By B. M. I.
[The following anecdote published in a recent number of the Richmond Standard
is so characteristic of the great man to whom it refers that it deserves a place in our record of material for the future historian, and we cheerfully insert it. It shows that while very exacting in his demands upon others, he was unwilling to rest for a moment when he found that he had done injustice to another.]
The following little incident in the life of General Stonewall Jackson
shows the hero as verily as any of the grand military achievements which later in life rendered him so famous.
As I stood before his statue in the Capitol Grounds
the other day I ran over the four years of my cadet life at the Virginia Military Institute and remembered with pride that he was my professor.
One day when my class was reciting to him on Bartlett
's Mechanics, Cadet
L----was sent to the blackboard, had his subject assigned him, which involved a great deal of analytical work.
The work done, the cadet faced about, assumed the position of a soldier, saluted the Major
(his rank at that time), and indicated his readiness to recite.
During the demonstration Major Jackson
detected, as he thought, some error in the work — may be the sign was plus
when it should have been minus
, or the reverse.
The cadet ventured to insist that his work was right, as much as a cadet dare insist on anything with “old Jack
” (as the Major
was called in cadet parlance). This was offensive to military discipline, and Cadet
L----was ordered to his seat, to which he went with a sad heart, fearing he would not only get a low mark on the class-book, but may be he would be reported for disorderly conduct.
The class was soon dismissed.
The day wore on — a cold, stormy, snowy day in January.
About nine o'clock that night, or just after we had gone to our rooms from tatoo, we heard the sentinel call for the corporal of the guard, and very soon an officer came to our room.
He called out: “L----, old Jack
's in the guard-room and wants you.”
We said: “Ah, old fellow you are gone up for arrest.”
Down the stoop went the cadet, wondering, fearing.
As he entered the guardroom there stood “old Jack
” like a grand old Roman
, snow on his cloak, his cap, and his beard.
The cadet doffed his cap, and saluted him; he returned the salute in his nervous, quick way, and said: “Mr.
L, I have been looking over the subject you had in the lectureroom this morning and comparing it with your analytical work, and I find that you were right and I was wrong and the book was wrong, and I beg your pardon, Mr.
L----. I could not sleep feeling that I had injured you, and I came down to tell you so.”
The cadet, in his joy, said: “Oh, Major
, it made no difference.
I would not have had you walk all the way down here in this storm.”
replied, “That's sufficient, Mr.
L----; retire to your quarters, it is very near taps.”
(Taps was the hour every light was to be put out at the tap of the drum.) Out in that dark howling storm old Stonewall went; his house was fully a mile away; but what cared he for storm or distance; he had wronged a cadet, a private in the ranks, and he could not sleep till the wrong was repaired.
The matter was
mentioned next morning at the mess-hall when we were breakfasting The careless laughed and said “Old Jack is crazy.”
The more thoughtful laid the matter away in their hearts to reflect on in after years, for many knew that he was a stonewall
before he was christened by the fire and blood of Manassas
Many little incidents I remember which show the greatness of his soul.
I send you this hoping its publication may do good in this day when so few act from conviction and dare to do what is just and right.