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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