Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/289
The Campaign and Battle of Lynchburg. 281
west of Lynchburg, for the purpose of destroying Lee's communi- cations with the South and Southwest over that important conduit of supplies.
By these raids some damage was done by burning depots and overturning bridges, but none which caused any permanent injury or produced any serious delay in transportation over it. Except for local panics and the destruction of a small amount of property, these raids were, from a strategic point of view, a useless expenditure of military strength. They did, however, fortunately direct the atten- tion of the Confederate authorities to the importance of this line and greatly increase their vigilance.
On the Qth of June, 1864, when Averell's plan was laid before Hunter, he approved and adopted it. He was then at Staunton, Virginia, in command of an army, the exact number of which is not disclosed by the records. The official report for the month of May, 1864, for that department, discloses the fact that upon the 3ist of that month there was in it an aggregate present for duty of 36,509. (70 Id., 571.) The published correspondence shows that during the month of May every possible effort was made to concentrate these forces, and it seems from the roster that every brigade and division in the department was represented at Staunton when the expedition started. Hence, making due allowance for heavy details on guard, provost and escort duty, it may well be claimed that when the start was made there were present for duty, of all arms, at least 25,000 men, fresh and well equipped. (Id., 103.)
Some of these troops, like their leader, were renegades from the traditions and instincts of their forefathers, and hence very little to be trusted; but far the greater proportion of the force was composed of high types of the soldier from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, and, under a proper leader, would have been very formidable. The want of such a leader, despite the efficient aid of able subordinates, made the campaign a fiasco with no historical parallel, except, per- haps, that of the famous King of France, who,
"With twenty thousand men, Marched up the hill, and then marched down again."
Hunter's army consisted of four divisions, two of infantry, com- manded respectively by Generals Sullivan and Crook, and two of cavalry, severally commanded by Generals Duffie and Averell. Each division consisted of three brigades, and they were accompanied by eight batteries of artillery, with an aggregate of thirty-two guns.