June 17-18, 1864: Battle of Lynchburg

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When it came to military matters Robert E. Lee was a gambler.  His decision to send Jubal Early and his Second Corps off to the Shenandoah Valley in June of 1864 was an example of this, in spite of facing the Army of the Potomac that outnumbered him almost two to one.  Lee’s calculation was simple:  if the Union had control over the Shenandoah it became increasingly difficult for him to feed his army, losing access to the grain bin of the Confederacy and the rail line that allowed it to supply Richmond and Lee’s army.  A Union army under David Hunter was approaching Lynchburg, and Early’s initial mission was to save that essential rail depot.

Acerbic tongued Early had long found fault with his superiors and now he finally had an independent command of his own.  Taking a train to Lynchburg he arrived there at 1:00 PM on June 17, 1864, taking command of the small Confederate force confronting Major General David Hunter’s 16,000 men.  Hunter did not attack until most of Early’s corps had arrived on June 18.  After brief fighting that produced 75 Union casualties and 6 Confederate, Hunter began his retreat back to West Virginia, followed by Early who pursued him for sixty miles over three days.  Early then began to move down the Valley, intent on going on the offensive rather than remaining on defense in the Valley.

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Published in: on June 17, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 17-18, 1864: Battle of Lynchburg  
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