Confederate Sargeant S. A. Dunning gives a statement to Union officers on the February, 1865, disposition of Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley. Dunning mentions a stage that runs daily from Staunton to Mount Jackson. Dunning also mentions the condition of Valley citizens.
February 4, 1865.
Statement of Sergt. S. A. Dunning, Signal Corps, C. S. Army, attached to Gen. Early's headquarters:
I entered the Federal lines Thursday, February 2. I had with me another man at Pitman Point, at the extreme end of the Massanutten Mountain, near Strasburg. Have been there about two months. We had a very fine glass (captured from the Federal Army), with which we could look into the streets of Winchester. No force can leave Winchester or go to Strasburg, Front Royal, Ashby's Gap, or Snicker's Gap, or in any direction, without being seen, except at night or rainy weather. We were on post from 8 a. m. until 3 p. m. Usually we boarded with Mr. Bruash Mackintosh, near the signal station. My companion will think that I am captured, as I told him I was going on a scout. There is a chain of signal stations, all connecting with New Market, from which place a telegraph goes to Gen. Early's headquarters. There is a station on the mountain at Ashby's Gap; one at Hominy Hollow, on Bock's Hill, near Front Royal; one at Burnt Springs, on Fort Mountain, opposite Honeyville, at Ed. Brownman's, between Burnt Springs and New Market Gap, and the station at Pitman Point. I am perfectly familiar with the rebel signal code. The road through Fort Valley is very bad. It would be very difficult for a cavalry force ot go through there; the road crosses a creek several times, and when the crossings are frozen up it is almost impossible to cross. After a thaw there would not be much trouble. A large number of the citizens in Fort Valley are Dunkards and Union men. A number of stragglers and men on furlough are constantly in the Fort Valley visiting their friends. Mosby has not yet recovered from his wound. Four of his companies have been sent to Northern Neck, Washington County; the rest of his men are scattered through Loundoun and Fauquirer Counties. They are not doing much scouting because of the difficulty in crossing the river. Gilmor is in command of McNeill's company, near Moorefield. There is a picket-post of three companies at Edenburg. The furnace in Fort Valley, about eight miles from Edenburg, is working for the government; no guard there. No forces between Edenburg and Staunton. The stages run daily between Mount Jackson and Staunton. Gen. Early is at Fishersville. His chief signal officer is Capt. R. E. Wilbourn; chief of artillery, Gen. Long; chief of cavalry, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. Brig.-Gen. Wharton commands Breckinridge's old division, about 3,000 strong, about three miles from Fishersville. Gen. Long has a park of probably forty-five guns; there are, besides, two horse batteries (Fitzhugh's and Chew's). Fitzhugh Lee has his headquarters at Waynesborough, or near there. Rosser and Lomax are the cavalry division commanders. Rosser's old brigade is at Swoope's Station, near Buffalo Gap. Two regiments of Payne's brigade are at Lexington; the rest of the brigade is at Fishersville. Wickham's brigade is east of the Blue Ridge, between the mountain and Charlottesville. Imboden is near Buffalo Gap. McCausland and Jackson are in Highland County. I estimate the effective cavalry force of Gen. Early's command at 5,000; not more. I am positive forage is very scarce, and it is now very difficult to get a new horse when a man is dismounted. There is no force at Staunton. Early is very unpopular. Gordon is the favorite of the troops. He was with me on the mountain overlooking Gen. Sheridan's army at Cedar Creek the day previous to the attack on the 19th last October; he planned the attack. The citizens in the Valley are very destitute, and depend principally on their friends below Mount Jackson twenty-four hors. Numbers of the rebel cavalry are in the habit of visiting Newtown. They frequently spend twenty-four hours there. A few days since a captain in the First Virginia Cavalry visited his friends there. They will not disturb the Yankee soldiers, for fear the citizens will suffer. There is nothing to prevent a spy from going to Staunton via Fort Valley, along the foot of Massanutten Mountain by Conrad's Store. There are no pickets. I have never known a mounted man to be stopped. Cavalry soldiers seldom desert; they fear their horses will be taken away from them.
Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 46, Serial No. 96, Pages 385-386, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.