Table of Contents:
Major-General Francis H. Smith, its Superintendent, on "The Life and Character of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, late Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy" there. A perusal of it will well repay for the time spent, giving as it does many new facts in relation to the character of the great hero who has gone. It is an interesting fact that when the Board of Visitors of the institute was looking for a suitable person to fill the vacant chair to which Jackson was chosen, the faculty of West Point submitted to them the names of Gens. McClellan, Rosecrans, Reno, and Gustavus. W. Smith, besides that of Jackson. The lecture room of the great professor is still draped in mourning for his death. Of the punctuality of Gen. Jackson Gen. Smith says: ‘ Punctual to a minute, I have known him to walk in front of the superintendent's quarters, during a hard rain, because the hour had not quite arrived when it was his duty to present his weekly class reports. ’ The early studies of a great man are always of interest to those who have seen the culmination of his fame. The following extract gives a condensed, history of Gen. Jackson's career at West Point: ‘ He was at once brought into competition with young men of high cultivation, and although it is doubtful whether he had seen a French book in his life, or a mathematical book, except his arithmetic, he was assigned to the fourth class, and entered upon the study of algebra, geometry, and French. At the end of his first year, in a class of seventy-two, he stood 45 in mathematics, 70 in French, had 15 demerit, and was 51 in general merit. Such a standing would have discouraged an ordinary youth. Not so with young Jackson. He knew his early disadvantages. He was rather encouraged that he could sustain himself at all, and, stimulated by this hope and confidence, he pressed forward to the work of the next advanced class. Here the studies were more abstruse and more complicated; but when the examination came round he had risen to 18 in mathematics, 52 in French, was 68 in drawing and 55 in engineering studies, had 26 demerit, and was 30 in general merit. In the second class a new course of studies was presented to him. Having completed the pure mathematics. French and English, he had now to enter upon the study of chemistry and natural philosophy — and we see the upward and onward march of this resolute youth, in the result of the year, which placed him 11 in natural philosophy, 25 in chemistry, 59 in drawing — with no demeril for the year, and in general merit he was 20. In July, 1846, his class graduated. In the studies of the final year he was 12 in engineering, 5 in ethics, 11 in artillery, 21 in infantry tactics, 11 in mineralogy and geology, 7 demerit for the year, and his graduating standing, including the drawbacks of his previous years, was 17. When we examine the steady upward progress which characterized his academic life, from 51 in his first year to 30 in his second.--then 20, and finally 17 in general standing, we can understand the remark of one of his associates, when he said that had Jackson remained at West Point, upon a course of four years longer study, he would have reached the head of his class. And the lesson which his academic career presents is that what he lacked in early previous preparation, he made up by extra diligence and unceasing effort — while resolute determination to do his duty caused him to have but 48 demerit, with the strict discipline of West Point, in a course of four years. ’
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.