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The dogwoods were beginning to blossom on the lower levels of the Shenandoah Valley when Stonewall Jackson struck. "Old Jack," as his troops called him, had been issued formidable orders: block any Federal advance into the Valley and stop theYankees from shifting reinforcements eastward against Richmond. With steel-like determination, Jackson unleashed a spring campaign that was unlike any other.

He struck first at Kernstown, was turned back, then reappeared at McDowell and overwhelmed the enemy there. With Federal forces stung and puzzled, Jackson led his fast-marching "foot cavalry" through Virginia's Buffalo Gap, then turned northward to make a surprise strike. Moving with startling speed, he defeated the Federal Garrison at Front Royal, repulsed the principal Northern army at Winchester, fell back before a much larger enemy army, then turned and whipped the Federals again at Cross Keys and Fort Republic. Observed a captured Northern soldier as Jackson passed: "Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't be caught in this trap."

Federal forces were stunned, mystified and distracted. With 17,000 troops, General Jackson had baffled and defeated enemy forces totaling more than 64,000. Northern plans were thwarted, the life of the Confederacy was extended, and the great "Stonewall" was celebrated as a military genius. For Southerners, Jackson'sspectacular campaign produced a springtime of hope.

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