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[146]

While he had, by hard work, mastered the subject which he taught, he had but little capacity for imparting instruction, and showed so little tact and skill as a teacher that just before the breaking out of the war a committee of the alumni of the Virginia Military Institute, headed by Colonel John B. Strange, who was killed at Sharpsburg, waited on the board of visitors and ‘demanded the removal of Professor Jackson for utter incompetency.’ There were traditions that he greatly distinguished himself in the Mexican war, and stories were told of his walking back and forth on a road plowed by the enemy's artillery to inspire his men with courage; sitting all alone on one of his guns after his men had been driven off, because he had received no orders to leave, and of his standing to his guns on another occasion after his infantry support had fled, and driving off a greatly superior force of the enemy. But his brilliant career and rapid promotion in Mexico had been well nigh lost sight of, and when, in the early days of the war, his old neighbor and friend, Governor John Letcher, nominated him to the Virginia convention for a commission as colonel, a member arose and asked: ‘Who is this Major Jackson, anyhow?’ and it took all the eloquence of the Rockbridge delegates to secure his confirmation.

I remember that the soldiers at Harper's Ferry, when he was sent to command us, also asked, ‘Who is this Colonel Jackson?’ but that before he had been in command forty-eight hours we felt his strong hand, recognized the difference between him and certain militia officers who had previously had charge of the post, and realized that we were at least under the command of a real soldier and a rigid disciplinarian.

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