satisfactorily if he had desired, or persuaded any one of the wisdom of those unprecedented and eccentric movements of his, which violated all the rules of war, and always ended so brilliantly.
His reticence, his mystery, were necessities of his nature, as much as the result of his unparalleled self-reliance; a self-reliance which can only be appreciated by those who know that the courage necessary to go through a battle is not to be compared with that necessary to inaugurate it. “Audacity, audacity, always audacity,” was the motto of Danton
So thought Jackson
, too. After the defeat of Banks
, and before he moved forward to Harper's Ferry
, he knew that McDowell
were moving against his rear, and what their design was; and yet he marched boldly into the trap prepared for him, and then broke it into pieces and escaped.
But as a soldier, he was guided by another principle which he once tersely expressed thus: “Mystery, mystery is the secret of success.”
This mystery was not an affectation; it was a policy, a conviction.
He was compelled to take his staff and his general officers into his confidence, and when he did so he did it without reluctance or distrust.
But they never attempted to force his confidence, and once he ordered one of his body-guard to be dismounted, and “put under arrest as a spy,” for repeating to him an ill-timed question about the movements of a division.
His most popular virtue was swiftness of execution.
With him action kept pace with design.
He was the rapidest mover in the South
, and, from the very outstart of the war, his old brigade and division were known as “Jackson
's foot cavalry.”
“What sort of man is your Stonewall, anyway?”
said one of Pope
's men; “are his soldiers made of gutta-percha, or do they run on wheels?”
And when the raid once began, or the battle had been joined, he never hesitated, and rarely changed his first plans.
He sometimes went at his object with such apparent recklessness that he marched into battle by the flank, and commenced the fight with the first file of four.
This kind of movement would not stand the test of military criticism, but it always succeeded.
“The fate of a battle is the result of a moment, of a thought,” said Napoleon
The deplorable weakness of indecision, which has wrecked so many military reputations, was unknown to Jackson
Golden opportunities lost have changed many a shout of victory into a cry of defeat, and from Carrick's ford to Gettysburg
the track of war is lined with the graves of brave men who died while their generals were deliberating.
In absolute freedom from this weakness, Stonewall Jackson
deserves a place by the side of Napoleon
, the Archduke Charles
, and Frederick the Great