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[599]

As every incident connected with these two great men must interest the reader, I will mention, as quite current, that when General Jackson received the letter which General Lee sent him on Sunday morning, bursting into tears he said: “Far better for the Confederacy that ten Jacksons should have fallen than one Lee.”

General Jackson, after receiving his wound, was conveyed to the house of Mr. Thos. Chandler, in Caroline, where all that skilful attention and attendance could afford to heal his wounds was done, but all in vain; his mission was fulfilled, his work was done; and the hero of the Valley campaign and the Stonewall of the South had passed from earth away.

Of Jackson it may be said what can be affirmed of but few men that have lived in this great struggle, that he has fulfilled a great purpose in history, wrought out the mission for which he was ordered of Providence, and that, “dying, he has left no stain which, living, he would wish to blot.” His example, let us hope and believe, will survive him, and in the coming fight let Jackson's men show to the world that “a dead Jackson shall win the field.”

Who his successor will be, time alone can develop. It may not be out of place to indulge a hope that Jackson's wishes in regard to his successor shall be respected, if, indeed, it be true that he expressed a preference.

To make a recapitulation of the following events, we would say there were the following battles and participants: Wilderness, fifteen miles above Fredericksburgh, where Jackson succeeded in turning the enemy's flank. This may be called, for a proper understanding of the matter, the battle of the Wilderness. It was here that Jackson turned the enemy's flank on Saturday evening, with D. H. Hill's and Trimble's divisions. The next was the fight of Chancellorsville, to which point the enemy fell back on Saturday evening, and around which they centred and made their best fight, lasting from dawn until midday of Sunday. In this fight, D. H. Hill and Trimble pressed them from above, whilst A. P. Hill, McLaws, and Anderson not only held them in check in attempting to force our lower lines, but aided in driving them from their breastworks, and accomplished the great victory of Sunday, which, indeed, was the turning-point in the whole affair. The taking of the heights on Sunday morning may properly be called the battle of Fredericksburgh. There were at this point Barksdale's brigade of McLaws's division, and a part, I think, of Hayes's Louisiana brigade, though of this I am not positive.

The next engagement was on Sunday evening. The troops here engaged consisted of Anderson's and McLaws's. This occurred near Salem Church, about four miles south-west of Fredericksburgh, and may, we suppose, be regarded as the battle of Salem Church. The result of this fight was, that our men drove the enemy back fully a mile in the direction of Fredericksburgh. The closing engagements occurred along the line of the plank-road and toward Banks's Ford, by which route the enemy succeeded in recrossing the river. The troops engaged on our side were the divisions of Anderson and McLaws, who held the positions nearest the river, on the upper line, and the brigades of Hays, Hoke, and Lawton on the lower line; whilst the Mississippians, under Barksdale, and Smith's brigade of Early's division, guarded the rear from an attack outward from Fredericksburgh — the heights having been previously taken, without the firing of a gun, on Monday morning by Gordon's brigade, with charged bayonets. This was a glorious achievement, the crowning act of the great drama. It may be fitly called, we think, the “rout at Banks's Ford.”

In order to give some idea of this great occasion in our history, I have thus endeavored to outline what will hereafter be written in detail and with accuracy by abler pens. It would afford me unalloyed satisfaction, not only to speak of the regiments and brigades which especially deserve mention, but, going a step further, I would wish to be possessed of information sufficient to enable me to set forth the many acts of daring bravery and gallantry of our officers, but of the private soldiers as well. This, however, is impossible. It may, however, be some satisfaction to those who cannot be specially remembered, for me to say that I have from the highest authority that no battle-fields of this war are more prolific in the gallant deeds of brave men than those through which our armies have just passed. Yet, where so many brave feats have been accomplished, the statement ought, in some measure, to relieve the ignorance and inability of correspondents to do justice; and where those are omitted, of whom mention ought to be made, let such remember that the general rule is, that all deserve well of their country in the army of Northern Virginia, and if there be any exceptions to it, the exceptions are as the motes upon the sunbeams, which are obscured and lost in the brilliancy of that luminary.

I have well-nigh finished my story. All that is necessary to complete it will be the mention of the arrests of nearly all males whom the enemy found in their lines on this side of the river outside of the town. Inside of town none were disturbed. Some dozen or more were thus spirited away. So it goes, fire and sword, and an abrogation of personal liberty follow in the march of these cruel people. The rich and fertile valley of the Rappahannock, once at this season so resplendent with its fields of waving grain, the abundant rewards of an honest husbandry, no longer greet the eye. But the sight is saluted in the stead with an uncultivated tract of fertile land, with here and there the charred ruins of some fine house of colonial style and construction. This poor old town, too, battered, and, in some instances, demolished, is just now smiling in the gay robes of rich, ripe verdure with which spring has bedecked her. She is far from finished, and will yet live in history, an undying memorial of the brutality of our foe, and an imperishable monument of sacrificing patriotism.


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Stonewall Jackson (6)
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