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History of Cambria County, V.2

HISTORY OF CAMBRIA COUNTY. 81
    Railroads pass through Manassas Gap and Rock Fish Gap. The city of Lynchburg is on the east side of the Ridge, about one hundred miles west of Petersburg, and about twenty miles west of Appomattox Court House. A railroad runs from Lynchburg, passing through Farmville, over the High Bridge, and through Burkeville to Petersburg.
    When Gen. Grant assumed command of all the Union armies, in March, '64, he considered the Shenandoah Valley an essential part of the field for the Army of the Potomac. A study of the valley will show its peculiar natural defenses, which General Lee for three years had used to his advantage in making his northern invasions and re-enforcing his troops on either side of the Blue Ridge. Col. Campbell's 54th Regiment served in the valley in the year of '64, and later Capt. Blough's Company K of the 18th Cavalry was there, making in all six companies from Johnstown.
    Gen. Grant directed Gen. Sigel to proceed up the valley, occupy Lynchburg and destroy the railroad. He started about May 4, and on the 15th, meeting Gen. Breckinridge at New Market, was defeated. Gen. Hunter succeeded him, and again started the Lynchburg campaign. He met the enemy at Piedmont and Lexington, was victorious, and passed over the Blue Ridge at the Peaks of Otter. He was very successful until he reached Lynchburg, where he was defeated on June 17 and 18. He made the distressing retreat across the mountain to the Kanawha, which under the conditions prevailing was a sound military movement.
    Gen. Lee feared the fate of his army at Petersburg if Hunter should be victorious at that point, therefore the day before the battle he sent Gen. Early with a corps from Petersburg to reinforce Breckinridge. This large force surrounded Hunter (54th Regiment), except on the westerly side, which compelled Hunter to take that course. After Hunter had returned, he again started up the valley (54th Regiment), but was not making the progress desired by Gen. Grant. In August, Grant selected Gen. P. H. Sheridan as one who had the energy and vigor to do the work required, and gave him command of all the troops in the valley (54th Regiment). In less than sixty days he made the most brilliant campaign in military annals, and by October 19 had routed the enemy from the valley.
    The 54th Regiment and Capt. Blough's Company K of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry were a part of Sheridan's magnifi-


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Created: 17 Mar 2003, Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors