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Chapter 22:

  • Military situation in the Early months of 1863.
  • -- Early resumption of the campaign in Virginia. -- the new Federal favourite, “fighting Joe Hooker.” -- the battle of Chancellorsville. -- Hooker's plan of operations. -- his flaming address to his troops. -- critical situation of Gen. Lee. -- surrounded by an enemy more than threefold his numbers. -- Calmness and self-possession of Lee. -- his deliberate dispositions for attack. -- the flank-march of Stonewall Jackson. -- how he emerged from “the Wilderness.” -- fall of Stonewall Jackson. -- the impetus of the Confederate attack ceases. -- how Gen. Lee received the news of Jackson's fall. -- the battle in front of Chancellorsville. -- Hooker's army crippled and driven. -- Sedgwick's advance from Fredericksburg. -- it arrests Lee's pursuit of Hooker. -- the fight near Salem Church. -- Sedgwick's force routed. -- Hooker retreats across the river. -- his terrible losses. -- Chancellorsville, the masterpiece of Lee's military life. -- Reflections on the victory. -- startling official developments as to the numbers of Confederate armies. -- particulars of the death of Jackson. -- exact report of his last words. -- character of Stonewall Jackson. -- his great ambition. -- Early misconceptions of the man. -- how he was ridiculed. -- his difference with President Davis. -- his resignation sent in, but recalled. -- Jackson's military career. -- his genius. -- his piety. -- his epicene nature. -- personal appearance of the hero. -- what Virginia owes to his memory

The military situation in the spring months of 1863 may be described by a few general lines drawn through the country, and bounding the main theatres of the war. In Virginia either army was in view of the other from the heights overlooking the town of Fredericksburg, whilst the country between the Rappahannock and the Potomac was at various times visited by detachments of Stuart's daring cavalry. The army of Tennessee was tied to no special line of operations; it was embarrassed by no important point, such as Richmond requiring to be defended; it had thus greatly the advantage over the army of Virginia; and yet we have seen, and shall continue to see, that it was far inferiour in activity and enterprise to the latter, and that, while Gen. Lee was overthrowing every army that came against him, Bragg was idle, or constantly yielding up territory to a conquering foe. From March till June, in 1863, Gen. Bragg's forces remained idly stretching from Shelbyville to the right, while the Federals, [371] holding a line from Franklin to Woodbury, again and again, afforded opportunities of attack on detached masses which the dull Confederate commander never used. West of the Alleghany Mountains the war had travelled steadily southward to Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. In Mississippi we held the line of the Tallahatchie and the town of Vicksburg, while Grant threatened the northern portion of the State, and McClernand menaced Vicksburg. West of the Mississippi the war had been pushed to the banks of the Arkansas River, the Federals held Van Buren, and Hindman's weak and shifting tactics opposed an uncertain front to further advance of the enemy in this distant territory.

The great campaign of 1863 was to open in Virginia. There were especial reasons at Washington for an early resumption of the campaign. The Democratic party was gaining strength, in the absence of any grand success in the war; and the term of service of many of the Federal soldiers in Virginia was so near expiration that it was thought advisable to try again the issue of battle at a period somewhat earlier in the year than the date of former operations against Richmond. A change of commanders, which had come to be the usual preliminary of the resumption of Federal campaigns, was not omitted.1 Gen. Joe Hooker was raised from the [372] position of corps commander to that of general-in-chief, and appointed to take command of the fifth attempt against Richmond. He was an immense braggart. His popular designation was “Fighting Joe Hooker.” He had made himself famous in the newspapers by his fierce criticisms of McClellan's campaigns; had predicted certain capture of Richmond under his own leadership; and was just the man whose boastful confidence might kindle anew the hopes of the credulous people of the North.

The battle of Chancellorsville.

On the 27th of April Hooker began his grand movement over the Rappahannock. His great numerical force enabled him to divide his army, and yet to maintain his superiority at all points. His left wing, under Sedgwick, crossed at Fredericksburg, intending to attack and occupy the heights above the town, and seize the railway to Richmond. Meanwhile the stronger portion of his army crossed the river some miles above Fredericksburg, at the United States', Ely's, and Germania fords, and began to move toward Chancellorsville — the name of a place marked by a large house, formerly a tavern, and a few out-houses, about eleven miles above Fredericksburg, and about four miles south of the point of confluence of the Rapidan and the Rappahannock. On the 30th April, having got all his forces across the river, he issued a flaming address, announcing that “the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must ingloriously fly, or come out from behind their defences and give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him.” So confident was he of success that he declared that Lee's army was “the property of the Army of the Potomac.” Indeed, his chief concern appears to have been to cut off Lee's retreat; and as his army crossed the river, the cavalry was to move around the Confederate position, one body under Averill, marching on Gordonsville, the other under Stoneman, interposing between Lee's army and Richmond, to cut the lines of rail and destroy his communications. The disposition of forces was such that the Northern newspapers declared that it was at once conclusive of the fate of Lee and of the Confederacy itself. Never [373] were such strains of exultation heard in New York and Washington since the first field of Manassas. The common conversation was that the Confederates were between two fires; that Hooker had them just where he wanted them; that they could not retreat; that they would be annihilated; that “the rebellion” was nearly at an end.

Gen. Lee was certainly now in the most trying situation of the war. He was out-numbered by an enemy, whose force, compared with his own, was — as we have the precise statement of Gen. Lee himself — as ten to three; and he was threatened by two attacks, the inferiour of which-that of Sedgwick at Fredericksburg — was equal in numbers to his whole army. Despite desertions and the difficulties of the recruiting service, the strength of the Federal army operating in Northern Virginia had been kept up to about 150,000 men. Gen. Lee had less than 50,000 men. He had been compelled to detach nearly a third of the army with which he had fought at Fredericksburg to confront demonstrations of the enemy on the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina; and Longstreet had been sent to command the department which included Richmond and its vicinity, together with the State of North Carolina, placed under the immediate supervision of Gen. D. H. Hill.

There was nothing more remarkable about the great Confederate commander than his cheerful self-possession, his calm, antique courage in the most trying and terrible circumstances of life. There was no expression of uneasiness on his part; no sign of dismay in the calm, grand face; and the quiet and collected orders which he gave, alone indicated a movement almost unexampled in its daring to crush the enemy whose numbers had enveloped him. He watched the movement of Sedgwick at Fredericksburg, as well as the one higher up the river under Hooker, until lie had penetrated the enemy's design, and seen the necessity of making a rapid division of his own forces to confront him on two different fields.

On the 29th of April, Gen. Lee drew back his army in the direction of Chancellorsville, leaving Early's division to guard Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville he learned from Gen. Anderson, who, with two brigades-Posey's and Mahone's-had been guarding the upper fords of the river, that the main body of the Federal army was advancing from that direction, and threatened his left rear. A force nearly one hundred thousand strong was on what had formerly been the left rear of the Confederates and was now tile front. Taking from the account the forces left at Fredericksburg, Lee was out-numbered nearly three to one. His army consisted of Jackson's three divisions and two of Longstreet's former corps-McLaw's and Anderson's. He had in his rear Sedgwick's force, which equalled in strength his whole army; and it appeared, indeed, that lie would be crushed, or forced to retreat with both flanks exposed along the Richmond rail, which was already at the mercy of Stoneman's cavalry [374]

On the 1st of May Hooker ordered an advance to be made from Chancellorsville in the direction of Fredericksburg. At the close of the day his army held the ground from the neighbourhood of Banks' Ford to Chancellorsville, and thence with the right thrown back, covered the road to Germania Ford. But while Gen. Lee kept the enemy amused this day by several attacks and feints, preparations were in progress for a flank march, in which the terrible Stonewall Jackson was to try again the success of his favourite movements.

The flank march of Jackson commenced at night; his corps consisting of three divisions, under A. P. Hill, Rodes, and Trimble. He was directed to move by a road behind the line-of-battle to the road that led to Germania Ford, where the extreme right of the Federal army-Howard's corps --rested. The route lay through the Wilderness, a district of country covered with scrubby oaks and a thick, tangled undergrowth. Availing himself of its cover, Jackson marched around the right flank of Hooker's army, without that general having any knowledge of the critical movement which was in progress almost within reach of his guns. Near sunset of the 2d of May, he was in position at Wilderness Church. The two divisions of McLaw and Anderson kept up a succession of feints on Hooker's front, while Jackson, with stealthy and alert movement, prepared to fall like a raging tiger upon his flank.

But few hours of day-light were left when Jackson commenced his attack. It was sudden and furious. Marching rapidly from the direction of Germania Ford, he fell suddenly on Howard's corps in the forest. The yell of his soldiers was the only signal of attack. The whole corps of the enemy was broken; it retreated in confusion and dismay; in vain Hooker interposed himself to check the flight; his right wing was being fiercely driven down upon Anderson's and McLaw's sturdy veterans, and the fate of his army hung in a balance.

Presently there was a halt in the pursuit. The enemy had succeeded in rallying some of his artillery near a stone wall directly in the line of the retreat. Then Jackson, in company with a number of his own and a part of A. P. Hill's staff, rode forward to reconnoitre, and proceeded beyond the front line of skirmishers. When he had finished his observations, he rode back in the twilight to rejoin his men, that he might order a fresh attack. A North Carolina regiment mistook the party, as they galloped through the foliage, for the enemy. Some one cried out “Cavalry” “charge!” and immediately the regiment fired. Jackson fell, struck by three balls, two through the left arm, and another penetrating the palm of the right hand. He was placed on a litter; one of the bearers was shot down by the enemy's skirmishers; the General, falling, received a severe contusion of the side, and was for two hours nearly pulseless from the shock. For five minutes he lay actually within the line of the Federal [375] skirmishers, and under a heavy fire of artillery. Some of his men becoming aware of his danger, rushed forward, and plucked, from the terrible fire of artillery, the prostrate form of their beloved commander. He was placed in an ambulance, and carried to the field hospital at Wilderness Run.

With Jackson's fall the impetus of the Confederate attack ceased. Gen. Stuart, who succeeded to the command, renewed the fight at nine o'clock, and continued it until the enemy's right had been doubled in on his centre in and around Chancellorsville. But the fiery energy of Jackson was wanting to carry forward tie troops, and to make what was already a severe repulse of the enemy a terrible and irremediable disaster.

A messenger was despatched to Gen. Lee, with the intelligence of the wounding of his great lieutenant. He found the General on a bed of straw about four o'clock in the morning. He told him that Jackson was severely wounded, and that it had been his intention to press the enemy next day-Sunday--if he had not fallen. Gen. Lee quietly said, “These people shall be pressed to-day.” The grand, simple commander never had any other name for the enemy than “these people.” He rose from his bed of straw, partook of his simple fare of ham and cracker, sallied forth, and made such dispositions as rendered that Sabbath-day a blessed one for the Confederacy.

At day-break, on the 3d, the three divisions of Jackson's old corps advanced to the attack. Meanwhile Anderson's division was pushed forward by Gen. Lee to assault the strongly-entrenched position of the enemy in front of Chancellorsville. On one side the Federals were being forced back in the direction of Chancellorsville. On the other side Anderson's men pressed through the woods, over the fields, up the hills, into the very mouths of the enemy's guns, and forced him to take shelter behind a second line of entrenchments in rear of Chancellorsville. There were ladies at Hooker's headquarters, in the large house which gave the name to the battle-field. They were taken away by one of Hooker's staff, as the firing became hot. One of the ladies fainted. It was a forlorn sight to see that troupe passing through the Federal lines at such a time. Soon after they left, the house, which was a large and elegant structure, took fire, and burned to the ground. Hooker's headquarters were transferred to the rear, and his crippled army, surrounded on all sides, except toward the river, was anxious now only for retreat.

It was ten o'clock in the morning. The capture or destruction of Hooker's army now appeared certain. But just then news was received that Sedgwick, who had crossed the river at Fredericksburg, had taken Marye's Heights, which had been held by Barksdale's brigade, less than two thousand men, and six pieces of the Washington Artillery. The hill was flanked, and its brave defenders, who had held it against three [376] assaults, were cut off from their supports, and compelled to surrender Gen. Early, finding that Sedgwick had gained this position on his left, and was pressing forward his forces towards Chancellorsville, withdrew, and took up a position near Salem Church, about five miles from Fredericksburg, where he threw up some slight field-works.

The movement of Sedgwick made it necessary for Gen. Lee to arrest the pursuit of Hooker, and caused him to send back towards Fredericksburg the division of McLaw to support Early and check the enemy's advance. On the evening of the 3d, Sedgwick's advanced troops were driven back without difficulty. On the 4th the battle was renewed. The enemy was evidently attempting to establish communication with Hooker along the river road, and for this purpose had massed a heavy force against McLaw's left. A portion of Anderson's force was marched fifteen miles to his support; but Gen. Lee, who had come upon the field, having discovered the enemy's design, ordered Anderson to unite with Early, so as to attack that part of the enemy's line which he had weakened by his demonstration on McLaw, and thus threaten his communication with Fredericksburg. The combined attack was made just before sunset. Sedgwick's men hardly waited to receive it; they fled precipitately towards Banks' Ford; and during the night they recrossed the river in the condition of an utterly defeated and demoralized army.

Thus, on the night of the 4th of May ended the remarkable series of battles on the lines of the Rappahannock. There had been three distinct engagements: that of the Wilderness, where Jackson succeeded in turning the enemy's flank; that most properly called the battle of Chancellorsville, around which point the enemy centred and made his best fight; and that of Salem Church which closed with Sedgwick's rout and retreat across the river.

The enemy was now driven from every point around Fredericksburg, and it but remained to make short work of Hooker at United States Ford. That commander, cowed and hemmed in within his straitened lines by a few Confederate divisions, had scarcely fired a gun while Sedgwick's corps, a few miles off, was being overwhelmed and driven back in disgraceful confusion. He called a council of war, and determined to retreat. The night of the 5th afforded him the opportunity; there was a drenching storm of wind and rain; pontoons were laid; the several corps crossed the river; and the next morning the enemy's whole force was over the river, and on the march to its former camps at Falmouth.2 [377]

The loss of the enemy was terrible. We had taken nearly eight thousand prisoners; Northern accounts stated Sedgwick's loss at five thousand; that of Hooker in killed and wounded was probably twice as large; and but little is risked in putting all his losses at twenty-five thousand men. Gen. Lee's loss was less than ten thousand. He had won one of the most remarkable victories on record; illustrated the highest quality of generalship, the self-possession and readiness of a great commander, and confirmed a reputation now the first in war. Indeed, this reputation had not properly commenced in the Seven Days Battles around Richmond; for it was only when Lee moved out to the lines of the Rappahannock that there commenced the display of his great tactical abilities. He had now fought the most difficult and brilliant battle of the war. Amid all the achievements and wonders of his future career, Chancellorsville must ever remain the master-piece of his military life.

Now and then there were developed in the South certain facts and figures concerning the war, officially verified, and so unlike the stories of the newspaper and the printed catch-penny, that the public mind was startled from former convictions, and put on a new train of inquiry. This was especially so with reference to the unequal match of force in the war. The Southern people had a general impression that they were largely outnumbered in the contest; that the North was greatly superiour in men, material, and all the apparatus of conquest. But their notions of this inequality were vague, and in no instance came up to the full measure of [378] the Northern advantage in this respect. It was the policy of the Confederate Government to keep all military matters secret, and to give, even to our own people, exaggerated impressions of the strength of our forces in the field. Our armies were always popularly accounted much larger than they really were, and a pleasant delusion was maintained, until some occasion would bring out official figures, and shock the public with surprise Who would have supposed, until Beauregard's official figures were published, that the army of the First Manassas numbered less than thirty thousand men, and that five Confederate regiments on that field held in check, for two hours, a column of fifteen thousand Federal infantry? Who would have imagined, looking at the newspapers of the day, that Albert Sidney Johnston, who was popularly expected, in the first year of the war, to take Cincinnati, and to march to the Northern Lakes, never had more than twenty-odd thousand men to meet all the emergencies of the early campaign in Kentucky and Tennessee? Who would have believed, unless on the official authority of the great Confederate Chieftain himself, that Gen. Lee whipped “the finest army on the planet,” under Hooker, with less than one-third his force? These are matters of official history, and stand in sharp contrast to the swollen narratives of the newspaper, and in singular relations to the Northern assertion of martial prowess in the war.

While the great victory of Chancellorsville was causing joy and congratulation throughout the Confederacy, Gen. Stonewall Jackson lay dying at a small farm-house, a few miles from where he had led his last and most famous attack. No one had supposed that his wounds would prove mortal; it had already been announced from his physician that amputation had been decided upon, and he would probably very soon thereafter be in a condition to be removed to Richmond. But while preparations were being made there to receive the distinguished sufferer, there came the appalling news that an attack of pneumonia had supervened, and that there were no hopes of his recovery. He expired on Sunday, the eighth day of his suffering. He had declared: “If I live it will be for the best-and if I die, it will be for the best; God knows and directs all things for the best.” His last moments were mostly occupied with lively expressions of that trust and confidence in God, which had marked his life for many years, and which he had carried into all the details of his wonderful career. There were various reports of his last words. They were not religious ones. His last utterance in the delirium that preceded death was: “Tell Major Hawks to send forward provisions to the men. Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” And thus passed over the dark river and into eternal rest, the spirit of the great man, whose exploits had been amongst the most brilliant in the military history of the world, and whose character must ever remain an interesting subject for the student of mankind.


Character of “StonewallJackson.

There was probably no more ambitious man in the Southern Confederacy than “StonewallJackson. Tile vulgar mind thinks that it easily discovers those who are the ambitious men in a community. It readily designates as such those who aspire to office and public positions, who seek sensations, court notoriety in newspapers, and hold up their hands for the applause of the multitude. But ambition, in its true and noble sense, is very different from these coarse bids for popular favour. There is a class of apparently quiet minds which, choosing seclusion and mystery, and wearing an air of absence, or even misanthropy, moving in their daily walks with an appearance of profound unconcern, are yet living for history, and are daily and nightly consumed with the fires of ambition. It is this sort of ambition which cherishes and attempts ideals; which is founded on a deep and unconquerable self-esteem; and which is often haughtily and even grimly silent, from a consciousness of its own powers, or an ever present belief in its destiny.

Of such an order of ambition those who knew Gen. Jackson best declare that he was singularly possessed. He believed in his destiny, whatever religious name he chose to attach to that transcendental and ravishing sentiment; he was fond of repeating to his intimate friends that “mystery was the secret of success;” and because he went about his work with a silent and stern manner, that was no proof of the opinion of the populace, that he was simply a machine of conscientious motives, with no sentiment in his composition but that of duty.

It is not unfrequently the experience of truly great men, that they have to live through a period of utter misapprehension of their worth, and often of intense ridicule. Such was the painful experience of Gen. Jackson. At the Virginia Military School at Lexington, where he was a professor before the war, he was thought to be stupid and harmless, and he was often the butt of the academic wit of that institution. Col. Gillem, who taught tactics there, was taken to be the military genius of the place, and afterwards gave evidence of the correctness of this appreciation by actually losing, during the war, in the mountains of Northwestern Virginia the only regiment that he was ever trusted to command. At the battle of Manassas, despite the critical and splendid service which Jackson did there (for he stayed the retreat in the rear of the Robinson House, and in the subsequent charge pierced the enemy's centre), his stiff and odd figure drew upon him the squibs of all the newspaper correspondents on the field. His habit of twisting his head, and interpolating “Sir” in all his remarks was humorously described in the Charleston Mercury. At a [380] later period of his military career, when he made his terrible wintry march in 1861-2, from Winchester to Bath and Romney, and became involved in differences with Gen. Loring, it was actually reported that he was insane. A colonel came to Richmond with the report that Jackson had gone mad; that his mania was that a familiar spirit had taken possession of a portion of his body; and that he was in the habit of walking by himself and holding audible conversations with a mysterious being.

It was about this time that Gen. Jackson came under the fitful cloud of President Davis' displeasure; and he was so much affected by the course of the Richmond authorities towards him in his affair with Loring, that, at one time, he determined to resign. The extreme sensibility of his nature, and his ardent ambition, were unmasked in the letters he wrote his wife, alluding to the then probable close of his military career, and submitting to what he supposed “the will of God” in this abrupt termination of his hopes. But it was not decreed by Providence that the Confederate cause should then lose the services of Jackson, and its chief ornament be plucked from it, and its great pillar of strength cast down through a paltry official embroilment in Richmond. By the earnest persuasions of Governor Letcher and others, Gen. Jackson was induced to withdraw his letter of resignation; and that sword which might have been dropped in an obscure quarrel was yet to carve out the most brilliant name in the war.

The fame of Jackson was first secured, and permanently erected in the popular heart, by his splendid and ever-memorable campaign in the valley of Virginia, in the spring of 1862. In that campaign, as we have seen, in the period of three weeks, he fought four battles; recovered Winchester; captured four thousand prisoners; secured several million dollars' worth of stores; chased Banks' army out of Virginia and across the Potomac, and accomplished a list of deeds that threw the splendour of sunlight over the fortunes of the Confederacy, and broke, at the critical moment, the heaviest shadows of defeat and misfortune that had so far befallen them. In the Seven Days Battles the name of Jackson again rose like a star. And yet it was to gather new effulgence, when the names of Second Manassas and the Wilderness were to be inscribed, alike on the banners of the Confederacy and the escutcheon of his own fame.

Jackson's intense religious character has naturally come in for a large share of public admiration and curiosity. To his merits as a commander, he added the virtues of an active, humble, consistent Christian, restraining profanity in his camp, welcoming army colporteurs, distributing tracts, and anxious to have every regiment in his army supplied with a chaplain. Prayer-meetings and “revivals” were common occurrences in his camp, and in these he was quite as active and conspicuous as in the storm and action of battle. It was said that he treated the itinerant preachers and [381] “circuit-riders” who flocked to his camp with much more distinction than any other visitors; and the story is told how, on one occasion, when the horse driven by one of these itinerants balked at a hill, Jackson himself insisted upon leading and assisting the animal up the acclivity in the astonished sight of his whole army.

His nature was epicene. We but seldom see a combination of feminine tenderness with a really strong will; but when we do, we see masked iron in the man, and discover the rarest and loftiest type of greatness. Such a combination was most sincere and striking in Jackson. An authentic anecdote is told of him, illustrating his extreme tenderness to whatever was weak or helpless. Stopping at the house of a friend, one wintry night, he showed much concern for a little delicate girl of the family, and counselled them to see that her bed was comfortable. After the family had retired, Jackson was seen to leave his chamber and approach the bedside of the little girl, where for some moments he busied himself tucking the bedclothes around her, and making the little creature as snug as possible.--The large, rough hand that did this gentle task, was the same that wielded the thunderbolt of battle, and that cleft like flaming lightning the hosts of the Wilderness.

Jackson's habits in the field were those of almost superhuman endurance. Neither heat nor cold appeared to make the slightest impression upon him. He cared nothing for good quarters and dainty fare. He often slept on the ground, wrapped in his blanket. His vigilance was marvellous; he never seemed to sleep; lie let nothing pass without his personal scrutiny. His active determination and grim energy in the field, were scarcely to be expected from one who, in preceding years, had been a quiet professor in a college of youths. As for the rapidity of his marches, that was something portentous.3 [382]

The London Times, a journal whose judgments of men were taken in the contemporary world almost as the sentences of history, frequently compared Jackson to Napoleon. “He was,” said this great organ of European opinion, “one of the most consummate Generals that this century has produced. ... That mixture of daring and judgment, which is the mark of ‘ Heaven-born’ Generals distinguished him beyond any man of his time. Although the young Confederacy has been illustrated by a number of eminent soldiers, yet the applause and devotion of his countrymen, confirmed by the judgment of European nations, have given the first place to Jackson. The military feats he accomplished moved the minds of the people with astonishment, which it is only given to the highest genius to produce. The blows he struck at the enemy were as terrible and decisive as those of Bonaparte himself.”

There can be no doubt in history of the military genius of Jackson. There is a certain ignorant idea of genius as a thoughtless and careless disposition of mind, which gets its inspirations without trouble, and never descends to actual labour. Such was not the genius of Jackson; and such is not true genius. He was an active, laborious thinker; he wrestled with great thoughts; he had his silent calculations; but having once apprehended the true thought, and got to a point in his meditations, he acted with a rapidity, a decision, and a confidence, that scorned hesitation, refused longer to think, and took the appearance of impetuous inspiration.

Danger, in a certain sense, intoxicated him. But it did not produce that intoxication which confuses the mind, or makes it giddy with a crowd of images. It was that sort of intoxication which strings the nerve, stimulates the brain, concentrates the faculties, and gives a consciousness of power that is for the moment irresistible. In battle, he was not much in motion; but his eyes glowed; his face was blazoned with the fire of the conflict; his massive jaw stiffened; his voice rang out sharp and clear; every order and remark was as quick and pertinent as if it had been studied for hours. One could scarcely recognize in this figure of intense activity, all alive, with every faculty at play, the man who used to occupy himself with rambling soliloquies in the rear of his tent; who presented the appearance of an inanimate figure-head in his pew at the Presbyterian [383] church in Lexington; and who often got up out of his camp-bed at night to spend hours in silent prayer and meditation.

It may readily be imagined that the wonderful career of Jackson and his personal eccentricities drew upon him a crowd of apocryphal anecdotes in the newspapers. Some of them were very absurd. His person was as variously represented in newspaper paragraphs as if, instead of being familiar to thousands, he inhabited the dim outlines of another century. One journal described him as an absurdly ugly man with red lair; another gave his portrait as that of an immense brain, and features on which nature had stamped the patent of nobility. One newspaper correspondent declared that he always wore the brim of his cap on the middle of his nose. Another declared that he was an execrable rider, and looked like a loose jumping-jack on horseback.

There is a popular disposition to discover something curious or grotesque in great men. But there was really but little of this sort to be discovered in Jackson, and scarcely anything that could be pointed out as objects of vulgar curiosity. It is true his figure was queer and clumsy; but the features of his face were moulded in forms of simple grandeur; and its expression was as unaffected as that of Lee himself. lie was not an ugly man. The vulgar might call him such ; and the newspaper passion for caricature did so represent him. Nor did lie have in face or figure those marks which the silly admiration of woman expects to find in military heroes. He did not wear long, greasy hair falling over his shoulders; he did not stand in dramatic attitudes; he did not keep his eyes unnaturally stretched; he did not thrust out his chest, as if anxious to impose himself upon public attention. His features were singularly simple and noble. A broad forehead, rising prominently over his eyes, and retreating at that easy angle which gives a certain majesty to the face, covered a massive brain; his nostrils were unusually large; his jaw heavy and well-set; and, although his features were coarse, they were combined in that expression of dignity and power which, to the intelligent and appreciative, even among women, is the greatest charm of tie masculine face.

The death of Jackson cast a shadow on the fortunes of the Confederacy, that reached to the catastrophe of the war. It was not only a loss to his country; it was a calamity to the world: a subtraction from the living generation of genius: the extinction of a great light in the temples of Christianity. The proposition was eagerly made in the South to erect to his memory a stately monument. The State of Virginia sent an artist to Europe to execute his statue. Thousands followed him to the grave, and consecrated it with tributes of affection and the testimonies of devotion. Who, then, regarding this fervour of admiration and gratitude, could have supposed that the Southern mind could ever [384] become so chilled in any change of events, or in any mutation of fortune, as to forget alike its debts of gratitude and its objects of pride in the glorious past; and that the time could ever come when the household effects of Stonewall Jackson would be sold under the hammer of an auctioneer, and the family of this man committed to the trials and chances of poverty!

1 Mr. Headley, a Northern authour, in his interesting work, “The campaigns of Sherman and Grant,” makes the following very just commentary on the Northern mania for a “change of commanders.” Referring to the achievements of these two popular heroes of the war, he says:

It is not to be supposed that they were the only two great generals the war had produced, or the only ones who were able to bring it to a successful issue. It is an errour to imagine, as many do, that the Government kept casting about for men fit to do the work these men did, and, after long searching, at length found them. Several were displaced, who would have, doubtless, succeeded in bringing us ultimate victory, had they been allowed a fair trial. The errour was in supposing that men, capable of controlling such vast armies, and carrying on a war of such magnitude and covering almost a continent in its scope, were to be found ready-made. They were not to leap forth, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter, completely panoplied and ready for the service to which they were determined. A war of such magnitude, and covering the territories that ours did, would have staggered the genius of Napoleon, or the skill of Wellington, even at the close of their long experience and training. To expect, therefore, that officers, who had never led ten thousand men to battle, were suddenly to become capable of wielding half a million, was absurd. Both the army and the leaders, as well as the nation, had to grow by experience to the vastness of the undertaking. A mighty military genius, capable at once of comprehending and controlling the condition of things, would have upset the government in six months. Trammelled, confined, and baffled by “ ignorance and unbelief,” it would have taken matters into its own hand. Besides, such prodigies do not appear every century. We were children in such a complicated and wide-sweeping struggle; and, like children, were compelled to learn to walk by many a stumble. Greene, next to Washington, was the greatest general our revolutionary war produced; yet, in almost his first essay, he lost Fort Washington, with its four thousand men, and seriously crippled his great leader. But Washington had the sagacity to discern his military ability beneath his failure, and still gave him his confidence. To a thinking man, that was evidently the only way for us to get a competent general-one capable of planning and carrying out a great campaign. Here was our vital errour. The Government kept throwing dice for able commanders. It is true that experience will not make a great man out of a naturally weak one; but it is equally true that without it, a man of great natural military capacity will not be equal to vast responsibilities and combinations. Our experience proved this; for both Grant and Sherman came very near sharing the fate of many that preceded them. Nothing but the President's friendship and tenacity saved the former after the battle of Pittsburgh Landing. His overthrow was determined on; while the latter was removed from the department of Kentucky, as a crazy man. Great by nature, they were fortunately kept where they could grow to the new and strange condition of things, and the magnitude of the struggle into which we had been thrown. If the process of changing commanders the moment they did not keep pace with the extravagant expectations of the country, and equally extravagant predictions of the Government, had been continued, we should have been floundering to this day amid chaos and uncertainty.

2 It is curious to notice the hardy falsehoods of official dispatches. Although Hooker had sustained one of the worst defeats in the war, he issued the following rubbish in a congratulatory address (!) to his army:

General order, no. 49.

The Major-General Commanding tenders to the army his congratulations on its achievements of the last seven days. If it has not accomplished all that was expected, the reasons are well-known to the army. It is sufficient to say, that they were of a character not to be foreseen or prevented by human sagacity or resources.

In withdrawing from the south bank of the Rappahannock before delivering a general battle to our adversaries, the army has given renewed evidence of its confidence in itself and its fidelity to the principles it represents.

By fighting at a disadvantage, we would have been recreant to our trust, to ourselves, to our cause, and to our country. Professedly loyal and conscious of its strength, the Army of the Potomac will give or decline battle whenever its interests or honour may command it.

By the celerity and secrecy of our movements, our advance and passage of the river was undisputed, and on our withdrawal not a rebel dared to follow us. The events of the last week may well cause the heart of every officer and soldier of the army to swell with pride.

We have added new laurels to our former renown. We have made long marches, crossed rivers, surprised the enemy in his entrenchments, and wherever we have fought we have inflicted heavier blows than those we have received.

We have taken from the enemy 5,000 prisoners and fifteen colours, captured seven pieces of artillery, and placed hors de combat 18,000 of our foe's chosen troops.

We have destroyed his depots, filled with vast amounts of stores, damaged his communications, captured prisoners within the fortifications of his capital, and filled his ccuntry with fear and consternation.

We have no other regret than that caused by the loss of our brave companions, and in this we are consoled by the conviction that they have fallen in the holiest cause ever submitted to the arbitration of battle.

By command of Major-General Hooker, S. Williams, Assistant-Adjt.-General.

3 An officer on the staff of Jackson, at the time he was ordered to the Shenandoah Valley, writes as follows, in a pleasant private letter, of his experiences of the campaign, and of the peculiarities of the commander:

When we were ordered up the Valley with old Jackson, it was considered to be a source of congratulation to all for going into active service; but, believe me, I would have willingly gone back into winter-quarters again after a week's trial, for Jackson is the greatest marcher in the world. When we first moved up here, our orders were for a march to Charlestown; next day we moved back to Winchester; in a few days again back to Charlestown; and thence, from one place to another, until at last I began to imagine that we were commanded by some peripatetic philosophical madman, whose forte was pedestrianism. With little or no baggage, we are a roving, hungry, hardy lot of fellows. “ Stonewall” may be a very fine old gentleman, and an honest, good-tempered, industrious man, but I should admire him much more in a state of rest than continually seeing him moving in front. And such a dry old stick, too! As for uniform, he has none-his wardrobe isn't worth a dollar; and his horse is quite in keeping, being a poor, lean animal, of little spirit or activity. And don't he keep his aides moving about! Thirty miles' ride at night through the mud is nothing of a job; and if they don't come up to time, I'd as soon face the devil, for Jackson takes no excuses when duty is on hand. He is solemn and thoughtful, speaks but little, and always in a calm, decided tone; and from what he says there is no appeal, for he seems to know every hole and corner of this valley as if he had made it, or, at least, as if it had been designed for his own use. He knows all the distances, all the roads, even the cow-paths through the woods, and goat-tracks along the hills. I have frequently seen him approach in the dead of night, and enter into conversations with sentinels, and ride off through the darkness. In my opinion, Jackson will assuredly make his mark in this war, for his untiring industry and eternal watchfulness must tell upon a numerous enemy unacquainted with the country, and incommoded by large baggage-trains.

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