previous next

Disclosed by a preacher.

I remember that at Gordonsville, Rev. Dr. Ewing, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, with whom Jackson passed the night, told me as a Profound secret, not to be breathed, that we would move at early dawn the next morning on Culpeper, and intimated that he ‘had gotten his information from headquarters.’

We did not move at ‘early dawn’—the men used to say that ‘Old Stonewall’ always moved at ‘early dawn’ except when he started “the evening before” —but instead of moving on Culpeper, we moved on Louisa.

At Frederick's Hall Depot, General Jackson had his headquarters near the beautiful home of Mr. Nat Harris. Mrs. Harris sent to invite the general to take breakfast with her the next morning, and he replied: ‘If I can, I will be glad to do so.’ Being asked what hour would suit him, he said: ‘Let not [86] Mrs. Harris change her usual hour for me, but send for me when her breakfast is ready, and if I am here I will be glad to breakfast with her.’

When she sent the next morning to call him to breakfast, Jim, his servant, said: ‘Surely you did not spec to find de gineral here at dis hour. He left 'bout 12 o'clock last night, and I spec he is on his way to fight General Banks in the Valley again.’

He had really started, accompanied by a single staff officer, to ride 53 miles to Richmond, have an interview with General Lee, and receive instructions on his part in the proposed attack on McClellan. On this ride he rode up before day to the home of Mr. Matthew Hope, in the lower part of Louisa County, and arousing him from his bed, asked if he had two good saddle horses, saying that they were going to Richmond on very important business, and as their horses were exhausted, they wished to leave them in the place of his, and would send them back on their return.

Mr. Hope replied: ‘Yes, I have two good horses, I always keep good horses, but I am not green enough to let them go off with any straggling cavalrymen, who may represent themselves as being on important business.’

Jackson cut the colloquy short by saying in emphatic tone: ‘It is a case of necessity, sir, we must have the horses, and you had as well saddle them up at once.’ Mr. Hope indignantly replied: ‘I will not do it. I am not in the habit of saddling horses, I keep servants for that purpose, and I will certainly not saddle them for you. If you will take theme, you must saddle them yourselves.’

Thereupon Jackson and his staff officer saddled the horses and were soon galloping on their way. When several days later the horses were sent back, “with General Jackson's compliments,” Mr. Hope exclaimed: ‘Why did he not tell me that he was General Jackson, I would have let him have every horse on the place, and saddled them myself.’

But Jackson did not mean for anyone to recognize him on that ride, which was made so secretly that he had his interview with General Lee, and returned to his command before any of us suspected his absence.

It was reported that on this march Jackson met a Texas [87] soldier straggling from his command, and the following conversation ensued:

‘What command do you belong to, sir?’

‘I do not know.’

‘What State are you from’

‘I do not know, sir.’

‘What do you know, then, sir?’

‘Nothing at all, sir, at this time. Old Stonewall says that we must be know-nothing until the next battle, and I am not going to violate orders.’

On the campaign against Pope, General Ewell rode up one day to the house of a friend of mine and asked: ‘Doctor, can you tell me where we are going?’

“I should like to ask you that question, general, if it were a proper one,” was the reply.

‘Oh! it is perfectly proper to ask the question, but I would like to see you get the answer. General Jackson ordered me to be ready to move at “early dawn,” and my people, as you see, have been lying there in the road ever since, but I pledge you my word I do not know whether we are to march north, south, east or west, or whether we are going to march at all. And that is as much as I generally know about General Jackson's movements.’

In the second Manassas campaign, Jackson conducted his movements to Pope's flank and rear so secretly that just before he captured Manassas Junction, with its immense stores, Pope reported to Washington that Jackson was in ‘full retreat to the mountains.’

So at Chancellorsville he moved to Hooker's flank and rear so secretly that he struck Howard's corps entirely unprepared for his attack.

My accomplished friend, Rev. James Power Smith, D. D., the only surviving member of Jackson's staff, gave me an incident the other day, illustrating how he concealed his plans from even his staff.

After the return of Lee from the first Maryland campaign, Jackson and his corps were left for a time in the Valley, while the rest of the army crossed the mountains to Eastern Virginia.

After lingering around Winchester for a time, Jackson's whole [88] command was moved one day on Berryville, and it seemed very evident that they were about to ford the Shenandoah, and cross the mountains to join Lee.

Captain Smith went to his general and said: ‘As we are going to cross the mountains, general, I should like very much to ride back to Winchester to attend to some matters of importance to me personally, if you can give me a permit.’

“Certainly I will give you the permit.” was the reply, ‘and if we cross the mountains you will be able to overtake us tomorrow.’

Captain Smith rode into Winchester, and started early the next morning to overtake, as he supposed, the moving column. He had only ridden several miles when he met Jackson at the head of his corps moving back to Winchester, and was greeted by the salutation, ‘I suppose Mr. Smith that you are on your way to cross the mountains.’

It was then currently believed that Jackson would spend the winter in the Valley, with headquarters at Winchester, and a vacant house was selected for the general and his staff. After a day or two, Captain Smith and Colonel Pendleton, as a committee of the staff, waited on the general, and said: ‘As it is understood that we are to spend the winter here, we called to ask permission to get some necessary furniture.’

“That would add very much to our comfort, but I think we had better wait until to-morrow, and decide definitely on what we need,” was the reply. The next day Jackson started on his famous march to join Lee in time for the battle of First Fredericksburg.

Secrecy was a strong element in his character as a soldier.

Third. His stern discipline was another important element in Jackson's character as a soldier. He put General Garnett under arrest at Kernstown for ordering a retreat of his brigade when they were out of ammunition, and almost surrounded, saying, ‘He ought to have held his position with the bayonet.’

Garnett was still under arrest when Jackson died, when General Lee released him, and put him in command of one of Pickett's Brigades, the gallant gentleman being killed in the charge at Gettysburg, while leading his men.

On the Valley campaign I chanced to witness a scene in which [89] Jackson rode up to a gallant colonel, commanding a brigade, and said: ‘Colonel, the orders were for you to move in the rear of General to-day.’

The colonel replied in a rather rollicking tone: ‘Yes, I knew that General, but my fellows were ready to march, and General——was not, and I thought that it would make no difference which moved first, as we are not going to fight to-day. But if you prefer it, I can halt my brigade, and let General—— pass us.’ Jackson replied, almost fiercely: ‘How do you know that we are not going to fight to-day? Besides, colonel, I want you to distinctly understand that you must obey my orders first, and reason about them afterwards. Consider yourself under arrest, sir, and march in the rear of your brigade.’

In one of his battles, a brigadier rode up to him and asked: ‘General, did you order me to move my brigade across that plane, and charge that battery?’ ‘Yes, sir, I sent you that order,’ said Jackson, ‘Have you obeyed it?’

‘Why, no! General, the enemy's artillery will sweep that field, and my brigade would be literally annihilated if I move across it.’

Jackson replied, in tones not to be mistaken: ‘General, I always try to take care of my wounded and bury my dead. Obey that order, sir, and do it at once.’

It is needless to add that the order was obeyed, and the battery captured.

At one time he put every commander of a battery in A. P. Hill's Light Division under arrest for some slight disobedience of orders.

He put A. P. Hill under arrest several times, and there were charges and countercharges between these accomplished soldiers, until General Lee intervened to effect a compromise.

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 People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: