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[159] inferior to none as a fast and daring rider; indeed, he was never thrown from his horse, and seldom failed to win a race. Young Jackson became one of my scholars at the age of fourteen. In school he was a plain, untiring, matter-of-fact boy, who learned slowly, but never gave up an undertaking when once begun, and never forgot anything when once he had learned it. He was especially fond of mathematics. On the playground he was somewhat retiring, but took a lively interest in the pastimes of his play-fellows. Even as a boy he was known for his courage and resolute will, and, though rather slow to decide, when excited would make up his mind to a thing quickly and then do it, no matter what the odds arrayed against him. I recall an incident which illustrates this trait of his character. One morning on the way to school a big bully, much older than Jackson, behaved very badly toward some of the schoolgirls. Jackson, who was present, told the offender he must apologize or he would thrash him. The bully, feeling himself an overmatch for his antagonist, declined to do so, whereupon Jackson pluckily attacked him, and a long and bloody fight followed. Jackson in the end came off victorious and forced the bully, much against his will, to apologize for his behavior.

The military instinct in Jackson asserted itself early. While yet but a boy he became a close student of history and the laws of war, and used to delight, on long winter evenings, to discuss with me the qualities of the world's marshal heroes and the treaties made between warring nations. Familiar with ancient history, the lives of the great commanders pleased him most. Looking back now on those days I can easily see what nourished the spirit which inspired the dashing, rapid marches and wonderful success of Jackson's campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah. He had, too, a conviction of what his after life was to be, for often he would close one of his long talks of which I speak with the remark, “I have but one talent, and will never be anything but Tom Jackson unless the United States engage in war.” Early in 1842 the cadetship at West Point for this congressional district suddenly became vacant through the failure of the appointee to report for examination, and Jackson announced to me his resolve to seek the place. Knowing that he had no influential friends to urge his appointment, and that even if he secured it, he was poorly prepared to pass the preliminary examination, I at first discouraged him in his purpose, but finally seeing that his mind was fully made up, did all I could to advance his interests.


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