Shenandoah Valley in West Virginia provided a corridor for Confederates to invade the North, with the Blue Ridge Mountains acting as a shield for Confederates to enter Maryland, and Washington DC. Confederate General Jubal Early managed to reach the outskirts of Washington DC in July 1864, but retreated to the Valley after being pushed back by Union soldiers. Union General Philip Sheridan was tasked with engaging and routing Early’s army. On 6 October, Sheridan conducted a scorched earth campaign to destroy Valley crops used to feed the Confederate soldiers. Early pursued Sheridan, with the two armies meeting at Tom’s Brook on 9 October. Early’s army was outnumbered 3:1, by Sheridan’s 40,000 strong corps. The Union army routed two divisions of Confederate cavalry. After a further clash at Cedar Creek on 19 October, Early’s army was neutralized. Early stayed in command of a reduced force, which was defeated at Mount Crawford and Waynesboro on 2–3 March 1865.
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