previous next

His strict discipline.

Jackson probably put more officers under arrest than all other Confederate generals combined. He was probably sometimes too severe. I have reason to believe that General Lee thought that he was too severe both on Garnett and A. P. Hill. But there can be little doubt that if there had been more stern discipline [90] in the Confederate Army, it would have been more efficient.

But Jackson was always ready to obey himself orders from his superiors. General Lee once said of him: ‘I have only to intimate to him what I wish done, and he promptly obeys my wishes.’

My friend, Dr. James Power Smith, who served so heroically on Jackson's staff and has twice appeared before this society, gives a striking incident illustrating this: General Lee sent Jackson, by Captain Smith, a message to the effect that he would be glad if he would call at his headquarters the first time he rode in that direction, but that it was a matter of no pressing importance, and he must not trouble himself about it.

When Jackson received this message he said: ‘I will go early in the morning, Captain Smith, and I wish you to go with me.’

The next morning when Captain Smith looked out he saw that a fearful snowstorm was raging, and took it for granted that Jackson would not undertake to ride fourteen miles to General Lee's quarters through that blizzard.

Very soon, however, Captain Smith's servant came to say, ‘The general done got his breakfast, and is almost ready to start.’

Hurrying his preparations, the young aid galloped after his chief through the raging storm. On reaching Lee's quarters, the general greeted him with, ‘Why, what is the matter, general; have those people crossed the river again?’

‘No, sir; but you sent me word that you wished to see me.’

‘But I hope that Captain Smith told you that I said it was not a matter of pressing importance, and that you must not trouble yourself about it. I had no idea of your coming such weather as this.’

Bowing his head, Jackson gave the amphatic reply:

General Lee's slightest wish is a supreme order to me, and I always try to obey it promptly.’

He certainly acted upon this principle.

Fourth. Attention to minute details was very characteristic of Jackson. He had an interview with his quartermaster, commissary, chief of ordnance and surgeon-general every day, and [91] kept minutely posted as to the condition of their departments. This was so well understood throughout the army, that I once heard a quartermaster say to his sergeant: ‘Have that horse shod immediately, or there will come an order down here from “Old Jack” wanting to know why the gray mare is allowed to go with a shoe off of her left hind foot.’

He kept the most minute knowledge of the topography of the country in which he was campaigning, and the roads over which he might move, and often when his men were asleep in their bivouack, he was riding to and fro inspecting the country and the roads.

But when he began to ask me which side of certain creeks was the highest, and whether there was not a ‘blind road’ turning off at this point or that, and showed the most perfect familiarity with the country, and the roads, I had to interrupt him by saying: ‘Excuse me, General, I thought I knew not only every road, but every footpath in that region, but I find that you really know more about them than I do, and I can give you no information that would be valuable to you.’

I can never forget another interview I had with him on the Second Manassas campaign. His corps had crossed the South Fork of the Rappahannock River, General Ewell's Division had been formed on the bank of the North Fork, and the rest of the corps were marching up between the two rivers to Warrenton White Sulphur Springs, where it was General Lee's purpose to cross his whole army, and plant it in General Pope's rear at Warrenton. In bringing a wounded man of my regiment—the 13th Virginia—back from Ewell's Division to our surgeon, and returning, I saw a skirmish line of the boys in Blue who had crossed at the forks of the river below, and were moving up in General Ewell's rear between him and the moving column of Hill's Division. I waited to satisfy myself that they were real Blue Coats, and becoming fully satisfied by their firing at me, one of the bullets cutting off the extreme end of my horse's ear, I had, of course, important business elsewhere, and was galloping to find General Hill, who commanded that part of our column, when I ran up against old Stonewall himself; I approached him, trying to be as calm as possible, and the following colloquy ensued: [92]

‘General, are you aware that the enemy have crossed at the forks of the river, and are now moving up in the rear of General Ewell, and between him and A. P. Hill's column?’

‘No! have they?’

‘Yes, sir, I have seen them.’

‘Are you certain they are the enemy?’

‘Yes, sir, I am.’

‘How close did you get to them?’

“I suppose about 1,000 yards, I could plainly see their blue uniforms and the United States flag which they carried. They shot at me, and cut the ear of my horse, as you see, and then I got away from there as fast as my horse would bring me.” I expected that he would now send staff officers in every direction with orders to meet this new movement, but Jackson coolly replied: ‘1 am very much obliged to you, sir, for the information you have given me, but General Trimble will attend to them. I expected this movement, and ordered Trimble posted there to meet it.’

He rode off, seemingly as unconcerned as if nothing had happened. Trimble did ‘attend to them,’ and after a severe fight drove them back.

General Lee was prevented by a sudden rise of the river from a severe storm from crossing at Warrenton White Sulphur Springs, but the next day Jackson forded the river higher up, and made his famous movement to Pope's flank and rear.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Tom Jackson (9)
Fitz Lee (8)
James Power Smith (6)
A. P. Hill (4)
Ewell (4)
James Trimble (3)
Pope (2)
Milton Garnett (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: