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|History of Cambria County, V.2|
|HISTORY OF CAMBRIA COUNTY.||143|
cross the mountain into West Virginia, leaving Gen. Early in full possession of Shenandoah Valley. He began his retreat about 8:30 p. m. with the enemy following in close pursuit and giving him much trouble which will appear from the statements of the officers.
It was a terrible retreat, but it has always been regarded by military men as a brilliant move to escape capture, which was inevitable after Early joined Breckinridge. The suffering of the men for want of food is concisely stated in the excellent diary kept by Corporal Jonas B. Kauffman, of Company E; also in the graphic letter from Capt. Suter, written a few days after the event.
Gen. Grant expected much advantage to be gained in a victorious campaign as it would be the means of closing in on Lee at Petersburg; however, he did not censure Hunter and in referring to it he said:
Up to this time (June 16) Hunter was very successful; and but for the difficulty of taking with him sufficient ordnance stores over so long a march, through a hostile country, he would, no doubt, have captured that, to the enemy, important point (Lynchburg). * * * To meet this movement Gen. Lee sent a force, perhaps equal to a corps, a part of which reached Lynchburg a short time before Hunter. After some skirmishing on the 17th and 18th, General Hunter, owing to a want of ammunition to give battle, retired from before the place. * * * Had Gen. Hunter moved by way of Charlottesville, instead of Lexington, as his instructions contemplated, he would have been in a position to have covered the Shenandoah Valley against the enemy, should the force he met have seemed to endanger it. If it did not, he would have been within easy distance of the James River canal, on the main line of communications between Lynchburg and the force sent to its defence. I have never taken exception to the operations of Gen. Hunter, and am not now disposed to find fault with him, for I have no doubt he acted within what he conceived to be the spirit of his instructions and the interests of the service.
BATTLE OF LYNCHBURG, VA.
Hdqrs. Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry,Colonel: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fifty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the late raid through Virginia since joining your brigade at Staunton, Va., on the 9th ultimo, including the engagement near Lynchburg, Va., on the 17th and 18th of June, 1864.
Camp Piatt, W. Va., July 2, 1864.