previous next


These were the elements which shaped Jackson's distinctive characteristics as a soldier and commander which may be most concisely stated: a natural genius for the art of war, without which no professional training will ever develop the highest order of military talent; a power of abstraction and self-concentration which enabled him to determine every proper combination and disposition of his forces, without the slightest mental confusion—even in those supreme moments when his face and form underwent a sort of transfiguration amid the flame and thunder of battle; a conviction of the moral superiority of aggressive over defensive warfare in elevating the courage of his own men and in depressing that of the enemy; an almost intuitive insight into the plans of the enemy, and an immediate perception of the time to strike the most stunning blow, from the most unlooked — for quarter; a conviction of the necessity of following every such blow with another, and more terrible, so as to make every success a victory, and every victory so complete as to compel the speedy termination of the war.

In the county where all that is mortal of this great hero sleeps, there is a natural bridge of rock whose massive arch, fashioned with grace by the hand of God, springs lightly toward the sky, spanning a chasm into whose awful depth the beholder looks down bewildered and awe-struck. That bridge is among the cliffs what Niagara is among the waters—a visible expression of sublimity, a glimpse of God's great strength and power.

But its grandeur is not diminished because tender vines clamber over its gigantic piers, or because sweet scented flowers nestle in its crevices and warmly color its cold gray columns. Nor is the granite strength of our dead chieftain's character weakened because in every throb of his heart there was a pulsation so ineffably and exquisitely tender, as to liken him, even amidst the horrors of war, to the altar of pity which ancient mythology reared among the shrines of strong and avenging deities.

This admirable commingling of strength and tenderness in his nature is touchingly illustrated by a letter, now for the first time made public.

An officer under his command had obtained leave of absence to visit a stricken household. A beloved member of his family had just died, another was seriously ill, and he applied for an extension of his furlough. This is the reply:

My Dear Major,—I have received your sad letter, and wish I

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Jackson (Tennessee, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Niagara (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: