Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28, 1862 (Sunday): Jackson at Swift Run Gap

Swift Run Gap Towards Elkton (Grafton)-Google Earth

SWIFT RUN GAP, April 28, 1862. 

General R. E. LEE, Commanding C. S. Army:
    GENERAL: I should have answered your letter of 23rd instant before this had I possessed the requisite information. I have reason to believe that Banks has near 21,000 men within a day's march of me. he

has moved his main body from New Market to Harrisonburg, leaving probably a brigade at New Market and between the town and the Shenandoah to guard against a force getting in his rear. I am a strong advocate of concentrating our forces on the enemy in his exposed positions. I have made arrangements for ascertaining whether there is still a force in the vicinity of Warrenton. Day before yesterday the enemy drove in my picket, and being apprehensive that Banks would advance on me, I requested General Ewell to move forward in the direction of Swift Run Gap, in the vicinity of which he now is. It may be that in a few days I will be able to attack some exposed point.
    If you could send me 5,000 more troops by railroad to Charlottesville I would join that re-enforcement at Port Republic, and move directly from that point on Banks if the does not receive re-enforcements. On yesterday week there were near 7,000 men in the neighborhood of Winchester, under Blenker; as yet I have not heard of their having joined Banks. Whilst I propose to attack Banks in front if you will send me 5,000 more men, yet the more you can send the better, as it would not only increase the prospect of success in battle, but would also increase the prospect of reaping the fruit of victory. As Charlottesville is connected by railroad with Fredericksburg, could you not send me troops from Fredericksburg? Now, it appears to me, is the golden opportunity for striking a blow. Until I hear from you I will watch an opportunity for attacking some exposed point.
    If Banks would advance on me here, I have, with General Ewell, ample force for driving him back; but it does not appear to me that Banks designs pursuing me farther in their direction.
    Should it become necessary, General Ewell and myself can move on Warrenton either via Sperryville or by Orange Court-House.
    I am, general, your obedient servant,

    T. J. JACKSON,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 871.

Jackson had positioned himself at Swift Run Gap to prevent Banks from moving further up (South) the Valley.  Positioned as Jackson was, he would be able to fall in on Banks rear if he moved further.  Fremont had begun moving off to the West as part of a plan to invade East Tennessee.  With Union forces thus divided, the opportunity to strike a blow became more attractive to Jackson, who had been given wide latitude by Lee in Richmond to develop his own plans.   

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