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American Heros

Bennington
We are but warriors for the working-day; Our gayne...

Daniel Boone And The Founding Of Kentucky
... Boone lived hunting up to ninety; And, what's s...

Farragut At Mobile Bay
Ha, old ship, do they thrill, The brave two hundre...

George Rogers Clark And The Conquest Of The Northwest
Have the elder races halted? Do they droop and end the...

Gouverneur Morris
GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. PARIS. AUGUST 10, 1792. Justum et ...

The Flag-bearer
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;...

The Cruise Of The Wasp
A crash as when some swollen cloud Cracks o'er th...

Lieutenant Cushing And The Ram Albemarle
God give us peace! Not such as lulls to sleep, But...

The Battle Of Trenton
And such they are--and such they will be found: No...

The General Armstrong Privateer
We have fought such a fight for a day and a night As m...

John Quincy Adams And The Right Of Petition
He rests with the immortals; his journey has been long: ...

Hampton Roads
Then far away to the south uprose A little feathe...

Robert Gould Shaw
Brave, good, and true, I see him stand before me n...

Washington
The brilliant historian of the English people [*] has written...

King's Mountain
Our fortress is the good greenwood, Our tent the ...

Lincoln
O captain. My captain. Our fearful trip is done; T...

The Charge At Gettysburg
For the Lord On the whirlwind is abroad; I...

General Grant And The Vicksburg Campaign
What flag is this you carry Along the sea and sho...

Sheridan At Cedar Creek
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage, And taught...

Charles Russell Lowell
Wut's wurds to them whose faith an' truth On war'...



The Death Of Stonewall Jackson






Like a servant of the Lord, with his bible and his sword,
Our general rode along us, to form us for the fight.
--Macaulay.


The Civil War has left, as all wars of brother against brother must
leave, terrible and heartrending memories; but there remains as an
offset the glory which has accrued to the nation by the countless deeds
of heroism performed by both sides in the struggle. The captains and the
armies that, after long years of dreary campaigning and bloody, stubborn
fighting, brought the war to a close, have left us more than a reunited
realm. North and South, all Americans, now have a common fund of
glorious memories. We are the richer for each grim campaign, for each
hard-fought battle. We are the richer for valor displayed alike by
those who fought so valiantly for the right, and by those who, no less
valiantly, fought for what they deemed the right. We have in us nobler
capacities for what is great and good because of the infinite woe and
suffering, and because of the splendid ultimate triumph. We hold that it
was vital to the welfare, not only of our people on this continent, but
of the whole human race, that the Union should be preserved and slavery
abolished; that one flag should fly from the Great Lakes to the Rio
Grande; that we should all be free in fact as well as in name, and that
the United States should stand as one nation--the greatest nation on the
earth. But we recognize gladly that, South as well as North, when the
fight was once on, the leaders of the armies, and the soldiers whom they
led, displayed the same qualities of daring and steadfast courage, of
disinterested loyalty and enthusiasm, and of high devotion to an ideal.

The greatest general of the South was Lee, and his greatest lieutenant
was Jackson. Both were Virginians, and both were strongly opposed to
disunion. Lee went so far as to deny the right of secession, while
Jackson insisted that the South ought to try to get its rights inside
the Union, and not outside. But when Virginia joined the Southern
Confederacy, and the war had actually begun, both men cast their lot
with the South.

It is often said that the Civil War was in one sense a repetition of
the old struggle between the Puritan and the Cavalier; but Puritan and
Cavalier types were common to the two armies. In dash and light-hearted
daring, Custer and Kearney stood as conspicuous as Stuart and Morgan;
and, on the other hand, no Northern general approached the Roundhead
type--the type of the stern, religious warriors who fought under
Cromwell--so closely as Stonewall Jackson. He was a man of intense
religious conviction, who carried into every thought and deed of his
daily life the precepts of the faith he cherished. He was a tender and
loving husband and father, kindhearted and gentle to all with whom he
was brought in contact; yet in the times that tried men's souls, he
proved not only a commander of genius, but a fighter of iron will and
temper, who joyed in the battle, and always showed at his best when
the danger was greatest. The vein of fanaticism that ran through his
character helped to render him a terrible opponent. He knew no such word
as falter, and when he had once put his hand to a piece of work, he did
it thoroughly and with all his heart. It was quite in keeping with his
character that this gentle, high-minded, and religious man should, early
in the contest, have proposed to hoist the black flag, neither take nor
give quarter, and make the war one of extermination. No such policy was
practical in the nineteenth century and in the American Republic; but it
would have seemed quite natural and proper to Jackson's ancestors, the
grim Scotch-Irish, who defended Londonderry against the forces of the
Stuart king, or to their forefathers, the Covenanters of Scotland, and
the Puritans who in England rejoiced at the beheading of King Charles I.

In the first battle in which Jackson took part, the confused struggle at
Bull Run, he gained his name of Stonewall from the firmness with which
he kept his men to their work and repulsed the attack of the Union
troops. From that time until his death, less than two years afterward,
his career was one of brilliant and almost uninterrupted success;
whether serving with an independent command in the Valley, or acting
under Lee as his right arm in the pitched battles with McClellan, Pope,
and Burnside. Few generals as great as Lee have ever had as great a
lieutenant as Jackson. He was a master of strategy and tactics, fearless
of responsibility, able to instil into his men his own intense ardor
in battle, and so quick in his movements, so ready to march as well as
fight, that his troops were known to the rest of the army as the "foot
cavalry."

In the spring of 1863 Hooker had command of the Army of the Potomac.
Like McClellan, he was able to perfect the discipline of his forces
and to organize them, and as a division commander he was better
than McClellan, but he failed even more signally when given a great
independent command. He had under him 120,000 men when, toward the
end of April, he prepared to attack Lee's army, which was but half as
strong.

The Union army lay opposite Fredericksburg, looking at the fortified
heights where they had received so bloody a repulse at the beginning of
the winter. Hooker decided to distract the attention of the Confederates
by letting a small portion of his force, under General Sedgwick, attack
Fredericksburg, while he himself took the bulk of the army across the
river to the right hand so as to crush Lee by an assault on his flank.
All went well at the beginning, and on the first of May Hooker found
himself at Chancellorsville, face-to-face with the bulk of Lee's
forces; and Sedgwick, crossing the river and charging with the utmost
determination, had driven out of Fredericksburg the Confederate division
of Early; but when Hooker found himself in front of Lee he hesitated,
faltered instead of pushing on, and allowed the consummate general to
whom he was opposed to take the initiative.

Lee fully realized his danger, and saw that his only chance was, first
to beat back Hooker, and then to turn and overwhelm Sedgwick, who was in
his rear. He consulted with Jackson, and Jackson begged to be allowed
to make one of his favorite flank attacks upon the Union army; attacks
which could have been successfully delivered only by a skilled and
resolute general, and by troops equally able to march and to fight. Lee
consented, and Jackson at once made off. The country was thickly covered
with a forest of rather small growth, for it was a wild region, in which
there was still plenty of game. Shielded by the forest, Jackson marched
his gray columns rapidly to the left along the narrow country roads
until he was square on the flank of the Union right wing, which was held
by the Eleventh Corps, under Howard. The Union scouts got track of the
movement and reported it at headquarters, but the Union generals thought
the Confederates were retreating; and when finally the scouts brought
word to Howard that he was menaced by a flank attack he paid no heed to
the information, and actually let his whole corps be surprised in broad
daylight. Yet all the while the battle was going on elsewhere, and
Berdan's sharpshooters had surrounded and captured a Georgia regiment,
from which information was received showing definitely that Jackson was
not retreating, and must be preparing to strike a heavy blow.

The Eleventh Corps had not the slightest idea that it was about to be
assailed. The men were not even in line. Many of them had stacked their
muskets and were lounging about, some playing cards, others cooking
supper, intermingled with the pack-mules and beef cattle. While they
were thus utterly unprepared Jackson's gray-clad veterans pushed
straight through the forest and rushed fiercely to the attack. The first
notice the troops of the Eleventh Corps received did not come from the
pickets, but from the deer, rabbits and foxes which, fleeing from their
coverts at the approach of the Confederates, suddenly came running over
and into the Union lines. In another minute the frightened pickets came
tumbling back, and right behind them came the long files of charging,
yelling Confederates; With one fierce rush Jackson's men swept over
the Union lines, and at a blow the Eleventh Corps became a horde of
panicstruck fugitives. Some of the regiments resisted for a few moments,
and then they too were carried away in the flight.

For a while it seemed as if the whole army would be swept off; but
Hooker and his subordinates exerted every effort to restore order. It
was imperative to gain time so that the untouched portions of the army
could form across the line of the Confederate advance.

Keenan's regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry, but four hundred sabers
strong, was accordingly sent full against the front of the ten thousand
victorious Confederates.

Keenan himself fell, pierced by bayonets, and the charge was repulsed
at once; but a few priceless moments had been saved, and Pleasanton had
been given time to post twenty-two guns, loaded with double canister,
where they would bear upon the enemy.

The Confederates advanced in a dense mass, yelling and cheering, and the
discharge of the guns fairly blew them back across the work's they had
just taken. Again they charged, and again were driven back; and when the
battle once more began the Union reinforcements had arrived.

It was about this time that Jackson himself was mortally wounded. He had
been leading and urging on the advance of his men, cheering them with
voice and gesture, his pale face flushed with joy and excitement,
while from time to time as he sat on his horse he took off his hat and,
looking upward, thanked heaven for the victory it had vouchsafed him.
As darkness drew near he was in the front, where friend and foe were
mingled in almost inextricable confusion. He and his staff were fired
at, at close range, by the Union troops, and, as they turned, were fired
at again, through a mistake, by the Confederates behind them. Jackson
fell, struck in several places. He was put in a litter and carried back;
but he never lost consciousness, and when one of his generals complained
of the terrible effect of the Union cannonade he answered:

"You must hold your ground."

For several days he lingered, hearing how Lee beat Hooker, in detail,
and forced him back across the river. Then the old Puritan died. At the
end his mind wandered, and he thought he was again commanding in battle,
and his last words were.

"Let us cross over the river and rest in the shade."

Thus perished Stonewall Jackson, one of the ablest of soldiers and one
of the most upright of men, in the last of his many triumphs.





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Previous: The Flag-bearer



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