General Jubal Early set out to make a nuisance of himself by harassing the Washington defenses. After General Hunter's Federals retreated from Lynchburg, Early's Army of the Valley raced northward down the Shenandoah Valley. Crossing the Potomac River into Maryland, Early headed for Washington. Federal General Lew Wallace attempted to delay Early's advance near Frederick on July 9, 1864. In a costly, time consuming battle along Monocacy Creek, the Confederates forced Wallace to fall back into the Washington defenses. Early's force arrived outside Washington on July 11, causing a near panic in the capital. Militia units and convalescents manned the fortifications, and Lincoln appealed to General Grant for reinforcements. With the veteran Federal VI and XIX Corps marching into the ring of Washington forts, Early sparred lightly with Fort Stevens, and then fell back into Virginia.
The Federals linked up with Hunter's small command, now under Major General George Crook, and pursued Early to Snickers Gap. Striking Early at Cool Springs on July 18, the Federals watched the Confederates retreat southward, and assumed the worst was over. Crook's force remained to guard the Valley, while the rest of the Federal troops started back to the Richmond-Petersburg front.
Early forced them to return when he attacked Crook on July 23, defeating him at the battle of Second Kernstown. Before the Federal army could return to the Valley, Early kept his Confederate army occupied: quickly following the Kernstown victory,
Early advanced to Martinsburg where he destroyed the railroad. At the same time, he dispatched his cavalry on a mission of revenge, sending them into Pennsylvania on a raid to Chambersburg. Arriving on July 30, the Confederates demanded the town pay an indemnity for property destroyed by Hunter's previous campaign in the Valley. When the citizens of Chambersburg failed to pay, the Confederates burned the town.
Grant had had enough of Early's mischief: during August 5, the Federal commander ordered General Philip Sheridan to rid the Valley of Early forever.
Battery Rodgers on the Potomac River. By 1864, the Washington defenses had been extended to such a degree that their circuit was thirty-three miles. One observer commented that, in comparison, the Richmond defenses were "the merest castle-building of children"
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Early retreats from
July 23: Early surprises arid defeats ' Crook's Federals in die Second Ba^ilc Kernstown
Quick to decide and almost inflexible in decision, with a boldness to attack that approached rashness and a tenacity in resisting that resembled desperation, [Early] was yet on the field of battle not equal to his own intellect or decision."
A Confederate officer serving on Early's staff.
outnumbered, engaged the Confederates at Monocacy Junction, (right.) but was forced back toward Baltimore. He had, however, won a precious 24 hours for Washington's defenders.
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