MARCH TO LYNCHBURG, AND PURSUIT OF HUNTER.
On the 12th of June, while the 2nd Corps (Ewell's) of the Army of Northern Virginia was lying near Gaines's Mill, in rear of Hill's line at Cold Harbour, I received verbal orders from General Lee to hold the corps, with two of the battalions of artillery attached to it, in readiness to move the Shenandoah Valley. Nelson's and Braxton's battalions were selected, and Brigadier-General Long was ordered to accompany me as Chief of Artillery. After dark, on the same day, written instructions were given me by General Lee, by which I was directed to move, with the force designated, at 3 o'clock next morning, for the Valley, by way of Louisa C. H. and Charlottesville, and through Brown's or Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge, as I might find most advisable; to strike Hunter's force in the rear, and, if possible, destroy it: then to move down the Valley, cross the Potomac near Leesburg in Loudon County, or at or above Harper's Ferry, as I might find most practicable, and threaten Washington City. I was further directed to communicate with General Breckenridge, who would co-operate with me in the attack on Hunter, and the expedition into Maryland.
At this time the railroad and telegraph lines between Charlottesville and Lynchburg had been cut by a cavalry force from Hunter's army; and those between Richmond and Charlottesville had been cut by Sheridan's cavalry, from Grant's army; so that there was no communication with Breckenridge. Hunter was supposed to be at Staunton with his whole force, and Breckenridge was supposed to be at Waynesboro, or Rockfish Gap. If such had been the case, the route designated by General Lee would have carried me into the Valley in Hunter's rear.
The 2nd Corps now numbered a little over 8,000 muskets