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|History of Cambria County, V.2|
|HISTORY OF CAMBRIA COUNTY.||371|
he began his Valley campaign. He desired the usual information which all commanders seek to acquire before getting into a fight. This information is procured by scouts or given by friends under cover, or even by deserters and prisoners, if the latter are voluble. The most important thing at that time was to have a loyal friend residing in Winchester. Sheridan made inquiry of Gen. Crook, who gave the name of Miss Rebecca M. Wright, the Quaker teacher of a small private school in Winchester.
The general succeeded in procuring an old colored man who toted vegetables to that town from his little place near Millwood to carry a note to her. On September 15, '64, Sheridan wrote thus : “I learn from Gen. Crook that you are a loyal lady, and still love the old flag” ; then he indicates the information he desires as to the numbers and location of Early's troops. The note was delivered and on the following night the colored messenger returned with the answer : “I have no communication whatever with the rebels, but will tell you what I know. * * I will take pleasure hereafter in learning all I can of their strength and position, and the bearer may call again.”
The information she gave was that on the evening of the 15th a convalescent Confederate officer visiting her mother's house had incidentally mentioned that Kershaw's division of infantry and Cutshaw's battalion of artillery had left Early's army and rejoined Gen. Lee. Miss Wright did not attach any importance to the statement until she received Sheridan's note. It was the very fact which he desired to know, and then and there he decided to make the attack on the 19th. This gave the Union cause the greatest victory it had had in the Army of the Potomac that year. By Gen. Sheridan Miss Wright is given the credit of bringing on the action.
After the Fisher Hill engagement Sheridan pursued Gen. Early until September 25, when he halted near Cedar Creek. He continued the destruction of public property and laid the Valley waste, so that it could not furnish food for Lee's army. The enemy's cavalry were routed at Tom's Brook, October 9, and the following day the army halted on the north side of Cedar Creek.
There were six companies from Johnstown in this battle, which was commanded by Maj.-Gen. P. H. Sheridan. Five of