Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 25, 1863 (Friday): Valley Update

General Benjamin F. Kelley (

February 25, 1863.
Brigadier General B. F. KELLEY,
Harper's Ferry, Va.:
GENERAL: My cavalry have encountered the scouts and pickets of the rebels several times within the last week at and near Strasburg. Had a skirmish there yesterday, and captured a horse and rigging belonging to the rebel cavalry. I sent a battalion of the First New York Volunteer Cavalry to Wardensville on last Saturday. They found no rebels there, but the people were confidently looking for Imboden every hour. A gentleman arrived here to day from Harrisburg, having flanked the rebel pickets, who, I have good reason to believe, is a good Union man, and reports that [V. A.] Witcher's rebel cavalry regiment, raised in East Tennessee and Virginia, passed through Harrisonburg on Friday last to join the rebel forces under Jones; that Imboden went west, through Brock's Gap, last week, to come down west of North Mountain, either to Romney or between here and Romney, with 2,500 men; that a Georgia cavalry regiment, 1,100 strong, had come across from Madison Court-House to near Luray, and that a strong infantry force was moving in the direction of Berryville from Culpeper. This cavalry and infantry were under Stuart. The rebels here are expecting their friends soon.
      It is also reported that General Fitzhugh Lee is to supersede Jones, and that he intends making raids upon the Baltimore and Ohio Railraod.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. H. MILROY,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 106.

Milroy's information was largely accurate.  There was much agitation to remove Jones from command in the Valley and Stuart was operating in the area.   As always, the defense of Romney was critical to the defense of western Virginia.  Kelley spent his entire Civil War career in command of forces defending the rail lines leading west from the Valley. 

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