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[523]

Reminiscences of Jackson's Valley campaign.

By General T. T. Munford, of the Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
[Our readers will thank us for the following interesting sketch of men and events of the brilliant campaign which probably contributed more to establishing Jackson's fame than any other part of his splendid career. We are very anxious to secure similar sketches from many others of our gallant soldiers, who were in position to know the inside history of the campaigns in which they were active participants.]

In writing these few reminiscences of Jackson's campaign of 1862 in the Valley, my object has been to develop some of the striking characteristics of the officers with whom I served. I wish to do justice to General Trimble, of Maryland--a gallant soldier of the old army in the olden times. It has been my aim to show some of Jackson's strategy in executing General Lee's plans, and his extreme reticence in keeping from his highest officers what he intended to do; where he was going; when he would move, and what he aimed to accomplish. I have a most kind remembrance and affection for General Ewell, Jackson's senior lieutenant, commanding his right wing, and wish to recall some of his oddities. He possessed more eccentricities than he thought Jackson displayed. He was a hard old customer, and could swear, when he chose to exercise that faculty, in a style that defies description. He spared no one when he was cross, but was nobly generous at all other times. My relations with him were always of the kindest character, as several letters from him to me would show. Long before the war ended he was a bright Christian soldier of the cross, with a joyous hope of meeting Jackson at the “grand reveille.”

I desire to say a word or two for Ashby, who was often blamed for what he could not prevent, and often expected to perform impossibilities and to overcome obstacles which were insurmountable. I believe Ashby was more than a partisan leader, and was a peer of the best of the officers in his sphere of service. We must take into consideration the material he had to handle. The blunders that were made by the cavalry arose from a want of concert between the cavalry commanders, and a want of thorough discipline, and this latter in a great measure was caused by the fact that you could not exact of men rigid compliance with orders when they were rarely supplied with what they were entitled to receive. Another cause, not often considered or reflected upon, was that the cavalry furnished at first their own horses, and were required subsequently [524] to furnish their own horses at their own expense. When a man was required to go or to come, his horse had to go or to come, too. When a machine is not greased or is improperly used, it will first creak and then refuse to move. When a horse is not fed, and given no time to rest, and forced in the charge, or on a raid, and forced in the retreat, he cannot perform his duty, and the man upon his back has to bear the censure. A spavined or jammed horse, or when wounded, cannot carry a sound or an impetuous man. A dead horse cannot be replaced without money, which the man could not procure and the Government failed to supply. The man felt that at any moment he was liable to lose his horse. Not the Government's horse, which would be replaced, but his own horse, when he had no chance of getting another and no hope of being remunerated for his loss. You order a cavalryman to be drilled: his horse is not fit for duty; he cannot do it; he appears to be skulking. You order him to go into battle: his regiment is ordered off at a trot, a gallop; it is impossible for him to go. The more gallant he is, the worse he naturally feels. It is simply impossible for him to go. (His only chance is to scout and capture a picket or a straggler). How is he to get away?--“run the gauntlet,” or he is forced into another arm of the service against his will. His comrades know his worth and deplore his lot — they know they may be at any moment in the same condition. The man cannot and the other men will not perform their duty under such circumstances — and for reasons like these, a whole arm of the service is weakened and demoralized, and the handful who could keep mounted had to do all the duty. General Ashby labored under all of these disadvantages in every company in his command, every day he had to move. Look at the map and see the country from which most of his men came; his picket-line ran from the Warm Springs, in Bath county, down the whole Valley and along the Potomac to Harper's Ferry, and around to near Leesburg in Loudon county. To accomplish what he did was wonderful! to expect more could not be realized. These things, and the censure that they produced, was the cause of the alienation that for a time existed between Jackson and Ashby. Others had to handle the same force after Ashby's death, but it took time to accomplish what never was given Ashby — as he could never get his men together under Jackson mounted.

Late one night, not long since, having concluded reading General Dick Taylor's narrative, entitled Destruction and reconstruction, [525] I laid the book aside and for hours revolved in my mind the eventful scenes, so graphically described in his allusion to Ewell's division, in Jackson's Valley campaign of 1862. “Ewell's division?” Where are the general officers who left Swift Run gap on that memorable march? Where are the officers who commanded Taylor's brigade? The Lynchburg Virginian announced a short time since that General I. R. Trimble and General Nicholls, now Governor of Louisiana, were near by here, in Botetourt county, Virginia. Ewell, Taylor, Semmes, Peck, Stafford, Hays, Wheat--“all passed beyond the river.” Trimble, with one leg, and Nicholls, with one eye, one leg and one arm, were there to recruit their shattered frames in the mountains of Virginia. Feeling it a duty to “render honor to whom honor is due,” I shall begin my sketch by referring to Generals Jackson, Ewell and Trimble. Of the first two, General Taylor has said much. His trenchant pen spares neither friend nor foe. His admiration for them is endorsed by all who knew and served with them. Their peculiarities and idiot syncrasies were generally known. I propose to tell what Ewell thought of Jackson and said to me, and what he thought of Trimble. I have made above an explanation in defence of Ashby, believing it will make clear some of the difficulties he had to contend with, and put the kindly words of Taylor's narrative, and of General Jackson himself, in their proper light. I shall speak of Ashby again. Having served with them all, knowing them all personally, I do not hesitate to say I loved them all. They were my friends. I know there was at one time a bitter feeling between Jackson and Ashby — it was reconciled. I do not think that even General Jackson fully appreciated Ashby's troubles, because he complained of his disorganized command, and no order for the organization of his command was ever given until after Ashby was killed. I have in my possession at this time from General Jackson himself a note, asking for recommendations for field officers to command the twenty-six companies of Ashby's command, to whom one Major was attached — afterwards Colonel Funsten. General Beverly Robertson, of the old army, was assigned to General Jackson by the Department at Richmond while his cavalry command was at Harrisonburg, immediately before Jackson left the Valley-General Taylor thought General Jackson, the “lemon squeezer,” was “crazy.” General Ewell at one time thought him “a crazy wagon hunter,” and “an old fool.” All of us knew that General Ewellhad a curious way” of doing things, and a very free way of expressing [526] himself. For example, General Trimble sent to him for some mounted men as couriers while we were at Swift Run gap. At that time General Trimble was a mile in rear of our camp. I happened to meet him immediately after he received the application, and he said: “Look here! send that old man Trimble a mounted man or two. Nobody is going to hurt him way behind me, yet he wants some cavalry to keep him posted; and he has a fellow named Kirkland over on the mountain, on picket, who wants horsemen. I expect if a fellow in the woods would say boo, the whole crew would get away.” This sounded very “queer” to me. I had sent a scout over the river, and that evening a deserter from the Federal army was brought in, who informed me that General Shields, commanding about eight thousand troops, was preparing to move to Fauquier county, Virginia, to join General McDowell, who was there with thirty thousand troops. He was an intelligent young man, who “guessed he had seen enough of war and wanted to get out of the army.” I took him to General Ewell's quarters, who gave him a searching examination. The next morning two more prisoners were brought in, who confirmed the report of the deserter, as they had three days cooked rations. Ewell was crazy to attack Shields, and though awaiting orders from General Jackson, wrote to ask permission to be allowed to attack him. He did not know exactly where Jackson was, or what he was after, and was in a blaze. He ordered me to cook rations and be prepared to move with my regiment, to take a part of the Sixth Virginia cavalry and two guns of Brockenbrough's battery, and to impede Shields' movement in every possible way I could, by barricades, destroying bridges, worrying his train, and feints, and to keep him posted. I was to start at 12 at night, but to report to him before leaving. When I went to his quarters I found him in bed. He asked me to hand him a map, and with a miserable lard lamp he attempted to show me where General Jackson was. Before I knew what he was after, he sprung out of bed, with only a night-shirt on — no carpet on the floor — and spreading the map open on the floor, down on his knees he went; his bones farely rattled; his bald head and long beard made him look more like a witch than a Major-General. He became much excited, pointed out Jackson's position, General Shields', and General McDowell's, who was then at Warrenton, to act as McClellan's right wing. Then, with an ugly oath, he said: “This great wagon hunter is after a Dutchman, an old fool! General Lee at Richmond will [527] have little use for wagons if all of these people close in around him; we are left out here in the cold. Why, I could crush Shields before night if I could move from here. This man Jackson is certainly a crazy fool, an idiot. Now look at this,” handing me a small piece of paper upon which was about these words:

headquarters Valley District, May, 1862.
General R. S. Ewell:
Your dispatch received. Hold your position — don't move. I have driven General Milroy from McDowell; through God's assistance, have captured most of his wagon train. Colonel S. B. Gibbons, Tenth Virginia, killed. Forward to Department at Richmond the intelligence.

Respectfully,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

Ewell jumped to his feet, ran all over the room, and said: “What has Providence to do with Milroy's wagon train? Mark my words, if this old fool keeps this thing up, and Shields joins McDowell, we will go up at Richmond! I'll stay here, but you go and do all you can to keep these people from getting together, and keep me posted — follow Shields as long as it is safe, and send me a courier to let me know the hour you get off.” (At that time Ewell had no idea what Jackson's plans were.) A courier from the Second regiment, looking for me, went to his quarters, and allowed his sabre to jingle and strike the steps as he ascended the stairs. Rapping at his door, he asked for me. General Ewell told him to come in and light the lamp. Turning to him he said: “Look under the bed--do you see him there? Do you know how many steps you came up?” “No, sir,” said the courier. “Well I do, by every lick you gave them with that thing you have hanging about your feet, which should be hooked up when you come to my quarters. Do you know how many ears you have? You will go out of here less one, and maybe both, if you ever wake me up this time anight looking for your Colonel.” The courier came to me, related what had occurred, and begged I would never send him to General Ewell again.

I followed Shields for three days. Have in my possession kindly words from General Ewell for services rendered, and en route to join him had an order to go to Richmond and endeavor to get arms for my men.

I joined the army at Winchester the night after they arrived after the battle, but continued with them to Martinsburg and Falling [528] Waters, back to Charlestown and Harper's Ferry. 'Twas here General Jackson left us, having heard of the Federals reoccupying Front Royal; and then came our trials. As soon as the enemy found that Jackson had started back up the Valley, their cavalry became very enterprising and bold, and hung closely to our rear, annoying us by day and night. Jackson, thewagon hunter,” never gave up one after it came into his possession. If a tire came off a wagon, he would stop the whole train and wait for it to be fixed on, and let the “rear guard” hold its position. A man who never served in the cavalry under Jackson knows little of what was required of them. We skirmished all day and half the night, retiring en echelon. There was one eternal picking at each other. The artillery would seize a position and hold it as long as they could, then fall back to another, covered by the cavalry. I do not believe the world has ever produced a grander, braver, nobler band of patriotic soldiers than the artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia. On this retreat General George H. Steuart had command of the Second Virginia and the Sixth Virginia cavalry. Colonel Turner Ashby, just promoted, had his twenty-six companies of cavalry, but there was no concert between Ashby and Steuart.

General G. H. Steuart, a good infantry officer, was relieved from the cavalry regiments by urgent request, and they ordered to Ashby, after which time there were no more of the many blunders previously committed. Ashby had been a full colonel but a short time. The companies composing his command were generally recruited from the border counties all along the northern and western lines. They had never been in a camp of instruction. Many of them could not perform the simplest evolutions in company drill. Provided with just such arms as they could pick up, with no organization, it was simply impossible for him to do anything with them but to lead them. He complained bitterly in conversations with me, and said he had no help and no opportunity. A company was recruited in one of the border counties, and there it. stayed after the Valley was left by Jackson.

I had the honor to serve with all of our best officers of the cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia. I have the highest admiration and affection for most of them, and would not detract from the glory that any of them have, but venture this tribute to Ashby, because I believe he was the peer of any and deserves equal praise. He was as brave and as modest about it as Hampton, with all the dash and fire of Fitz. Lee or Stuart. Neither of them had a [529] better eye for defence. They could not swoop down quicker when a flank was exposed or an opportunity given than he. They had better advantages in camp and by education, but he was a natural soldier, and had his life been spared, would have equaled Forrest in his boldest moves.

General Ewell formed the highest admiration for Ashby, and told me the day Ashby was killed, that such a man, with a good disciplined mounted regiment, and an infantry regiment attached to it, who could swing by a strap to each horse's neck, when sharp, quick and devilish “work was wanted, would be equal to the best division in the army, and said he would rather have it.” Then he said: “A man could do something without being cramped as I am, and never know what is to be done,” and added: “I am thinking of asking the Department for such a command, or the privilege of raising such.” In this conversation with me he was still very uneasy about Richmond, and intimated that Jackson would have his hands full before he got out of the Valley.

Ewell was deeply moved when Ashby fell, and remained on the field with me until all the prisoners and wounded men were taken back; assisted many of the wounded to mount behind the cavalry, who carried them from the field, and I saw him give what money he had to some of the Maryland troops who were too badly wounded to be carried from the field on horseback. The enemy were too near for ambulances to approach. The woods where the affair occurred was filled with outcropping lime-stone rocks, and there was no regular road. This fight has never been described fairly. I may attempt it hereafter, as I was second in command and saw from an unbiased stand-point what was done by Ashby I was to co-operate with him, and but for that ambuscade he fell in, he would have realized his well laid plan of success. Two hours before he was killed, he had won one of the most brilliant fights of that campaign — capturing “Sir Percy Windham,” commanding the attacking brigade. His loss was deplored by our whole army.

The night after the battle of Cross Keys, I was at General Jackson's headquarters with Ewell, and heard the orders given for the next morning's work. My orders were to send and ascertain whether the road to Brown's gap was open, and to see if a bridge could be thrown across the South fork of the river. The Quartermaster ran a half-dozen wagons in the water, upon which some very long and thin plank were placed, so that, with their cadence [530] step, the men were in a swing. This really impeded the march, and caused our troops to go into the fight in detail, instead of in compact body.

The next day was a rough one for our army. Shields had secured a splendid position, well described by General Taylor. There was no field for the cavalry to operate in. When the enemy retired, it was through a piney country, with a single wagon road. We could only follow in a column of “twos.” We followed them to near Conrad's store, securing many stragglers, wagons and several pieces of artillery. That night I returned to Ewell's quarters and took supper with him. Sitting in front of his tent, he turned to me, in his nervous way, and said: “Look here, Munford, do you remember a conversation we had one day at Conrad's store?” I laughed and asked, “To what do you allude?” “Why, to old Trimble, to General Jackson and that other fellow, Colonel Kirkland, of North Carolina?” I replied, “Very well.” “I take it all back, and will never prejudge another man. Old Jackson is no fool; he knows how to keep his own counsel, and does curious things: but he has method in his madness; he has disappointed me entirely. And old Trimble is a real trump; instead of being over cautious, he is as bold as any man, and, in fact, is the hero of yesterday's fight. Jackson was not on the field. They will call it mine, but Trimble won the fight; and I believe now if I had followed his views we would have destroyed Fremont's army. And Colonel Kirkland, of North Carolina, behaved as handsomely near Winchester as any man in our army, leading his regiment, and taking a stone wall from the Yankees; he is a splendid fellow.”

That night I addressed a letter to General Jackson, telling him of the difficulties which surrounded me, and of what Ashby had said to me of his troubles from the want of organization in his command, in response to which I have the following communication:

near Mount Meridian, June 12th, 1862.
Colonel T. T. Munford, Commanding Cavalry, Valley District:
Colonel — I congratulate you upon your early reoccupation of Harrisonburg. I have directed the Inspector-General to organize the cavalry now under Major Funsten, and hope it will soon be of service to you. You had better order forward Chew's battery and your train in time to pass Mount Crawford before 12 o'clock M. to-morrow. In the morning I trust that I will make a timely move for the Valley pike, and expect to encamp this side of Mount Crawford.

Very truly, yours,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

[531]

This was the first time his infantry had had a day's rest since the campaign opened, but there was no rest for the cavalry. We pushed on to Harrisonburg, and followed the enemy towards New Market, capturing many stragglers, wagons, horses and plunder, abandoned by the enemy. The following dispatches from General Jackson will explain themselves. Major Dabney and Major John E. Cooke have commented upon what happened. These papers will show that the cavalry did efficient service, and had the confidence of General Jackson. How, I may explain in another letter. When General Jackson left the Valley for Richmond, he did my regiment the honor to require it to follow him, and we served with him until he was killed. I have spun out a much longer letter than I contemplated when I took up my pen.

The Confederate cavalry have not one word to say against their brothers-in-arms of the artillery or infantry; but, although many a cavalry flag fluttered in the breeze defiantly after all others were furled and had sunk to rest forever, their sympathy and attachment for the other arms of the service has never abated. We know our men did their duty as well as they could, and we can stand the taunts of men who know not what they say.

Thomas T. Munford, Late Brigadier-General Cavalry, Fitz. Lee's Division, A. N. V.

The following, from original autograph letters, which have never been published, illustrate the above sketch, and will prove of general interest:

headquarters Valley District, June 10, 1862.
Colonel Munford, Commanding Cavalry:
Colonel--Major-General Jackson directs that you will organize so many of the dismounted men of your command as may be necessary to guard four hundred prisoners (400), under a discreet and diligent officer, to conduct all of the prisoners captured in the battles of June 8th and 9th, on foot towards their place of destination. You will instruct the commander of this detachment not to move the prisoners until those still in the rear are brought up and a complete list is made out for these headquarters, containing the name, rank, company and regiment of all the prisoners. You will further instruct this commander that the destination of these prisoners is to be Salisbury, North Carolina, to be reached by Lynchburg and Danville. You will also instruct him that as soon as he reaches Mechum's River depot, he shall telegraph General [532] John H. Winder, Richmond, Virginia, stating the number of these prisoners and the route he will travel, and asking General Winder to provide the necessary rations and a guard to relieve your men and take the prisoners to Salisbury. Your detachment, as soon as relieved, will then return and report to you for duty. This telegram to General Winder should be repeated again and again till it is answered; but, meantime, the detachment of prisoners should be kept moving as fast as possible until General Winder sends to take charge of them. The commander of the detachment is hereby empowered to purchase rations, if necessary, for the prisoners and guard on Government account. But you will instruct him to call at once on Captain Cuntz, Issuing Commissary for this division, for so much as is immediately necessary. The commanding officer should also be instructed to use all care to prevent escape of prisoners, and to this end should see that his guard was adequately supplied with fire-arms and ammunition before it sets out.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. L. Dabney, Assistant Adjutant-General.

near Mount Meridian, June 13th, 1862.
Colonel — Yours of this date has been received. I have given the Chief Commissary of Subsistence orders to supply the hospital near Harrisonburg with subsistence. Do not permit any letter to be sent by flag of truce, unless it is first read by yourself. Please turn over the guns to the agent. Major Harman may send for the wagons and ambulances. I am gratified to see you had anticipated me respecting the wounded.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

near Mount Meridian, June 13, 1862.
Colonel — Your second dispatch of yesterday has been received, and I congratulate you upon your success. Can you send one of the paroled Yankee doctors to attend to the wounded near the battlefield until Dr. McGuire can make some arrangements respecting them? Please send the captured horses to my camp, near Mount Crawford, to-day, and generally send all captures to the rear at the earliest practicable moment.

I wish you would send a scout in the direction of Conrad's store, and let it visit Keesletown and McGaheysville. It may not be necessary [533] to go further than McGaheysville. It is reported that the enemy is still in that direction.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

near Mount Meridian, June 13, 1862.
Colonel — It is important to cut off all communication between us and the enemy. Please require the ambulances to go beyond our lines, and press our lines forward as far as practicable. It is very desirable that we should have New Market, and that no information should pass to the enemy. I expect soon to let you have two companies of cavalry from the Army of the Northwest. I will not be able to leave here to-day, and probably for some time; so you must look out for the safety of your train. Please impress the bearers of the flag of truce as much as possible with an idea of a heavy advance on our part, and let them return under such impression. While it is desirable for us to have New Market, you must judge of the practicability. The only true rule for cavalry is to follow as long as the enemy retreats. Beyond that, of course, you can, under present circumstances, do little or nothing; but every mile that you advance will probably give you additional prisoners, and especially so far as New Market, where you will get command of the road from Keesletown and Columbia bridge. I congratulate you upon your continued success.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.
Press our lines as far as you otherwise would have done before the flag of truce is permitted to pass them.

T. J. J.

Near Weyer's Cave, June 17, 1862.
Colonel T. T. Munford, Commanding Cavalry, Valley District:
Colonel — The arms you spoke of sending have not yet been received. Did you send them here or to Staunton? It is important that you picket from the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah mountain, or to the mountain west of Harrisonburg. Until further orders, send your dispatches to Brigadier-General C. S. Winder, near Weyer's Cave. Do all you can to cut off communication across the lines between us and the enemy; also let there be as little communication as practicable between your command and that of the infantry. Let your couriers be men whom you can [534] trust, and caution them against carrying news forward, as it may thereby reach the enemy.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.

Near Weyer's Cave, June 17, 1862.
Colonel T. T. Munford, Commanding Cavalry, Valley District:
Colonel — I congratulate you upon the success of yesterday. Send the prisoners to Staunton, and also the captured property, if you can spare it. If you have need of it, let it be accounted for to Major J. A. Harman, by your Quartermaster, as captured property, and as such taken up on his return. If you can meet me in Staunton by five o'clock to-morrow morning, I hope you will do so, as I desire to have a personal interview with you. Instead of sending your dispatches to General Winder, please continue to send them directed to me.

Your most obedient servant,

T. J. Jackson, Major-General.
P. S.--I do not wish you to leave your command, unless you can safely do so. I will be at Mount Sidney to-night about ten o'clock. Can you meet me there? I will be on my horse at the north end of the town, so you need not inquire after me. I do not desire it to be known that I am absent from this point.

T. J. J.
Encourage citizens in driving their cattle on this side of the lines, but do not take any further steps, and say to those who come on this side that for a few days they will have to remain on this side, as no one is permitted to pass the lines to the enemy's side.

T. J. J.

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