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The flank movement that routed the Yankees.

General Jackson's mortal wound.

Description of how he received it, by Captain W. F. Randolph, of his body-guard—Under a terrific fire.

The following, written by Captain W. F. Randolph, of ‘StonewallJackson's body-guard, is taken from the Greeneville News-Times, March, 1091:

It is not the purpose of the writer of this article to give a detailed account of the memorable battle of Chancellorsville, which has been so often described by pens more felicitous than mine, but only to give some few incidents of the first two days leading up to the terrible catastrophe, which was the closing scene of one of the most brilliant and successful movements recorded in the history of any war.

The writer was, during these two days, attached to the person of General Jackson, and only left his side occasionally as the bearer of orders to his division commanders.

During the winter of ‘62 and ‘63, the Army of Northern Virginia was encamped near and around Fredericksburg, and the writer was in command of a company of cavalry and attached to the headquarters of General Stonewall Jackson, then located near Hamilton's Crossing, about three miles below the town.

The battle of Fredericksburg, which took place the 13th of December, resulted in the defeat of Burnside, and his retreat across the river ended all active operations for the winter. So we settled down in quiet observation, awaiting with anxious expectation the advance of General Hooker, whose artillery crowned the heights of the other side of the river, where the white tents of the Federal army could be seen here dotting the same hills.

The spring was well advanced, the country all around us was covered with verdure, and the roads had become dry and hard, when [330] we were awakened from our long holiday by the welcome announcement that the Federal commander's long-expected advance had at last commenced, and that a portion of his army had crossed the Rapidan at Gorman's Ford, and were marching upon Fredericksburg. General Lee at once put his whole army in motion, with Jackson's corps in the front, leaving one division, under General Early, to prevent the enemy from crossing at Fredericksburg and attacking his rear.

It will be remembered that two of the best divisions of Longstreet's corps had been detached and sent to Southeastern Virginia, leaving General Lee with scarcely fifty thousand infantry with which to meet that well-equipped and splendidly-appointed army of Hooker's, consisting of more than one hundred thousand men. After an arduous and exciting march, without rest, the army, frequently advancing in line of battle, was expecting every moment to meet the enemy. The column, consisting of a portion of Hill's division, halted about sunset within less than a mile of the Chancellorsville house, in the vicinity of which the enemy was evidently concentrated, awaiting our attack. But the impenetrable nature of the thickets, which separated us, prevented any further advance in that direction, and the whole army was forced to bivouac for the night. At this point a road, which was then known as the Bun road, intersected about at right angles the plank road, along which we had been moving, and here, with no other protection than the spreading arms of an immense oak, and without camp equippage of any kind, the two generals—Lee and Jackson—slept for the night, myself and a few of my troops lying within a few feet of them.

I was awakened next morning by a light touch on my shoulder, and on jumping up had the mortification to find that the sun had already risen and General Lee had gone. General Jackson, who was just mounting his horse, turned to me with a kindly word and smile, telling me to follow as soon as possible, and dashed off at a furious gallop down the Mine Run road, along which his troops had been rapidly marching since daylight. I did not succeed in overtaking the General again for several hours, and when at last I came up with him, he was far in advance of his columns, standing talking to General Fitzhugh Lee in the old turnpike road, at a point about five miles distant from Chancellorsville, having made a circuit of fifteen miles, thus putting the whole Federal army between himself and General Lee, and the two divisions of Longstreet's corps which were with him. As the several divisions of the corps came up they [331] were formed in line of battle, and about 4 o'clock in the evening everything was in readiness for the attack.

While Fitzhugh was talking to the General a half-dozen troopers rode up, bringing with them a Yankee lieutenant, whom they had just captured. Lee turned to the officer and asked him smilingly what would Hooker think if old Stonewall were to suddenly fall upon his rear. ‘Ah,’ said the Federal officer, ‘Hooker has both Jackson and your great Lee in the hollow of his hand, and it is only a matter of a very short time when your whole army will be bagged.’ Jackson's lips closed in a grim smile, but he said nothing, and Lee and his troopers rode away, laughing, leaving us alone.

The General turned to me and asked how far behind was the advance of his army. I replied that the leading division ought to be up in an hour. We both dismounted. Jackson seating himself on a log by the road, studying a map, which he spread out before him. After tying our horses I took my seat not far from him, and, being somewhat fatigued from the long ride, I fell asleep. Waking with a start, I turned and saw the General kneeling, with his arms resting on the log, in earnest prayer. I was profoundly impressed, and a feeling of great security came over me. Surely this great soldier, who held such close and constant communion with his Maker, must certainly succeed in whatever he undertook!

Presently the General, who was still seated on the log, called me to his side, and ordered me to ride down the turnpike as far as possible in the direction of the enemy, and ascertain if any of his pickets were stationed in the direction facing our advance, and to gather any other information it was possible to obtain.

Taking one man with me, I mounted my horse and galloped rapidly down the road until I came within sight of the camp fires of the enemy. Dismounting, I tied my horse in a thicket near the road, advanced cautiously, expecting every moment to come in contact with some outlying picket, but met no enemy until I came to an opening in the woods, overlooking a large field, where I saw a sight most amazing and unexpected. No less than a vast force of Federals in every conceivable state of disorder, without any formation; several batteries of artillery unlimbered; hundreds gathered around the camp fires cooking, some lying sunning themselves in the bright May sunshine, as apparently unconscious of danger as if they had been encamped around the environs of Washington city—no sentinels, no pickets, no line of battle anywhere. My heart bounded with exultation, and I could have shouted for joy. ‘Verily,’ I said [332] to myself, ‘the God of battles has this day delivered these people into our hands.’ But I had time only for a brief glance. Hurrying to where I had tied my horse, I mounted and rode with all possible speed back to where I had left the General. I made my report. Not a word escaped his lips. He raised his eyes to heaven, and his lips seemed to murmur a prayer, and then turning to General Hill said:

‘Order the whole line to advance, General Hill; but slowly, with great caution, and without noise.’

And so the movement commenced slowly, silently, with no sound save the occasional cracking of a stick beneath the feet of the men; those long grey lines stretching far into the gloom of the forest, pressed on; twenty-five thousand veterans of many a hard fought field, who had never moved save in the path of victory; on and on in the gathering evening, the sinking sun casting long shadows behind them, the frightened birds twittering and chirping as they flew from tree to tree, and an occasional bark of a squirrel as he looked out, startled at the unwonted scene, were the only sounds that interrupted the stillness, solemn and oppressive; a strange calm preceding a storm, the light of which has rarely been chronicled in the annals of war.

When our line of battle debouched from the dense wood which effectually concealed the advance, it came immediately upon the Federal encampment and directly in the rear of their whole line. The first intimation the enemy had of our approach was the characteristic Confederate yell, which rolled along the line, and rung out clear and loud above the thunderous clash of musketry and re-echoed through the forest, which had until then been as silent as the grave. Never was surprise so complete, never was a victory more easily won. As our lines swept like an avalanche over the Federal camps, they were overwhelmed and outnumbered at every point, resistance was paralyzed, and the panic which ensued is indescribable. On the part of the enemy it was not a retreat, but the wildest flight—a race for life.

At one time during the evening a young officer, wild with enthusiasm, dashed up to the General, crying: ‘General, they are running too fast for us; we can't come up with them.’ ‘They never run too fast for me, sir,’ was the immediate response. And thus onward rushed pursuers and pursued down the road toward Chancellorsville. Now and then Jackson would press his horse to a gallop [333] and dash to the front, and whenever he appeared the troops would break ranks and rush around him with the wildest cheers I ever heard from human throats. When night closed upon the scene the victory seemed to be complete. The infantry of the enemy had disappeared from our immediate front, falling back under cover of several batteries of artillery, which, halting upon every eminence, poured a furious fire of shot and shell down the road upon our advancing columns. In order to avoid this furious fire as much as possible, our men were formed in columns and made to march up the edges of the dense wood, and parallel with the road. This they were able to do by the aid of the moon, which shone very brightly, rendering all objects in our immediate vicinity clearly distinct. About this time General A. P. Hill rode up, and Jackson and himself had a conference of some length. I did not hear all that was said, but both were deeply absorbed, for shells from the battery of the enemy were bursting all around us and ploughing up the ground under our horses' feet without either of them taking the slightest notice of the little incident. As for myself, I cared but little either, as I was then impressed with the idea that the bullet had not been moulded which was to kill our General. The firing soon ceased and Hill rode away.

Lane's brigade.

At this juncture the General had no officer with him, except Lieutenant Keith Boswell, an officer belonging to his signal corps, and myself, together with a dozen of my own men, who were riding behind. A Confederate brigade was marching slowly in column on the left of the road and close to the woods, Keith Boswell was riding on the right of the General, and myself on the left, between him and our lines. The General turned to me and asked: ‘Whose brigade is that?’ ‘I don't know, sir,’ I replied, ‘but will find out in a moment.’ I at once rode up to our line and asked the first officer I met whose brigade it was. He replied: ‘Lane's North Carolina.’ I rode back to Jackson, giving him the reply. ‘Go and tell the officer in command,’ he said, ‘to halt his brigade.’ I rode up to the same officer, gave the command, and told him that it came from General Jackson in person. The order was passed along the line, and the whole brigade halted at once, making a half-wheel to the right, facing the road, and rested upon their arms. We continued our movement in the same order, walking our horses very slowly towards the front of the brigade. Suddenly the General asked: [334] ‘Captain, is there a road near our present position leading to the Rappahannock?’ I replied that not far from where we stood there was a road which led into the woods in the direction of the Rappahannock river.

“This road must be found, then, at once,” he said. He had hardly uttered these words when a few scattering random shots were heard in the woods to our right. The men in line on our left, excited apparently by this fire, commenced firing across the road into the woods beyond, not in regular volleys, but in a desultory way, without order, here and there along the line.

General Jackson turned to me and said: ‘Order those men to stop that fire, and tell the officers not to allow another shot fired without orders.’

I rode up and down the line and gave the order to both men and officers, telling them also that they were endangering the lives of General Jackson and his escort, but in vain. Those immediately in my front would cease as I gave the order, but the firing would break out above or below me, and instead of decreasing the shots increased in frequency, I rode back to Jackson and said: ‘General, it is impossible to stop these men. I think we had best pass through their line and get into the woods behind them.’ ‘Very well said,’ was the reply. So, making a half whirl to the left, thus presenting a front of, say, sixty yards, our little company commenced the movement to pass through the line, and thus put ourselves beyond the range of the fire.

A few more seconds would have placed us in safety, for we were not over three yards from the line, but as we turned, looking up and down as far as my eye could reach, I saw that long line of shining bayonets rise and concentrate upon us. I felt what was coming, and driving spurs into my horse's flanks, a powerful animal and full of spirit, he rose high in the air, and as we passed over the line the thunder crash from hundreds of rifles burst in full in our very faces. I looked back as my horse made the leap, and everything had gone down like leaves before the blast of a hurricane. The only living thing besides myself that passed through that stream of fire was Boswell's black stallion, my attention being called to him by the rattle of a chain-halter that swung loose from his neck, as he passed out of sight in the darkness of the wood. But his saddle was empty. Boswell, too, an old comrade of many a perilous scout, had gone down with all the rest before that inexcusable and unwarranted fire. My own horse was wounded in several places, my clothes and saddle [335] were perforated with bullets, yet I escaped without a wound, the only living man to tell the fearful story.

As soon as I could control my horse, rendered frantic by his wounds, I rode among our men, who were falling back into the woods, and from behind the trees were still continuing that reckless and insane fire, and urging them to form their line and come back to the road, telling them that they had fired not upon the enemy, but upon General Jackson and his escort.

Then sick at heart I dashed back to the road, and there the saddest tragedy of the war was revealed in its fullest horror.

I saw the General's horse, which I recognized at once, standing close to the edge of the road, with his head bent low, and a stream of blood running from a wound in his neck. Jumping from my horse I hastened to the spot and saw the General himself lying in the edge of the woods. He seemed to be dead, and I wished all the bullets had passed through my own body rather than such a happening as this. I threw myself on the ground by his side and raised his head and shoulders on my arm. He groaned heavily.

“Are you much hurt, General?” I asked, as soon as I could find voice and utterance.

“Wild fire, that sir; Wild fire,” he replied, in his usual rapid way. This was all he said. I found that his left arm was shattered by a bullet just below the elbow, and his right hand was lacerated by a minie ball that passed through the palm. Not a living soul was in sight then, but in a few moments A. P. Hill rode up, and then Lieutenant Smith, one of his aids. General Hill ordered me to mount my horse and bring an ambulance as quickly as possible. ‘But don't tell the men that it is General Jackson who is wounded,’ he said. I soon found two of the ambulance corps with a stretcher, and ordered them to the front, saying that a wounded officer needed their services. Then I rode further on to find an ambulance. Before coming up with one I met Sandy Pendleton, Jackson's adjutant-general, told him what had occurred, and he ordered me to go and find General J. E. B. Stuart and tell him to come up at once.

“Where shall I find him?” I asked.

“Somewhere near the Rappahannock,” he replied, ‘not more than four or five miles away.’

I rode off through the woods in the direction of the river, and by a piece of good luck soon struck a well-defined road, which seemed to lead in the right direction. After riding along that road for a few miles I had the good fortune to meet General Stuart himself with a [336] small escort of cavalry. I stated that General Jackson had been badly wounded, and that Pendleton had ordered me to tell him to come to the army at once. Without making any comment, he dashed off at full speed. I tried to follow, but by this time my horse was much weakened by the loss of blood, and began to stagger under me. I was obliged to dismount, and found that he was shot through both thighs, and slightly wounded in several other places, so I was forced to walk, leading the wounded animal slowly behind me.

This ended my connection with the tragic incident of this most memorable night. I did not reach headquarters until 2 o'clock that night. I saw Dr. McGuire, and, asking him about the General's condition, he told me that his arm had been amputated below the elbow, his wounded hand had been dressed, and that he was resting quietly. The wounds were serious and very painful, he said, but not necessarily fatal, and there seemed to be no reason why he should not recover.

If asked why and how such a fire could have occurred, I can only answer that it was then and is still a mystery, wholly unaccountable and without provocation .or warrant. We had been for some time walking our horses along the road in close proximity to this very brigade from which the fire came. The moon, which was not far from full, poured a flood of light upon the wide, open turnpike. Jackson and his escort were plainly visible from every point of view, and the General himself must have been recognized by any one who had ever seen him before. There was no reason for mistaking us for an enemy, and when turning to pass through our line to avoid the scattering random fire which was sending bullets around and about us, I did not for a minute dream that there was a possibility of the guns of our own men being directed upon us. An accident inexplicable, unlooked for, and impossible to foresee, deprived the army of its greatest general at a time when his services were indispensable. If Jackson had lived that night he would without doubt have marched his columns along the very road upon which I met Stuart, thus throwing his entire force in the rear of Hooker's army, his left resting upon the Rappahannock, cutting off the enemy's communications and forming around his flanks a net of steel from which he could never have extricated himself.

Broken, dispirited, panic-stricken, his right wing routed and doubled back upon his centre, tangled in a wilderness without room [337] to employ his immense force. His very numbers working to its disadvantage, hemmed in on every side, with Jackson's victorious corps in his rear and Lee in his front, strange as it may seem, Hooker's immense army of 100,000 men would have been forced to surrender, and the war would have ended with a clap of thunder. The whole North would have been laid open, and Lee's victorious army, augmented by thousands of enthusiastic volunteers. Washington and Baltimore would have been occupied and all of Maryland aroused.

This young and virile Confederacy, sprung all at once armed and equipped a very Cyclops from the brain of Minerva, would have taken its place high up among the family of nations.

That blast in the wilderness put an end to the almost assured result, and the hope of a great southern empire became only a dream.

Was it Providence, or fate? Who can tell?

1 note.—See ante, pp. 166-172, article by Colonel C. C. Sanders.

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