Early for a moment weaken his force or uncover himself. The impression in our army, and it seems to have reached the enemy, is that our force numbers about 50,000, and this may account for the caution Early uses, and the fact that he holds his army solidly and in close hand. The advantages are now all with Sheridan, as they were all with Early at Cedar Creek.

Early cannot cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown into Pennsylvania, as its proximity would enable Sheridan to strike his column in flank at a moment of his own choosing. He will not attempt a like movement at Williamsport as Sheridan could immediately put his army in their rear and close all lines of communication south, and with such aid as could be readily given him, annihilate the enemy. He cannot pass through Snicker's Gap toward Washington without his movemenet being known in six hours from its commencement; he would enter a country lately made desolate and wholly incapable of subsisting an army, and could not reach Washington so soon as could Sheridan by the north side. It was necessary for Early, designing either of these objects, to have first beaten Sheridan and at least temporarily to have rendered his army powerless. This he has failed to do, and it is no longer possible for him to do it. But one course is left him (many miles from his supplies in a country recently devastated by the torch), viz, go back up the Valley and abandon the campaign wholly, or commence a new one under more favorable auspices; and having learned by the experience of this one, every evidence indicates that the enemy will within a very few hours take up the line of retreat. Sheridan's is in splendid condition, well in hand and manifesting the greatest anxiety for a fight. There is feeling of entire confidence in their leader, and regiments talk about being able to whip brigades. Sheridan really has a very fine army here, and the universal good spirits that prevail and anxiety to fight manifested would make it a hard army to complete with. As this is the campaign of the enemy, and not of our army, I think it may be set down as a failure, and therefore a success to our arms. Sheridan will begin from this time to harass them, and cannot fail to inflict severe punishment before they leave the Valley.