when, after entering the Institute grounds
, the cadets discharged their loaded guns in the air, must have sent a shudder of horror through many an anxious heart.
After returning to barracks the cadets were assembled in Major Preston
's section-room, which had the largest seating capacity in the building.
The object of this meeting was the pacification of the cadets and the prevention of further trouble.
To this end speeches were made by the superintendent and others, and then a long pause ensued.
Amongst the academic officers present was one who was conspicuous by the bolt-upright position in which he sat. His body did not touch the back of his chair, and his large hands rested motionless on his thighs.
Usually he kept his eyes to the front, but on this occasion he was closely scanning the faces and reading the thoughts of the young men before him. This person was no other than Major Thomas Jonathan Jackson
In church he always sat in the same posture, never touching the back of the pew nor turning his eyes from the preacher.
If during a dull sermon he ever fell asleep (and he had been seen to close his eyes at times) he always retained this position.
It is no wonder that he afterwards received—with the baptism of fire—the immortal name of ‘Stonewall
then seemed most eminent for Christian piety, a stern, unwavering sense of duty, a noble straightforwardness, and a beautiful simplicity of character.
In short, he exhibited that strong individuality which always accompanies genius, but which the world's stupidity characterizes only as eccentricity.
In this age he would have been called a crank.
His singularity was often ridiculed, and his peculiar ways were a subject of mimicry.
Although possessing such manly virtues, he was regarded by cadets and others as ‘a failure’ as a teacher.
He was wanting in tact in the class-room, although he afterwards displayed such brilliant tactics in the field.
In his classes he never asked leading questions.
If the student was not familiar with the subject, and requested a repetition of the question, with the hope of a change of words embodying a useful hint, he was sure to get it again in the identical words, and even with the same emphasis and peculiar intonation of voice.
By some this was considered indicative of lack of thoroughness in the subjects he professed to teach.
But the fact is, Jackson
had but one way of saying things, and that the best matured and most direct.
He was clumsy, and often unsatisfactory in his experiments.