previous next
[652] closely associated with General Jackson in this movement, it is more than improbable that any serious communication could have passed between him and Colonel Miles without my knowledge; almost impossible it could have been held without the knowledge of some one of the staff. .And yet no one at headquarters ever heard of it; no one in our army ever believed it. The ungrateful charge cannot be true. Colonel Miles was incompetent, but he was no traitor. He was too feeble for the responsibility which fell upon him, but he was too true to his commission to betray his army. The surrender of Harper's Ferry was a deep mortification to the North. If the charges were true, it ought to be greater.

Scarcely in the same connection, but as illustrative of the credulity of people during the war, I recall attention to the beautiful legend of Barbara Fritchie. There are few things among Whittier's poems more touching than this story of the war. It is as tender as the ballad of Maud Muller-and about as true. It seems like iconoclasm to break the poetic image which Mr. Whittier has carved, and if he had not thrown his chippings over Jackson's grave, I would not care to look beyond the beauty of his work. The facts are few. General Jackson's headquarters, in Maryland, were three miles short of Frederick, and, except when he passed through it to leave it, he went into the city but once — on Sunday night to church. On the morning he left, I rode with him through the town. He did not pass the house of Barbara Fritchie; nothing like the fiction of Mr. Whittier ever occurred, and Stonewall Jackson and that historic old lady never saw each other I understand Mr. Whittier has said that if the story, as he told it, is not true, it will go down to posterity as such, until it gets beyond the reach of correction. Exegi monumentum--pardonable loyalty, questionable ambition. It may be suggested with diffidence, that the name of Stonewall Jackson will live as long as that of Mr. Whittier and his poems, and history will teach the poet's children that the Army of Virginia did hot make war upon flags when waved by old women.

The death of General Jackson was characteristic in its singularity. At night, when the battle had ended, just as he had achieved what he believed to be the most successful movement of his career, he, whom the enemy began to believe both invulnerable and invincible, fell at the hands of his own people. It is needless to repeat the painful story of his wounding and death. At first it was not believed his wounds were mortal, and the army thought, in the language of General Lee: “Jackson will not-he cannot die.” But it was written. Pneumonia lent its fearful aid to the enemy, and on

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stonewall Jackson (6)
Whittier (5)
Philip S. Miles (2)
Barbara Fritchie (2)
R. E. Lee (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: