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‘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.


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