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General T. J. (‘Stonewall’) Jackson. [from the Richmond, Va., times, January 23, 1898.]

Incidents in the remarkable career of the great soldier.

by General Dabney H. Maury.
He made a poor impression when he first arrived at West Point—a second in a Duel—he obeyed orders at great cost.

Men will never cease to wonder at the character and history of General Thomas Jonathan Jackson. No other man in history can be likened to him. He has oftener been compared with Oliver Cromwell than with any other great soldier. But Cromwell was a great statesman, who ruled his people with far-reaching wisdom. We have no evidence that Jackson can be likened to Cromwell in this, but would be inclined to pronounce Jackson a warrior, pure and simple, devoid of any great strategic capacity, as he seemed to be of good fellowship, humorous inclinations or any degree of tenderness.

Four years of incarceration together at West Point and subsequent service together in the armies of the United States and Confederate States gave me as good opportunities of estimating the mind and the nature of Stonewall Jackson as any man has ever enjoyed. I believe Jackson was as fond of me as he ever was of any man of our times. It was for his wife to waken and nurture, and since his death to disclose to the world the deep tenderness of that wonderful character, a tenderness never before suspected by any human being to exist.

In the life and letters of Stonewall Jackson, published by her, are revelations of affectionate gentleness unknown to any but to her. The world owes her untold gratitude for this work, so beautifully accomplished that it will be a classic as long as the English language shall be known.

Jackson at West Point.

I entered the Military Academy at West Point in June, 1842. A week afterwards a cadet sergeant passed, escorting a newly-arrived cadet to his quarters. The personal appearance of the stranger was so remarkable as to attract the attention of several of us, who were [310] standing near and chatting together. Burkett Fry, A. P. Hill, and George Pickett, all Virginians, and destined to be distinguished generals, made our group. The new cadet was clad in gray homespun, a waggoner's hat, and large, heavy brogans; weather-stained saddlebags were over his shoulders. His sturdy step, cold, bright gray eye, thin, firm lips, caused me say, ‘That fellow looks as if he had come to stay,’ and on the return of the sergeant I asked him who that cadet was. He replied: ‘Cadet Jackson, of Virginia.’ Whereupon I at once ascended to his room to show him my interest in him, a fellow-countryman in a strange land. He received my courteous advances in a manner so chilling that it caused me to regret having made them, and I rejoined my companions with criticisms brief and emphatic as to his intellectual endowments. Days and weeks went by, with no change in the ‘spap-shot’ estimate then imparted.

One evening, Fry and Hill and I were lolling upon our camp bedding, the evening police were going on, and ‘Cadet Jackson, from Virginia,’ was upon duty about our tent, when I, desirous again to be affable and playful with our countryman, lifted the tent wall, and addressed him with an air of authority, and mock sternness, ordering him to be more attentive to his duty, to remove those cigar stumps, and otherwise mind his business. His reply was a look so stern and angry as to let me know that he was doing that job. Whereupon, I let that tent wall drop and became intensely interested in my yellow-back novel. So soon as police was over I arose and girded my loins, saying I had made Cadet Jackson, of Virginia, angry, and must at once humble myself and explain that I was not really in command of that police detail. I found him at the guard tent, called him out, and said:

Mr. Jackson, I find that I made a mistake just now in speaking to you in a playful manner—not justified by our slight acquaintance. I regret that I did so.’

He replied, with his stony look, ‘That is perfectly satisfactory, sir.’ Whereupon I returned to my comrades, and informed them that, in my opinion, ‘Cadet Jackson, from Virginia, is a jackass,’ which verdict was unanimously concurred in; and we all with one accord began to array ourselves for the next duty in order, and thenceforward nobody in that tent ‘projected’ with that cadet until our four-years' course was ended, and we were emancipated from the military prison of West Point, for we all liked and respected him. [311]

After our encampment of two months was over we went into barracks and were arranged in sections alphabetically, and thus it was McClellan and I sat side by side; for a very brief space, though. Next week he went up till he became head, while I remained tutisimus in medio for four blessed years. I was very sorry to lose Mac. from my side, especially during recitations, for he used to tell me things, and was a great help; besides he was such a little bred and born gentleman, only fifteen years and seven months, while I-God save the mark—was twenty.

‘Old Jack’ as a student.

“Old Jack,” as we called him, hung about the bottom, at the first January examination all below him were cut off, he was foot and probably would have been cut off also, but his teachers observed in him such a determined intention to succeed that they felt sure he would certainly improve—and he did.

Our rooms were small, each with two single bedsteads (iron), a bare, cold floor, and an anthracite grate. ‘Old Jack,’ a few minutes before taps, would pile his grate with coal, so as to have a bright, glowing fire when taps sounded and all other lights were out.

Then he would lie prone upon the floor, when the light enabled him to study the lesson for the day, and very soon he began to rise in his class, and we all were glad of his success; for cold and undemonstrative as he was, he was absolutely honest and kindly, intensely attending to his own business, and as it was, he came to be near the head of our class, the largest that had ever graduated there. We had altogether 164 members—counting those turned back into it; we graduated sixty after four weary, profitless years (to me).

Then Cadmus Wilcox, Archie Botts, ‘Dominie’ Wilson and ‘Old Jack,’ as we now called Jackson of Virginia, traveled on together to their Virginia homes, and arriving in Washington, took a room in Brown's Hotel. All four were in one room, and it was blazing hot, for they were right under the roof. Cadmus, on reaching the capital of the nation, was invited to spend the evening with the Secretary of War, and did not return to his room until about 1 o'clock A. M. He paused; the door was locked, and the sounds of boisterous revelry were roaring within.

For some time he demanded entrance in vain, and when at last admitted found ‘High Jinks’ were enacting there. Poor Archie, in his fine new uniform, lay slumbering upon a bed, while Dominie [312] and ‘Old Jack,’ with only one garment, were singing with stunning effect ‘Benny Hahn's Oh,’ and executing a barefooted back-step in time to the music. Each composed his own poetry, in tones which resounded through the house and over the Avenue, till old Mr. Jesse Brown sent his compliments, with a request that they ‘would stop that noise.’ This was ‘Old Jack's’ first and last frolic, to which in years long after his fame had filled the world he dimly alluded, when he said he was too fond of liquor to trust himself to drink it.

As for poor Dominie, his long pent craving was never slaked any more until his enfeebled frame was laid to rest in a soldier's grave, away off in the shadow of the Rockies.

Second in a duel.

From the moment that Jackson entered upon his duties in the army, he evinced that terrible earnestness which was the characteristic of his conduct in battle or in work.

My squadron of the Mounted Rifles escorted four siege-pieces, which he was charged to deliver safely in Monterey, and he did it with an unrelenting energy which was necessary to get them through. During the battles in the Valley, he served as a lieutenant of Magruder's battery, and won many distinctions. Having entered the service as a second lieutenant, he was brevetted first lieutenant, captain and major, in one year's field service.

While serving in the Valley of Mexico, he acted as second in a duel between two officers of one of the new infantry regiments—the 10th, I believe. General Birkett Fry told me the incident, as follows:

Lieutenant Lee, of Virginia, was the adjutant of the regiment, who, feeling himself aggrieved by Captain———, of Philadelphia, sent him a challenge. The Captain was an avowed duelist and an expert rifle shot, and accepted Lee's challenge. They were to fight with rifles at forty paces. Jackson and Fry were seconds to Lee. Jackson won the word, which he delivered, standing in the position of a soldier, in stentorian tones, audible over a forty-acre lot. The rifles cracked together, and Jackson, astounded that his man was still standing, said to Fry: ‘What shall we do now? They will demand another shot.’ ‘We will grant it with pistols at ten paces,’ said Fry, and as he said, the second of the Captain came forward [313] and demanded another shot. ‘We agree,’ said Jackson, ‘and we will fight with pistols at ten paces.’ The Captain declined the terms, the men were never reconciled. The Captain died many years after, regretting that he had not killed Lee.

Jackson was a strict constructionist of all orders and of all points of duty.

Obeyed the order.

When John Brown made his attempt to arouse insurrection in Virginia, Governor Wise called out the troops, of the State, and ordered the Corps of Cadets to be held ready for immediate service. General Smith, superintendent of the corps, promptly obeyed the orders. Major Jackson reported at the guard-room ready for the field. General Smith, after giving attention to some matters requiring it, said: ‘Major Jackson, you will remain as you are till further orders.’ At that moment Major Jackson was seated upon a campstool in the guard-room with his sabre across his knees.

Next morning at reveille General Smith repaired to the guardroom and found Jackson sitting on the camp-stool and said:

‘Why, Major, why are you here?’

“Because you ordered me to remain here as I was last night, and I have done so.”1

Next year he went off to the great war between the States, and won fame at once. Rumors of a great victory came. His wife and friends were anxious for the news. It came by a courier, who spurred in hot haste to his home, in Lexington. These were the words: ‘My subscription to the negro Sunday-school is due—it is fifty cents—which I send by the courier.’ Nothing more.

At the First Manassas his fame was made, when that noble soldier, Bernard Bee, cried out to his wavering men, ‘See where Jackson, with his Virginians, stands like a stone wall! Let us form behind them.’

After the repulse at Malvern Hill, General Lee and other generals were discussing the situation, and what we were to do in the morning. Jackson was lying upon the ground, apparently slumbering, his cap lying over his face. He was aroused and asked his opinion [314] of what was to be done in the morning. Removing the cap from his face, he said: ‘They won't be there in the morning,’ nor were they.

One morning, while marching with his staff, he stopped at the door of a farm-house. A gentle-looking woman was in the porch, with a little child at her knee, of whom he requested a drink of water. She promptly handed him a stone jug of cool and fresh water, which he quaffed like a horse. One of his staff asked the good woman to ‘give me a drink of that water, please.’ She emptied the pitcher upon the ground, went into the house and brought out a white pitcher, from which she gave the captain a drink. ‘Why did you not give it from the other pitcher?’ asked the officer. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘No man's lips shall ever again drink from that pitcher.’

Blessed the child.

Again, while marching on to some new victory, he halted by a farm-house, whence a young mother came out into the road, with her young child in her arms, and said: ‘General, won't you bless my child?’ He took the little infant in his arms, and reverently raising it, with uncovered head, prayed for God's blessing upon it.

In the battle of Kernstown he was worsted by General Shields (one of the noblest of the Federal commanders). Because of the Confederates' ammunition being all exhausted, General Dick Garnett withdrew his troops. Jackson arrested Garnett, one of the truest and highest gentlemen in our army, and held him in arrest until Garnett, by personal influence, procured a trial by court-martial. Jackson was the principal witness for the prosecution. The court acquitted Garnett, after hearing Jackson's testimony, and only permitted the defence to be spread upon the record on Garnett's demand that, after such unusual and conspicuous severity, it was his right.

Poor Garnett fell in front of his brigade in the great charge at Gettysburg. He was mourned throughout our army, for a braver and gentler gentleman never died in battle.

‘I Fear no man.’

While a professor of the Virginia Military Institue, Jackson arrested and caused a distinguished cadet to be dismissed for an infraction of the regulations. That cadet was distinguished as a scholar [315] and soldier. He found himself after four years of study and scholarly achievements deprived of the diploma, which was the object of his long endeavor; without it his livelihood was imperilled. He was justly outraged by such harshness, and vowed he would castigate Jackson, and prepared himself to execute that purpose. He was a powerful and daring young man. The friends of both were deeply anxious—Jackson was urged to have him bound over to keep the peace. This would involve his oath that he was in bodily fear of his enemy. He replied: ‘I will not do it, for it would be false. I do not fear him. I fear no man.’ Then the superintendent had to take the oath as required by the law, and have the young man bound over to peace. When the war came on Jackson, upon his own promotion to a corps, had this young fellow made brigadier, and he became one of the most distinguished generals of the war, and is known to-day as one of the ablest men of our State. Jackson knew he had done his pupil a grievous wrong, and did his best to repair it.

It is a pity where there is so much to admire and wonder at that Jackson's biographers should claim for him accomplishments he did not possess. Some of them tell of his fine horsemanship. He was singularly awkward and uncomfortable to look at upon a horse. In the riding school at West Point we used to watch him with anxiety when his turn came to cut at the head or leap the bars. He had a rough hand with the bridle, an ungainly seat, and when he would cut at a head upon the ground, he seemed in imminent danger of falling headlong from his horse. One biographer tells us ‘as proof of his skill that no horse ever threw him.’ This proof would not satisfy a fox-hunter or a cow-boy, or any other real horseman. He could no more have become a horseman than he could have danced the german.

About 1850 Jackson was a lieutenant of artillery stationed at Governor's Island, when he was invited to accept the chair of Mathematics in the Virginia Military Institute.

In those days the government would grant an officer leave of absence for one year to enable him to try such an office before resigning his commission.

So he came up to West Point to see McClellan and myself and other comrades before retiring from the army. He was more cordial and affectionate than was usual with him, for he was never demonstrative in his manners, and he was in good spirits, because of his promotion and the compliment paid him.


Peculiar malady.

He informed us, however, of a peculiar malady which troubled him, and complained that one arm and one leg were heavier than the other, and would occasionally raise his arm straight up, as he said, to let the blood run back into his body, and so relieve the excessive weight.

I have heard that he often did this, when marching, and having become very religious, his men supposed he was praying. I never saw him any more, except at Manassas after the battle, when General Johnston and other officers were congratulating him upon his fine conduct in the battle. These peculiarities have often been regarded and cited as evidences of the great genius he possessed.

I have always heard it said that he was an advocate for raising the black flag, and showing no mercy to the enemy who were invading our country and destroying our homes. And it has often been said and written, that he urged General Lee to assault the enemy in the town of Fredericksburg by night, after their defeat, and while they were retreating over the river, and that General Lee refused to do so because of the peril to the people of the town. I have never heard of Jackson evincing any sympathy or gentleness, or merciful regard for the wounded enemies he must have seen, nor tender emotions of any sort.

Therefore, the delightful book lately published by his widow is a revelation and surprise. Nothing in all literature can equal the exquisite gentleness and sweetness this book gives us of the stern, stolid, impassive nature, who lavished such tenderness upon the object of his love. To her he unlocks a treasure of rich and pious and loving emotions, none of us, his most intimate friends, had ever before suspected to exist.

We are glad to know a new edition will soon appear, for every library is incomplete without his wife's biography of Stonewall Jackson.

1 Jackson was Professor of Mathematics. There was a desire on the part of the cadets that he should command the corps in the impending battle. General Smith meant he should remain as Professor of Mathematics by ‘remain as you are.’

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