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At five in the evening, on the 27th of June, 1862, General Stonewall Jackson made his appearance on the field of Cold Harbour. Fresh from the hot conflicts of the Valley — an athlete covered with the dust and smoke of the arena-he came now with his veteran battalions to enter upon the still more desperate conflicts of the lowland.

At that time many persons asked, “Who is Jackson?” All we then knew of the famous leader was this — that he was born a poor boy beyond the Alleghanies; managed to get to West Point; embarked in the Mexican war as lieutenant of artillery, where he fought his guns with such obstinacy that his name soon became renowned; and then, retiring from active service, became a Professor at the Lexington Military School. Here the world knew him only as an eccentric but deeply pious man, and a somewhat commonplace lecturer. Stiff and rigid in his pew at church, striding awkwardly from his study to his lectureroom, ever serious, thoughtful, absent-minded in appearancesuch was the figure of the future Lieutenant-General, the estimate of whose faculties by the gay young students may be imagined from their nickname for him, “Fool Tom Jackson.”

In April, 186 , Fool Tom Jackson became Colonel of Virginia volunteers, and went to Harper's Ferry, soon afterwards fighting General Patterson at Falling Water, thence descending to [35] Manassas. Here the small force-2,611 muskets — of Brigadier-General Jackson saved the day. Without them the Federal column would have flanked and routed Beauregard. Bee, forced back, shattered and overwhelmed, galloped up to Jackson and groaned out, “General, they are beating us back!” Jackson's set face did not move. “Sir,” he said, “we will give them the bayonet.” Without those 2,611 muskets that morning, good-by to Beauregard! In the next year came the Valley campaign; the desperate and most remarkable fight at Kernstown; the defeat and retreat of Banks from Strasburg and Winchester; the retreat, in turn, of his great opponent, timed with such mathematical accuracy, that at Strasburg he strikes with his right hand and his left the columns of Fremont and Shields, closing in from east and west to destroy him-strikes them and passes through, continuing his retreat up the Valley. Then comes the last scene -finis coronat. At Port Republic his adversaries strike at him in two columns. He throws himself against Fremont at Cross Keys and checks his advance; then attacks Shields beyond the river, and after one of the hottest battles of the war, fought nearly man to man, defeats him. Troops never fought better than the Federals there, but they were defeated; and Jackson, by forced marches, hastened to fall upon McClellan's right wing on the Chickahominy.

These events had, in June, 1862, attracted all eyes to Jackson. People began to associate his name with the idea of unvarying success, and to regard him as the incarnate genius of victory. War seemed in his person to have become a splendid pageant of unceasing triumph; and from the smoke of so many battle-fields rose before the imaginative public eye, the figure of a splendid soldier on his prancing steed, with his fluttering banner, preceded by bugles, and advancing in all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war. The actual man was somewhat different; and in this sketch I shall try to draw his outline as he really looked. In doing so, an apparent egotism will be necessary; but this may be pardoned as inseparable from the subject. What men see is more interesting than what they think, often; what the writer saw of this great man will here be recorded. [36]

It was late in the afternoon of this memorable day, and A. P. Hill had just been repulsed with heavy slaughter from General McClellan's admirable works near New Cold Harbour, when the writer of this was sent by General Stuart to ascertain if Jackson's corps had gone in, and what were his dispositions for battle. A group near a log cabin, twenty paces from Old Cold Harbour House, was pointed out to me; and going there, I asked for the General. Some one pointed to a figure seated on a log --dingy, bending over, and writing on his knees. A faded, yellow cap of the cadet pattern was drawn over his eyes; his fingers, holding a pencil, trembled. His voice, in addressing me, was brief, curt, but not uncourteous; and then, his dispatch having been sent, he mounted and rode slowly alone across the field. A more curious figure I never saw. He sat his rawboned sorrel --not the “old sorrel,” however-like an automaton. Knees drawn up, body leaning forward; the whole figure stiff, angular, unbending. His coat was the dingiest of the dingy; originally gray, it seemed to have brought away some of the dust and dirt of every region in which he had bivouacked. His faded cap was pulled down so low upon the forehead that he was compelled to raise his chin into the air to look from beneath the rim. Under that rim flashed two keen and piercing eyes-dark, with a strange brilliancy, and full of “fight.” The nose was prominent; the moustache heavy upon the firm lip, close set beneath; the rough, brown beard did not conceal the heavy fighting jaw. All but the eye was in apparent repose; there was no longer any tremor of anxiety. The soldier seemed to have made all his arrangements, “done his best,” and he evidently awaited the result with entire coolness. There was even something absent and abstracted in his manner, as he rode slowly to and fro, sucking a lemon, and looking keenly at you when you spoke, answering briefly when necessary.

Twice more I saw him that day-first in the evening, in the midst of a furious shelling, riding slowly with General Stuart among his guns; his face lit up by the burning brushwood — a face perfectly calm and unmoved. And again at midnight, when, as I slept in a fence corner, I felt a hand upon my shoulder, and a [37] voice said, “Where is the General?” It was Jackson, riding about by himself; and he tied his horse, lay down beside General Stuart, and began with, “Well, yesterday's was the most terrific fire of musketry I ever heard!” Words of unwonted animation coming from Jackson — that most matter-of-fact of speakers, and expressing much.

From this time, Jackson became the idol of his troops and the country. Wherever he moved among the camps he was met by cheers; and so unvarying was this reception of him, that a distant yell would often draw from his men the exclamation, “That's Jackson or a rabbit!” the sight of the soldier or the appearance of a hare being alone adequate to arouse this tremendous excitement. From the day of Cold Harbour, success continued to crown him-at Cedar Mountain, the second Manassas, Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg, where he met the full weight of McClellan's right wing under Hooker, and repulsed it, and Chancellorsville. When he died, struck down by the hands of his own men, he was the most famous and the most beloved of Southern commanders.


His popularity was great in degree, but more singular in character. No general was ever so beloved by the good and pious of the land. Old ladies received him wherever he went with a species of enthusiasm, and I think he preferred their society and that of clergymen to any other. In such society his kindly nature seemed to expand, and his countenance was charming. He would talk for hours upon religious subjects, never weary, it seemed, of such discourse, and at such moments his smile had the sweetness and simplicity of childhood. The hard intellect was resting, and the heart of the soldier spoke in this congenial converse upon themes more dear to him than all others. I have seen him look serene and perfectly happy, conversing with a venerable lady [38] upon their relative religious experiences. Children were also great favourites with him, and he seldom failed to make them love him. When at his headquarters below Fredericksburg, in 1863, he received a splendid new cap, gorgeous with a broad band of dazzling gold braid, which was greatly admired by a child one day in his quarters. Thereupon Jackson drew her between his knees, ripped off the braid, and binding it around her curls, sent her away delighted. With maidens of more advanced age, however, the somewhat shy General was less at his ease. At “Hayfield,” near the same headquarters, and about the same time, the hospitable family were one day visited by Generals Lee, Jackson, and Stuart, when a little damsel of fourteen confided to her friend General Lee her strong desire to kiss General Jackson. General Lee, always fond of pleasantry, at once informed Jackson of the young lady's desire, and the great soldier's face was covered with blushes and confusion. An amusing picture, too, is drawn of the General when he fell into the hands of the ladies of Martinsburg, and they cut off almost every button of his coat as souvenirs. The beleaguered hero would have preferred storming a line of intrenchments.

Jackson had little humour. He was not sour or gloomy, nor did he look grimly upon “fun” as something which a good Presbyterian should avoid. He was perfectly cheerful, liberal and rational in this as in everything; but he had no ear for humour, as some persons have none for music. A joke was a mysterious affair to him. Only when so very “broad” and staring, that he who ran might read it, did humour of any sort strike Jackson. Even his thick coating of matter-of-fact was occasionally pierced, however. At Port Republic a soldier said to his companion: “I wish these Yankees were in hell,” whereupon the other replied: “I don't; for if they were, old Jack would be within half a mile of them, with the Stonewall Brigade in front!” When this was told to Jackson, he is said to have burst out into hearty laughter, most unusual of sounds upon the lips of the serious soldier. But such enjoyment of fun was rare with him. I was never more struck with this than one day at Fredericksburg, at General Stuart's headquarters. There was an indifferent brochure published in those days, styled “Abram, [39] a Poem,” in the comic preface to which, Jackson was presented in a most ludicrous light, seated on a stump at Oxhill and gnawing at a roasting ear, while a whole North Carolina brigade behind him in line of battle was doing likewise. General Stuart read it with bursts of laughter to his friend, and Jackson also laughed with perfect good-humour; but no sooner had the book been closed than he seemed to forget its existence, and said with an irresistibly matter-of-fact expression which made this writer retire to indulge his own laughter: “By the by, in going to Culpeper, where did you cross the Rapidan?” His manner was unmistakable. It said: “My dear Stuart, all that is no doubt very amusing to you, and I laugh because you do; but it don't interest me.” On one occasion only, to the knowledge of the present writer, did Jackson betray something like dry humour. It was at Harper's Ferry, in September, 1862, just after the surrender of that place, and when General Lee was falling back upon Sharpsburg. Jackson was standing on the bridge over the Potomac when a courier, out of breath, and seriously “demoralized,” galloped up to him, and announced that McClellan was within an hour's march of the place with an enormous army. Jackson was conversing with a Federal officer at the moment, and did not seem to hear the courier, who repeated his message with every mark of agitation. Thereupon Jackson turned round and said: “Has he any cattle with him?” The reply was that there were thousands. “Well,” said Jackson, with his dry smile, “you can go. My men can whip any army that comes well provisioned.” Of wit, properly speaking, he had little. But at times his brief, wise, matter-of-fact sentences became epigrammatic. Dr. Hunter McGuire, his medical director, once gave him some whiskey when he was wet and fatigued. Jackson made a wry face in swallowing it, and Dr. McGuire asked if it was not good whiskey. “Oh, yes,” replied Jackson, “I like liquor, the taste and effect-that's why I don't drink it.


I have endeavoured to draw an outline of Jackson on horseback --the stiff, gaunt figure, dingy costume, piercing eyes; the large, [40] firm, iron mouth, and the strong fighting-jaw. A few more words upon these personal peculiarities. The soldier's face was one of decided character, but not eminently striking. One circumstance always puzzled me-Jackson's lofty forehead seemed to indicate unmistakably a strong predominance of the imagination and fancy, and a very slight tendency or aptitude for mathematics. It was the forehead of a poet!-the statement is almost a jest. Jackson the stern, intensely matter-of-fact mathematician, a man of fancy! Never did forehead so contradict phrenology before. A man more guiltless of “poetry” in thought or deed, I suppose never lived. His poetry was the cannon's flash, the rattle of musketry, and the lurid cloud of battle. Then, it is true, his language, ordinarily so curt and cold, grew eloquent, almost tragic and heroic at times, from the deep feeling of the man. At Malvern Hill, General -- received an order from Jackson to advance and attack the Federal forces in their fortified position, for which purpose he must move across an open field swept by their artillery. General — was always “impracticable,” though thoroughly brave, and galloping up to Jackson said, almost rudely, “Did you send me an order to advance over that field?” “I did, sir,” was the cold reply of Jackson, in whose eyes began to glow the light of a coming storm. “Impossible, sir!” exclaimed General --in a tone almost of insubordination, “my men will be annihilated!-annihilated, I tell you, sir!” Jackson raised his finger, and in his cold voice there was an accent of menace which cooled his opponent like a hand of ice.

“General — ,” he said, “I always endeavour to take care of my wounded and to bury my dead. Obey that order, sir!”

The officer who was present at this scene and related it to me, declares that he never saw a deeper suppression of concentrated anger than that which shone in Jackson's eye, or heard a human voice more menacing.

There were other times when Jackson, stung and aroused, was driven from his propriety, or, at least, out of his coolness. The winter of 1861-2 was such an occasion. He had made his expedition to Morgan county, and, in spite of great suffering among the troops, had forced the Federal garrisons at Bath and [41] Romney to retire, and accomplished all his ends. General Loring was then left at Romney, and Jackson returned to Winchester. All that is well known. What follows is not known to many. General Loring conceived an intense enmity for Jackson, and made such representations at Richmond, that an order was sent to Loring direct, not through Jackson, commanding in the Valley, recalling him. Jackson at once sent in his resignation. The scene which took place between him and his friend Colonel Boteler, thereupon, was a stormy one. The Colonel in vain tried to persuade him that he ought to recall his resignation. “No, sir,” exclaimed Jackson, striding fiercely up and down, “I will not hold a command upon terms of that sort. I will not have those people at Richmond interfering in my plans, and sending orders to an officer under me, without even informing me. No soldier can endure it. I care not for myself. If I know myself I do not act from anger-but if I yield now they will treat better men in the same way! I am nobody-but the protest must be made here, or Lee and Johnston will be meddled with as I am.” It was only after the resignation had been withdrawn by the Governor of Virginia without his authority, and explanations, apologies, protestations, came from the head of the War Office, that the design was given up. Such is a little morceau of private history, showing how Jackson came near not commanding in the Valley in 1862.

With the exception of these rare occasions when his great passions were aroused, Jackson was an apparently commonplace person, and his bearing neither striking, graceful, nor impressive. He rode ungracefully, walked with an awkward stride, and wanted ease of manner. He never lost a certain shyness in company; and I remember his air of boyish constraint, one day, when, in leaving an apartment full of friends, he hesitated whether to shake hands with every one or not. Catching the eye of the present writer, who designed remaining, he hastily extended his hand, shook hands, and quickly retired, apparently relieved. His bearing thus wanted ease; but, personally, he made a most agreeable impression by his delightfully natural courtesy. His smile was as sweet as a child's, and evidently sprang from his goodness of heart. A lady said it was “angelic.” His voice [42] in ordinary conversation was subdued, and pleasant from its friendly and courteous tone, though injured by the acquired habit — a West Pointism — of cutting off, so to speak, each word, and leaving each to take care of itself. This was always observable in his manner of talking; but briefest of the brief, curtest of the curt, was General Stonewall Jackson on the field of battle and “at work.” His words were then let fall as though under protest; all superfluities were discarded; and the monosyllables jerked from his lips seemed clipped off, one by one, and launched to go upon separate ways. The eccentricities of the individual were undoubtedly a strong element of his popularity; the dress, habits, bearing of the man, all made his soldiers adore him. General Lee's air of collected dignity, mingled with a certain grave and serious pride, aroused rather admiration than affectionthough during the last years of the war, the troops came to love as much as they admired him: to arrive at which point they had only to know the great warm heart which beat under that calm exterior, making its possessor “one altogether lovely.” Jackson's appearance and manners, on the contrary, were such as conciliate a familiar, humorous liking. His dingy old coat, than which scarce a private's in his command was more faded; his dilapidated and discolored cap; the absence of deorations and all show in his dress; his odd ways; his kindly, simple manner; his habit of sitting down and eating with his men; his indifference whether his bed were in a comfortable headquarter tent, on a camp couch, or in a fence corner with no shelter from the rain but his cloak; his abstemiousness, fairness, honesty, simplicity; his never-failing regard for the comfort and the feelings of the private soldier; his oddities, eccentricities, and originalities-all were an unfailing provocative to liking, and endeared him to his men. Troops are charmed when there is anything in the personal character of a great leader to “make fun of” --admiration of his genius then becomes enthusiasm for his person. Jackson had aroused this enthusiasm in his men-and it was a weapon with which he struck hard.

One of the most curious peculiarities of Jackson was the strange fashion he had of raising his right hand aloft and then [43] letting it fall suddenly to his side. It is impossible, perhaps, to determine the meaning of this singular gesture. It is said that he had some physical ailment which he thus relieved; others believed that at such moments he was praying. Either may be the fact. Certain it is that he often held his hand, sometimes both hands, thus aloft in battle, and that his lips were then seen to move, evidently in prayer. Not once, but many times, has the singular spectacle been presented of a Lieutenant-General commanding, sitting on his horse silently as his column moved before him-his hands raised to heaven, his eyes closed, his lips moving in prayer. At Chancellorsville, as he recognised the corpses of any of his old veterans, he would check his horse, raise his hands to heaven, and utter a prayer over the dead body.

There were those who said that all this indicated a partial species of insanity — that Jackson's mind was not sound. Other stories are told of him which aim to show that his eccentricities amounted to craziness. Upon this point the philosophers and physiologists must decide. The present writer can only say that Jackson appeared to him to be an eminently rational, judicious, and sensible person in conversation; and the world must determine whether there was any “craze,” any flaw or crack, or error, in the terribly logical processes of his brain as a fighter of armies. The old incredulity of Frederick will obtrude itself upon the mind. If Jackson was crazy, it it a pity he did not bite somebody, and inoculate them with a small amount of his insanity as a soldier. Unquestionably the most striking trait of Jackson as a leader was his unerring judgment and accuracy of calculation. The present writer believes himself to be familiar with every detail of his career, and does not recall one blunder. Kernstown was fought upon information furnished by General Ashby, a most accomplished and reliable partisan, which turned out to be inaccurate; but even in defeat Jackson there accomplished the very important object of retaining a large Federal force in the Valley, which McClellan needed on the Chickahominy. For instances of the boldness, fertility, and originality of his conceptions, take the campaigns against General Pope, the surprise of Harper's Ferry, the great flank attack at Chancellorsville, and [44] the marvellous success of every step taken in the campaign of the Valley. This is not the occasion for an analysis of these campaigns; but it may be safely declared that they are magnificent illustrations of the mathematics of war; that the brain which conceived and executed designs so bold and splendid, must have possessed a sanity for all practical purposes difficult to dispute.


Jackson's religious opinions are unknown to the present writer. He has been called a “fatalist.” All sensible men are fatalists in one sense, in possessing a strong conviction that “what will be, will be.” But men of deep piety like Jackson, are not Oriental in their views. Fate was a mere word with Jackson, with no meaning; his “star” was Providence. Love for and trust in that Providence dwelt and beat in every vein and pulse of his nature. His whole soul was absorbed in his religion — as much as a merchant's is in his business, or a statesman's in public affairs. He believed that life “meant intensely, and meant good.” To find its meaning was “his meat and drink.” His religion was his life, and the real world a mere phantasmagoria. He seemed to have died rejoicing, preferring death to life. Strange madness! This religious dreamer was the stern, practical, mathematical calculator of chances; the obstinate, unyielding fighter; the most prosaic of realists in all the commonplaces of the dreadfully commonplace trade of war.

The world knocks down many people with that cry of “eccentric,” by which is really meant “insane.” Any divergence from the conventional is an evidence of mental unsoundness. Jackson was seen, once in Lexington, walking up and down in a heavy rain before the superintendent's quarters, waiting for the clock to strike ten before he delivered his report. He wore woollen clothes throughout the summer. He would never mail a letter which to reach its destination must travel on Sunday. All these things made him laughed at; and yet the good sense seems all on his side, the folly on that of the laughers. The Institute [45] was a military school; military obedience was the great important lesson to the student-rigid, unquestioning obedience. Jackson set them the example. He was ordered to hand in his report at ten, and did not feel himself at liberty to present it before ten, in consequence of the rain. He was ordered to don a woollen uniform in the winter, and having received no order prescribing or permitting another, continued to wear it. He considered it wrong to travel or carry mails on Sunday, and would not take part in the commission of wrong. This appears logical, however eccentric.

In truth, the great soldier was an altogether earnest man, with little genius for the trivial pursuits of life, or its more trivial processes of thought and opinion. His temper was matter-offact, his logic straightforward; “nonsense” could not live in his presence. The lighter graces were denied him, but not the abiding charm. He had no eye for the “flower of the peas,” no palate for the bubble on the champagne of life; but he was true, kind, brave, and simple. Life with him was a hard, earnest struggle; duty seems to have been his watchword. It is hard to find in his character any actual blot-he was so true and honest.

Jackson has probably excited more admiration in Europe than any other personage in the late revolution. His opponents even are said to have acknowledged the purity of his motives — to have recognised the greatness of his character and the splendor of his achievements. This sentiment springs naturally from a review of his life. It is no part of my design to present a critical analysis of his military movements. This must sooner or later be done; but at present the atmosphere is not clear of the battle-smoke, and figures are seen indistinctly. The time will come when the campaigns of Jackson will become the study of military men in the Old World and the New — the masterly advances and retreats of the Valley; the descent against McClellan; the expedition to Pope's rear, which terminated in the second battle of Manassas; and the great flank movement at Chancellorsville, which has made the tangled brakes of the Spotsylvania wilderness famous for ever.

Under the grave exterior, the reserved demeanour, the old [46] faded costume of the famous soldier, the penetrating student of human nature will discern “one of the immortals.” In the man who holds aloft his hand in prayer while his veteran battalions move by steadily to the charge, it will not be difficult to fancy a reproduction of the stubborn Cromwell, sternest of Ironsides, going forth to conquer in the name of the Lord. In the man who led his broken lines back to the conflict, and charged in front of them on many fields, there was all the dash and impetus of Rupert. The inscrutable decree of Providence struck down this great soldier in the prime of life and the bloom of his faculties. His career extended over but two years, and he lives only in memory. But history cannot avoid her landmarks; the great proportions of Stonewall Jackson will sooner or later be delineated.

The writer of these lines can only say how great this man appeared to him, and wait with patience for the picture which shall “denote him truly.”

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