Stonewall Jackson's Winter Quarters

 

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Stonewall Jackson Free Online Books | Stonewall Jackson in Civil War | Stonewall Jackson Biography | Stonewall Jackson Obituary | Stonewall Jackson's Last Words | Stonewall Jackson Birthday | Stonewall Jackson Quotes

STONEWALL JACKSON
Chapter XXII
Winter Quarters
Stonewall Jackson Index | Stonewall Jackson at West Point | Stonewall Jackson and Mexican War | Stonewall Jackson Lexington | Stonewall Jackson and Secession | Stonewall Jackson and Harper's Ferry | Stonewall Jackson at Battle of Bull Run | Stonewall Jackson at Romney | Stonewall Jackson at Kernstown | Battle of McDowell | Battle of Winchester | Battle of Cross Keys and Port Republic | Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign | The Seven Days Battle | Battle of Frayser's Farm and Malvern Hill | Battle of Cedar Run | Second Battle of Bull Run | Battle of Second Bull Run Conclusion | Battle of Harper's Ferry | Battle of Sharpsburg | Battle of Fredericksburg | The Army of Northern Virginia | Stonewall Jackson's Winter Quarters | Battle of Chancellorsville | Battle of Chancellorsville Conclusion


1863   During the long interval which intervened between the battle of Fredericksburg and the next campaign, Jackson employed himself in preparing the reports of his battles, which had been called for by the Commander-in-Chief. They were not compiled in their entirety by his own hand. He was no novice at literary composition, and his pen, as his letter-book shows, was not that of an unready writer. He had a good command of language, and that power of clear and concise expression which every officer in command of a large force, a position naturally entailing a large amount of confidential correspondence, must necessarily possess. But the task now set him was one of no ordinary magnitude. Since the battle of Kernstown, the report of which had been furnished in April 1862, the time had been too fully occupied to admit of the crowded events being placed on record, and more than one-half of the division, brigade, and regimental commanders who had been engaged in the operations of the period had been killed. Nor, even now, did his duties permit him the necessary leisure to complete the work without assistance. On his requisition, therefore, Colonel Charles Faulkner, who had been United States Minister to France before the war, was attached to his staff for the purpose of collecting the reports of the subordinate commanders, and combining them in the proper form. The rough drafts were carefully gone over by the general. Every sentence was weighed; and everything that might possibly convey a wrong impression was at once rejected; evidence was called to clear up disputed points;

A MODEL REPORT  380

no inferences or suppositions were allowed to stand; truth was never permitted to be sacrificed to effect; superlatives were rigorously excluded,1 and the narratives may be unquestionably accepted as an accurate relation of the facts. Many stirring passages were added by the general’s own pen; and the praise bestowed upon the troops, both officers and men, is couched in the warmest terms. Yet much was omitted. Jackson had a rooted objection to represent the motives of his actions, or to set forth the object of his movements. In reply to a remonstrance that those who came after him would be embarrassed by the absence of these explanations, and that his fame would suffer, he said: “The men who come after me must act for themselves; and as to the historians who speak of the movements of my command, I do not concern myself greatly as to what they may say.” To judge, then, from the reports, Jackson himself had very little to do with his success; indeed, were they the only evidence available, it would be difficult to ascertain whether the more brilliant manœuvres were ordered by himself or executed on the initiative of others. But in this he was perfectly consistent. When the publisher of an illustrated periodical wrote to him, asking him for his portrait and some notes of his battles as the basis of a sketch, he replied that he had no likeness of himself, and had done nothing worthy of mention. It is not without interest, in this connection, to note that the Old Testament supplied him with a pattern for his reports, just as it supplied him, as he often declared, with precepts and principles applicable to every military emergency. After he was wounded, enlarging one morning on his favourite topic of practical religion, he turned to the staff officer in attendance, Lieutenant Smith, and asked him with a smile: “Can you tell me where the Bible gives generals a model for their official reports of battles?” The aide-de-camp answered, laughing, that it never entered his mind to think of looking for such a thing

1  The report of Sharpsburg, which Jackson had not yet revised at the time of his death, is not altogether free from exaggeration.

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in the Scriptures. “Nevertheless,” said the general, “there are such; and excellent models, too. Look, for instance, at the narrative of Joshua’s battles with the Amalekites; there you have one. It has clearness, brevity, modesty; and it traces the victory to its right source, the blessing of God.”

The early spring of 1863 was undoubtedly one of the happiest seasons of a singularly happy life. Jackson’s ambition, if the desire for such rank that would enable him to put the powers within him to the best use may be so termed, was fully gratified. The country lad who, one-and-twenty years ago, on his way to West Point, had looked on the green hills of Virginia from the Capitol at Washington, could hardly have anticipated a higher destiny than that which had befallen him. Over the hearts and wills of thirty thousand magnificent soldiers, the very flower of Southern manhood, his empire was absolute; and such dominion is neither the heritage of princes nor within the reach of wealth. The most trusted lieutenant of his great commander, the strong right arm with which he had executed his most brilliant enterprises, he shared with him the esteem and admiration not only of the army but of the whole people of the South. The name he had determined, in his lonely boyhood, to bring back to honour already ranked with those of the Revolutionary heroes. Even his enemies, for the brave men at the front left rancour to the politicians, were not proof against the attraction of his great achievements. A friendly intercourse, not always confined to a trade of coffee for tobacco, existed between the outposts; “Johnnies” and “Yanks” often exchanged greetings across the Rappahannock; and it is related that one day when Jackson rode along the river, and the Confederate troops ran together, as was their custom, to greet him with a yell, the Federal pickets, roused by the sudden clamour, crowded to the bank, and shouted across to ask the cause. “General Stonewall Jackson,” was the proud reply of the grey-coated sentry. Immediately, to his astonishment, the cry, “Hurrah for Stonewall Jackson!” rang out from the Federal ranks, and the voices of North

A MODEL REPORT  382

and South, prophetic of a time to come, mingled in acclamation of a great American.

The situation of the army, although the winter was unusually severe, was not without its compensations. The country was covered with snow, and storms were frequent; rations were still scarce,1 for the single line of badly laid rails, subjected to the strain of an abnormal traffic, formed a precarious means of transport; every spring and pond was frozen; and the soldiers shivered beneath their scanty coverings.2 Huts, however, were in process of erection, and the goodwill of the people did something to supply the deficiencies of the commissariat.3 The homes of Virginia were stripped, and many—like Jackson himself, whose blankets had already been sent from Lexington to his old brigade—ordered their carpets to be cut up into rugs and distributed amongst the men. But neither cold nor hunger could crush the spirit of the troops. The bivouacs were never merrier than on the bare hills and in the dark pine-woods which looked down on the ruins and the graves of Fredericksburg. Picket duty was

1  On January 23 the daily ration was a quarter of a pound of beef, and one-fifth of a pound of sugar was ordered to be issued in addition, but there was no sugar! Lee to Davis, O.R., vol. xxi, p. 1110. In the Valley, during the autumn, the ration had been one and one-eighth pound of flour, and one and a quarter pounds of beef. On March 27 the ration was eighteen ounces of flour, and four ounces of indifferent bacon, with occasional issues of rice, sugar, or molasses. Symptoms of scurvy were appearing, and to supply the place of vegetables each regiment was directed to send men daily to gather sassafras buds, wild onions, garlic, etc., etc. Still “the men are cheerful,” writes Lee, “and I receive no complaints.” O.R., vol. xxv, part ii, p. 687. On April 17 the ration had been increased by ten pounds of rice to every 100 men about every third day, with a few peas and dried fruits occasionally. O.R., vol. xxv, part ii, p. 730.
2  On January 19, 1,200 pairs of shoes and 400 or 500 pairs of blankets were forwarded for issue to men without either in D. H. Hill’s division, O.R., vol. xxi, p. 1097. In the Louisiana brigade on the same date, out of 1,500 men, 400 had no covering for their feet whatever. A large number had not a particle of underclothing, shirts, socks, or drawers; overcoats were so rare as to be a curiosity; the 5th Regiment could not drill for want of shoes; the 8th was almost unfit for duty from the same cause; the condition of the men’s feet, from long exposure, was horrible, and the troops were almost totally unprovided with cooking utensils. O.R., vol. xxi, p. 1098.
3  O.R., vol. xxi, p. 1098.

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light, for the black waters of the great river formed a secure barrier against attack; and if the men’s stomachs were empty, they could still feast their eyes on a charming landscape. “To the right and left the wooded range extended towards Fredericksburg on the one hand, and Port Royal on the other; in front, the far-stretching level gave full sweep to the eye; and at the foot of its forest-clad bluffs, or by the margin of undulating fields, the Rappahannock flowed calmly to the sea. Old mansions dotted this beautiful land—for beautiful it was in spite of the chill influences of winter, with its fertile meadows, its picturesque woodlands, and its old roads skirted by long lines of shadowy cedars.”1

The headquarters of the Second Army Corps were established at Moss Neck, on the terrace above the Rappahannock, eleven miles below Fredericksburg. After the retreat of the Federals to Falmouth, the Confederate troops had reoccupied their former positions, and every point of passage between Fredericksburg and Port Royal was strongly intrenched and closely watched. At Moss Neck Jackson was not only within easy reach of his divisions, but was more comfortably housed than had usually been the case. A hunting-lodge which stood on the lawn of an old and picturesque mansion-house, the property of a gentleman named Corbin, was placed at his disposal—he had declined the offer of rooms in the house itself lest he should trespass on the convenience of its inmates; and to show the peculiar constitution of the Confederate army, an anecdote recorded by his biographers is worth quoting. After his first interview with Mrs. Corbin, he passed out to the gate, where a cavalry orderly who had accompanied him was holding his horse. “Do you approve of your accommodation, General?” asked the courier. “Yes, sir, I have decided to make my quarters here.” “I am Mr. Corbin, sir,” said the soldier, “and I am very pleased.”

The lower room of the lodge, hung with trophies of the chase, was both his bedroom and his office; while a large tent, pitched on the grass outside, served as a messroom

1  Cooke, p. 389.

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for his military family; and here for three long months, until near the end of March, he rested from the labour of his campaigns. The Federal troops, on the snow-clad heights across the river, remained idle in their camps, slowly recovering from the effects of their defeat on the fields of Fredericksburg; the pickets had ceased to bicker; the gunboats had disappeared, and “all was quiet on the Rappahannock.” Many of the senior officers in the Confederate army took advantage of the lull in operations to visit their homes; but, although his wife urged him to do the same, Jackson steadfastly refused to absent himself even for a few days from the front. In November, to his unbounded delight, a daughter had been born to him. “To a man of his extreme domesticity, and love for children,” says his wife, “this was a crowning happiness; and yet, with his great modesty and shrinking from publicity, he requested that he should not receive the announcement by telegraph, and when it came to him by letter he kept the glad tidings to himself—leaving his staff and those around him in the camp to hear of it from others. This was to him ‘a joy with which a stranger could not intermeddle,’ and from which even his own hand could not lift the veil of sanctity. His letters were full of longing to see his little Julia; for by this name, which had been his mother’s, he had desired her to be christened, saying, ‘My mother was mindful of me when I was a helpless, fatherless child, and I wish to commemorate her now.’ ”

“How thankful I am,” he wrote, “to our kind Heavenly Father for having spared my precious wife and given us a little daughter! I cannot tell how gratified I am, nor how much I wish I could be with you and see my two darlings. But while this pleasure is denied me, I am thankful it is accorded to you to have the little pet, and I hope it may be a great deal of company and comfort to its mother. Now, don’t exert yourself to write to me, for to know that you were exerting yourself to write would give me more pain than the letter would pleasure, so you must not do it. But you must love your esposo in the mean time. . . . I expect you are just now made up with that baby. Don’t you wish

“DUTY IS OURS”  385

your husband wouldn’t claim any part of it, but let you have the sole ownership? Don’t you regard it as the most precious little creature in the world? Do not spoil it, and don’t let anybody tease it. Don’t permit it to have a bad temper. How I would love to see the darling little thing! Give her many kisses from her father. “At present I am fifty miles from Richmond, and eight miles from Guiney’s Station, on the railroad from Richmond to Fredericksburg. Should I remain here, I do hope you and baby can come to see me before spring, as you can come on the railway. Wherever I go, God gives me kind friends. The people here show me great kindness. I receive invitation after invitation to dine out and spend the night, and a great many provisions are sent me, including cakes, tea, loaf-sugar, etc., and the socks and gloves and handkerchiefs still come!

“I am so thankful to our ever-kind Heavenly Father for having so improved my eyes as to enable me to write at night. He continually showers blessings upon me; and that you should have been spared, and our darling little daughter given us, fills my heart with overflowing gratitude. If I know my unworthy self, my desire is to live entirely and unreservedly to God’s glory. Pray, my darling, that I may so live.”

Again to his sister-in-law: “I trust God will answer the prayers offered for peace. Not much comfort is to be expected until this cruel war terminates. I haven’t seen my wife since last March, and never having seen my child, you can imagine with what interest I look to North Carolina.”

But the tender promptings of his deep natural affection were stilled by his profound faith that “duty is ours, consequences are God’s.” The Confederate army, at this time as at all others, suffered terribly from desertion; and one of his own brigades reported 1,200 officers and men absent without leave.

“Last evening,” he wrote to his wife on Christmas Day, “I received a letter from Dr. Dabney, saying, ‘one of the highest gratifications both Mrs. Dabney and I could enjoy would be another visit from Mrs. Jackson,’ and he

STUART  386

invites me to meet you there. He and Mrs. Dabney are very kind, but it appears to me that it is better for me to remain with my command so long as the war continues. . . . If all our troops, officers and men, were at their posts, we might, through God’s blessing, expect a more speedy termination of the war. The temporal affairs of some are so deranged as to make a strong plea for their returning home for a short time; but our God has greatly blessed me and mine during my absence, and whilst it would be a great comfort to see you and our darling little daughter, and others in whom I take a special interest, yet duty appears to require me to remain with my command. It is important that those at headquarters set an example by remaining at the post of duty.”

So business at headquarters went on in its accustomed course. There were inspections to be made, the deficiencies of equipment to be made good, correspondence to be conducted—and the control of 30,000 men demanded much office-work—the enemy to be watched, information to be sifted, topographical data to be collected, and the reports of the battles to be written. Every morning, as was his invariable habit during a campaign, the general had an interview with the chiefs of the commissariat, transport, ordnance, and medical departments, and he spent many hours in consultation with his topographical engineer. The great purpose for which Virginia stood in arms was ever present to his mind, and despite his reticence, his staff knew that he was occupied, day and night, with the problems that the future might unfold. Existence at headquarters to the young and high-spirited officers who formed the military family was not altogether lively. Outside there was abundance of gaiety. The Confederate army, even on those lonely hills, managed to extract enjoyment from its surroundings. The hospitality of the plantations was open to the officers, and wherever Stuart and his brigadiers pitched their tents, dances and music were the order of the day. Nor were the men behindhand. Even the heavy snow afforded them entertainment. Whenever a thaw took place they set themselves to making snow-

STUART  387

balls; and great battles, in which one division was arrayed against another, and which were carried through with the pomp and circumstance of war, colours flying, bugles sounding, and long lines charging elaborately planned intrenchments, were a constant source of amusement, except to unpopular officers. Theatrical and musical performances enlivened the tedium of the long evenings; and when, by the glare of the camp-fires, the band of the 5th Virginia broke into the rattling quick-step of “Dixie’s Land,” not the least stirring of national anthems, and the great concourse of grey-jackets took up the chorus, closing it with a yell

That shivered to the tingling stars,

the Confederate soldier would not have changed places with the President himself.

There was much social intercourse, too, between the different headquarters. General Lee was no unfrequent visitor to Moss Neck, and on Christmas Day Jackson’s aides-de-camp provided a sumptuous entertainment, at which turkeys and oysters figured, for the Commander-in-Chief and the senior generals. Stuart, too, often invaded the quarters of his old comrade, and Jackson looked forward to the merriment that was certain to result just as much as the youngest of his staff. “Stuart’s exuberant cheerfulness and humour,” says Dabney, “seemed to be the happy relief, as they were the opposites, to Jackson’s serious and diffident temper. While Stuart poured out his ‘quips and cranks,’ not seldom at Jackson’s expense, the latter sat by, sometimes unprepared with any repartee, sometimes blushing, but always enjoying the jest with a quiet and merry laugh. The ornaments on the wall of the general’s quarters gave Stuart many a topic of badinage. Affecting to believe that they were of General Jackson’s selection, he pointed now to the portrait of some famous race-horse, and now to the print of some celebrated rat-terrier, as queer revelations of his private tastes, indicating a great decline in his moral character, which would be a grief and disappointment to the pious old ladies of the South. Jackson, with a quiet smile, replied that perhaps he had had more to do with

ENGLISH VISITORS  388

race-horses than his friends suspected. It was in the midst of such a scene as this that dinner was announced, and the two generals passed to the mess-table. It so happened that Jackson had just received, as a present from a patriotic lady, some butter, upon the adornment of which the fair donor had exhausted her housewife’s skill. The servants, in honour of General Stuart’s presence, had chosen this to grace the centre of the board. As his eye fell upon it, he paused, and with mock gravity pointed to it, saying, ‘There, gentlemen! If that is not the crowning evidence of our host’s sporting tastes. He even has his favourite game-cock stamped on his butter!’ The dinner, of course, began with great laughter, in which Jackson joined, with as much enjoyment as any.”

Visitors, too, from Europe, attracted by the fame of the army and its leaders, had made their way into the Confederate lines, and were received with all the hospitality that the camps afforded. An English officer has recorded his experiences at Moss Neck:—

“I brought from Nassau a box of goods (a present from England) for General Stonewall Jackson, and he asked me when I was at Richmond to come to his camp and see him. He left the city one morning about seven o’clock, and about ten landed at a station distant some eight or nine miles from Jackson’s (or, as his men called him, Old Jack’s) camp. A heavy fall of snow had covered the country for some time before to the depth of a foot, and formed a crust over the Virginian mud, which is quite as villainous as that of Balaclava. The day before had been mild and wet, and my journey was made in a drenching shower, which soon cleared away the white mantle of snow. You cannot imagine the slough of despond I had to pass through. Wet to the skin, I stumbled through mud, I waded through creeks, I passed through pine-woods, and at last got into camp about two o’clock. I then made my way to a small house occupied by the general as his headquarters. I wrote down my name, and gave it to the orderly, and I was immediately told to walk in.

“The general rose and greeted me warmly. I expected

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to see an old, untidy man, and was most agreeably surprised and pleased with his appearance. He is tall, handsome, and powerfully built, but thin. He has brown hair and a brown beard. His mouth expresses great determination. The lips are thin and compressed firmly together; his eyes are blue and dark, with keen and searching expression. I was told that his age was thirty-eight, and he looks forty. The general, who is indescribably simple and unaffected in all his ways, took off my wet overcoat with his own hands, made up the fire, brought wood for me to put my feet on to keep them warm while my boots were drying, and then began to ask me questions on various subjects. At the dinner hour we went out and joined the members of his staff. At this meal the general said grace in a fervent, quiet manner, which struck me very much. After dinner I returned to his room, and he again talked for a long time. The servant came in and took his mattress out of a cupboard and laid it on the floor.

“As I rose to retire, the general said, ‘Captain, there is plenty of room on my bed, I hope you will share it with me?’ I thanked him very much for his courtesy, but said ‘Good-night,’ and slept in a tent, sharing the blankets of one of his aides-de-camp. In the morning at breakfast-time I noticed that the general said grace before the meal with the same fervour I had remarked before. An hour or two afterwards it was time for me to return to the station; on this occasion, however, I had a horse, and I returned to the general’s headquarters to bid him adieu. His little room was vacant, so I slipped in and stood before the fire. I then noticed my greatcoat stretched before it on a chair. Shortly afterwards the general entered the room. He said: ‘Captain, I have been trying to dry your greatcoat, but I am afraid I have not succeeded very well.’ That little act illustrates the man’s character. With the care and responsibilities of a vast army on his shoulders he finds time to do little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.”

With each of his staff officers he was on most friendly

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terms; and the visitors to his camp, such as the English officer quoted above, found him a most delightful host, discussing with the ease of an educated gentleman all manner of topics, and displaying not the slightest trace of that awkwardness and extreme diffidence which have been attributed to him. The range and accuracy of his information surprised them. “Of military history,” said another English soldier, “he knew more than any other man I met in America; and he was so far from displaying the somewhat grim characteristics that have been associated with his name, that one would have thought his tastes lay in the direction of art and literature.” “His chief delight,” wrote the Hon. Francis Lawley, who knew him well, “was in the cathedrals of England, notably in York Minster and Westminster Abbey. He was never tired of talking about them, or listening to details about the chapels and cloisters of Oxford.”1

“General Jackson,” writes Lord Wolseley, “had certainly very little to say about military operations, although he was intensely proud of his soldiers, and enthusiastic in his devotion to General Lee; and it was impossible to make him talk of his own achievements. Nor can I say that his speech betrayed his intellectual powers. But his manner, which was modesty itself, was most attractive. He put you at your ease at once, listening with marked courtesy and attention to whatever you might say; and when the subject of conversation was congenial, he was a most interesting companion. I quite endorse the statement as to his love for beautiful things. He told me that in all his travels he had seen nothing so beautiful as the lancet windows in York Minster.”

In his daily intercourse with his staff, however, in his office or in the mess-room, he showed to less advantage than in the society of strangers. His gravity of demeanour seldom wholly disappeared, his intense earnestness was in itself oppressive, and he was often absent and preoccupied. “Life at headquarters,” says one of his staff officers, “was decidedly dull. Our meals were often very

The Times, June 11, 1863.

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dreary. The general had no time for light or trivial conversation, and he sometimes felt it his duty to rebuke our thoughtless and perhaps foolish remarks. Nor was it always quite safe to approach him. Sometimes he had a tired look in his eyes, and although he never breathed a word to one or another, we knew that he was dissatisfied with what was being done with the army.”1

Intense concentration of thought and purpose, in itself an indication of a powerful will, had distinguished Jackson from his very boyhood. During his campaigns he would pace for hours outside his tent, his hands clasped behind his back, absorbed in meditation; and when the army was on the march, he would ride for hours without raising his eyes or opening his lips. It was unquestionably at such moments that he was working out his plans, step by step, forecasting the counter-movements of the enemy, and providing for every emergency that might occur. And here the habit of keeping his whole faculties fixed on a single object, and of imprinting on his memory the successive processes of complicated problems, fostered by the methods of study which, both at West Point and Lexington, the weakness of his eyes had made compulsory, must have been an inestimable advantage. Brilliant strategical manœuvres, it cannot be too often repeated, are not a matter of inspiration and of decision on the spur of the moment. The problems presented by a theatre of war, with their many factors, are not to be solved except by a vigorous and sustained intellectual effort. “If,” said Napoleon, “I always appear prepared, it is because, before entering on an undertaking, I have meditated for long and have foreseen what may occur. It is not genius which reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstances unexpected by others; it is thought and meditation.”

The proper objective, speaking in general terms, of all military operations is the main army of the enemy, for a campaign can never be brought to a successful conclusion until the hostile forces in the field have become demoralised

1  Letter from Dr. Hunter McGuire.

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by defeat; but, to ensure success, preponderance of numbers is usually essential, and it may be said, therefore, that the proper objective is the enemy’s main army when it is in inferior strength.

Under ordinary conditions, the first step, then, towards victory must be a movement, or a series of movements, which will compel the enemy to divide his forces, and put it out of his power to assemble even equal strength on the battle-field.

This entails a consideration of the strategic points upon the theatre of war, for it is by occupying or threatening some point which the enemy cannot afford to lose that he will be induced to disperse his army, or to place himself in a position where he can be attacked at a disadvantage. While his main army, therefore, is the ultimate objective, certain strategic points become the initial objectives, to be occupied or threatened either by the main body or detached forces. It is seldom, however, that these initial objectives are readily discovered; and it is very often the case that even the ultimate objective may be obscured.

These principles are well illustrated by the operations in the Valley of Virginia during the month of May and the first fortnight of June, 1862. After the event it is easy to see that Banks’ army was Jackson’s proper objective—being the principal force in the secondary theatre of war. But at the time, before the event, Lee and Jackson alone realised the importance of overwhelming Banks and thus threatening Washington. It was not realised by Johnston, a most able soldier, for the whole of his correspondence goes to show that he thought a purely defensive attitude the best policy for the Valley Army. It was not realised by Jackson’s subordinates, for it was not till long after the battle of Winchester that the real purport of the operations in which they had been engaged began to dawn on them. It was not realised by Lincoln, by Stanton, or even by McClellan, for to each of them the sudden attack on Front Royal was as much of a surprise as to Banks himself; and we may be perfectly confident that none but a trained strategist, after

DEFECTS OF THE FEDERAL STRATEGY  393

a prolonged study of the map and the situation, would realise it now.

It is to be noted, too, that Jackson’s initial objectives—the strategical points in the Valley—were invariably well selected. The Luray Gap, the single road which gives access across the Massanuttons from one side of the Valley to the other, was the most important. The flank position on Elk Run, the occupation of which so suddenly brought up Banks, prevented him interposing between Jackson and Edward Johnson, and saved Staunton from capture, was a second; Front Royal, by seizing which he threatened Banks at Strasburg in flank and rear, compelling him to a hasty retreat, and bringing him to battle on ground which he had not prepared, a third; and the position at Port Republic, controlling the only bridge across the Shenandoah, and separating Shields from Frémont, a fourth. The bearing of all these localities was overlooked by the Federals, and throughout the campaign we cannot fail to notice a great confusion on their part as regards objectives. They neither recognised what the aim of their enemy would be, nor at what they should aim themselves. It was long before they discovered that Lee’s army, and not Richmond, was the vital point of the Confederacy. Not a single attempt was made to seize strategic points, and if we may judge from the orders and dispatches in the Official Records, their existence was never recognised. To this oversight the successive defeats of the Northern forces were in great part due. From McClellan to Banks, each one of their generals appears to have been blind to the advantages that may be derived from a study of the theatre of war. Not one of them hit upon a line of operations which embarrassed the Confederates, and all possessed the unhappy knack of joining battle on the most unfavourable terms. Moreover, when it at last became clear that the surest means of conquering a country is to defeat its armies, the true objective was but vaguely realised. The annihilation of the enemy’s troops seems to have been the last thing dreamt of. Opportunities of crushing him in detail were neither sought for nor created. As General

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Sheridan said afterwards: “The trouble with the commanders of the Army of the Potomac was that they never marched out to ‘lick’ anybody; all they thought of was to escape being ‘licked’ themselves.”

But it is not sufficient, in planning strategical combinations, to arrive at a correct conclusion as regards the objective. Success demands a most careful calculation of ways and means: of the numbers at disposal; of food, forage, and ammunition; and of the forces to he detached for secondary purposes. The different factors of the problem—the strength and dispositions of the enemy, the roads, railways, fortresses, weather, natural features, the moral of the opposing armies, the character of the opposing general, the facilities for supply have each and all of them to be considered, their relative prominence assigned to them, and their conflicting claims to be brought into adjustment.

For such mental exertion Jackson was well equipped. He had made his own the experience of others. His knowledge of history made him familiar with the principles which had guided Washington and Napoleon in the selection of objectives, and with the means by which they attained them. It is not always easy to determine the benefit, beyond a theoretical acquaintance with the phenomena of the battle-field, to be derived from studying the campaigns of the great masters of war. It is true that no successful general, whatever may have been his practical knowledge, has neglected such study; but while many have borne witness to its efficacy, none have left a record of the manner in which their knowledge of former campaigns influenced their own conduct.

In the case of Stonewall Jackson, however, we have much evidence, indirect, but unimpeachable, as to the value to a commander of the knowledge thus acquired. The Maxims of Napoleon, carried in his haversack, were constantly consulted throughout his campaigns, and this little volume contains a fairly complete exposition, in Napoleon’s own words, of the grand principles of war. Moreover, Jackson often quoted principles which are not to be found in the Maxims, but on which Napoleon

MILITARY HISTORY  395

consistently acted. It is clear, therefore, that he had studied the campaigns of the great Corsican in order to discover the principles on which military success is based; that having studied and reflected on those principles, and the effect their application produced, in numerous concrete cases, they became so firmly imbedded in his mind as to be ever present, guiding him into the right path, or warning him against the wrong, whenever he had to deal with a strategic or tactical situation.

It may be noted, moreover, that these principles, especially those which he was accustomed to quote, were concerned far more with the moral aspect of war than with the material. It is a fair inference, therefore, that it was to the study of human nature as affected by the conditions of war, by discipline, by fear, by the want of food, by want of information, by want of confidence, by the weight of responsibility, by political interests, and, above all, by surprise, that his attention was principally directed. He found in the campaigns of Jena and of Austerlitz not merely a record of marches and manœuvres, of the use of intrenchments, or of the general rules for attack and defence; this is the mechanical and elementary part of the science of command. What Jackson learned was the truth of the famous maxim that the moral is to the physical—that is, to armament and numbers—as three to one. He learned, too, to put himself into his adversary’s place and to realise his weakness. He learned, in a word, that war is a struggle between two intellects rather than the conflict of masses; and it was by reason of this knowledge that he played on the hearts of his enemies with such extraordinary skill.

It is not to be asserted, however, that the study of military history is an infallible means of becoming a great or even a good general. The first qualification necessary for a leader of men is a strong character, the second, a strong intellect. With both Providence had endowed Jackson, and the strong intellect illuminates and explains the page that to others is obscure and meaningless. With its innate faculty for discerning what is essential and for discarding unimportant details, it discovers most valuable lessons

MILITARY HISTORY  396

where ordinary men see neither light nor leading. Endowed with the power of analysis and assimilation, and accustomed to observe and to reflect upon the relations between cause and effect, it will undoubtedly penetrate far deeper into the actual significance and practical bearing of historical facts than the mental vision which is less acute.

Jackson, by reason of his antecedent training, was eminently capable of the sustained intellectual efforts which strategical conceptions involve. Such was his self-command that under the most adverse conditions, the fatigues and anxieties of a campaign, the fierce excitement of battle, his brain, to use the words of a great Confederate general, “worked with the precision of the most perfect machinery.”1 But it was not only in the field, when the necessity for action was pressing, that he was accustomed to seclude himself with his own thoughts. Nor was he content with considering his immediate responsibilities. His interest in the general conduct of the war was of a very thorough-going character. While in camp on the Rappahannock, he followed with the closest attention the movements of the armies operating in the Valley of the Mississippi, and made himself acquainted, so far as was possible, not only with the local conditions of the war, but also with the character of the Federal leaders. It was said that, in the late spring of 1862, it was the intention of Mr. Davis to transfer him to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, and it is possible that some inkling of this determination induced him to study the Western theatre.2 Be this as it may, the general situation, military and political, was always in his mind, and despite the victory of Fredericksburg, the future was dark and the indications ominous.

According to the Official Records, the North, at the beginning of April, had more than 900,000 soldiers under

1  General G. B. Gordon. Introduction to Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson, p. 14.
2  In April he wrote to his wife: “There is increasing probability that I may be elsewhere as the season advances.” That he said no more is characteristic.

THE SITUATION  397

arms; the South, so far as can be ascertained, not more than 600,000. The Army of the Potomac was receiving constant reinforcements, and at the beginning of April, 130,000 men were encamped on the Stafford Heights. In the West, the whole extent of the Mississippi, with the exception of the hundred miles between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, was held by the Federals, and those important fortresses were both threatened by large armies, acting in concert with a formidable fleet of gunboats. A third army, over 50,000 strong, was posted at Murfreesboro’, in the heart of Tennessee, and large detached forces were operating in Louisiana and Arkansas. The inroads of the enemy in the West, greatly aided by the waterways, were in fact far more serious than in the East; but even in Virginia, although the Army of the Potomac had spent nearly two years in advancing fifty miles, the Federals had a strong foothold. Winchester had been reoccupied. Fortress Monroe was still garrisoned. Suffolk, on the south bank of the James, seventy miles from Richmond, was held by a force of 20,000 men; while another small army, of about the same strength, occupied New Berne, on the North Carolina coast.

Slowly but surely, before the pressure of vastly superior numbers, the frontiers of the Confederacy were contracting; and although in no single direction had a Federal army moved more than a few miles from the river which supplied it, yet the hostile occupation of these rivers, so essential to internal traffic, was making the question of subsistence more difficult every day. Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, the cattle-raising States, were practically cut off from the remainder; and in a country where railways were few, distances long, and roads indifferent, it was impossible, in default of communication by water, to accumulate and distribute the produce of the farms. Moreover, the dark menace of the blockade had assumed more formidable proportions. The Federal navy, gradually increasing in numbers and activity, held the highway of the ocean in an iron grip; and proudly though the Confederacy bore her isolation, men looked across the waters with dread foreboding, for the shadow of their doom was already rising from the pitiless sea.

THE SITUATION  398

If, then, his staff officers had some reason to complain of their chief’s silence and abstraction, it was by no means unfortunate for the South, so imminent was the danger, that the strong brain was incessantly occupied in forecasting the emergencies that might occur.

But not for a single moment did Jackson despair of ultimate success. His faith in the justice of the Southern cause was as profound as his trust in God’s good providence. He had long since realised that the overwhelming strength of the Federals was more apparent than real. He recognised their difficulties; he knew that the size of an army is limited to the number that can be subsisted, and he relied much on the superior moral and the superior leading of the Confederate troops. After long and mature deliberation he had come to a conclusion as to the policy to be pursued. “We must make this campaign,” he said, in a moment of unusual expansion, “an exceedingly active one. Only thus can a weaker country cope with a stronger; it must make up in activity what it lacks in strength. A defensive campaign can only be made successful by taking the aggressive at the proper time. Napoleon never waited for his adversary to become fully prepared, but struck him the first blow.”

On these principles Jackson had good reason to believe General Lee had determined to act;1 of their efficacy he was convinced, and when his wife came to visit him at the end of April, she found him in good heart and the highest spirits. He not only anticipated a decisive result from the forthcoming operations, but he had seen with peculiar satisfaction that a more manly tone was pervading the Confederate army. Taught by their leaders, by Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and many others, of whose worth and valour they had received convincing proof, the Southern soldiers had begun to practise the clean and wholesome virtue of self-control. They had discovered that purity

1  “There is no better way of defending a long line than by moving into the enemy’s country.” Lee to General Jones, March 21, 1863; O.R., vol. xxv, part ii, p. 680.

THE CHAPLAINS’ ASSOCIATION  399

and temperance are by no means incompatible with military prowess, and that a practical piety, faithful in small things as in great, detracts in no degree from skill and resolution in the field. The Stonewall Brigade set the example. As soon as their own huts were finished, the men, of their own volition, built a log church, where both officers and men, without distinction of rank, were accustomed to assemble during the winter evenings; and those rude walls, illuminated by pine torches cut from the neighbouring forest, witnessed such scenes as filled Jackson’s cup of content to overflowing. A chaplain writes: “The devout listener, dressed in simple grey, ornamented only with three stars, which any Confederate colonel was entitled to wear, is our great commander, Robert Edward Lee. That dashing-looking cavalry-man, with ‘fighting jacket,’ plumed hat, jingling spurs, and gay decorations, but solemn, devout aspect during the service, is ‘Jeb’ Stuart, the flower of cavaliers—and all through the vast crowd wreaths and stars of rank mingle with the bars of the subordinate officers and the rough garb of the private soldier. But perhaps the most supremely happy of the gathered thousands is Stonewall Jackson.” “One could not,” says another, “sit in that pulpit and meet the concentrated gaze of those men without deep emotion. I remembered that they were the veterans of many a bloody field. The eyes which looked into mine, waiting for the Gospel of peace, had looked steadfastly upon whatever is terrible in war. Their earnestness of aspect constantly impressed me. . . . They looked as if they had come on business, and very important business, and the preacher could scarcely do otherwise than feel that he, too, had business of moment there!

At this time, largely owing to Jackson’s exertions, chaplains were appointed to regiments and brigades, and ministers from all parts of the country were invited to visit the camps. The Chaplains’ Association, which did a good work in the army, was established at his suggestion, and although he steadfastly declined to attend its meetings,

THE CHAPLAINS’ ASSOCIATION  400

deeming them outside his functions, nothing was neglected, so far as lay within his power, that might forward the moral welfare of the troops.

But at the same time their military efficiency and material comforts received his constant attention. Discipline was made stricter, indolent and careless officers were summarily dismissed, and the divisions were drilled at every favourable opportunity. Headquarters had been transferred to a tent near to Hamilton’s Crossing, the general remarking, “It is rather a relief to get where there will be less comfort than in a room, as I hope thereby persons will be prevented from encroaching so much upon my time.” On his wife’s arrival he moved to Mr. Yerby’s plantation, near Hamilton’s Crossing, but “he did not permit,” she writes, “the presence of his family to interfere in any way with his military duties. The greater part of each day he spent at his headquarters, but returned as early as he could get off from his labours, and devoted all his leisure time to ha visitors—little Julia having his chief attention and his care. His devotion to his child was remarked upon by all who beheld the happy pair together, for she soon learned to delight in his caresses as much as he loved to play with her. An officer’s wife, who saw him often during this time, wrote to a friend in Richmond that ‘the general spent all his leisure time in playing with the baby.’ ”

April 29   But these quiet and happy days were soon ended. On April 29 the roar of cannon was heard once more at Gurney’s Station, salvo after salvo following in quick succession, until the house shook and the windows rattled with the reverberations. The crash of musketry succeeded, rapid and continuous, and before the sun was high wounded men were brought in to the shelter of Mr. Yerby’s outhouses. Very early in the morning a message from the pickets had come in, and after making arrangements for his wife and child to leave at once for Richmond, the general, without waiting for breakfast, had hastened to the front. The Federals were crossing the

THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC  401

Rappahannock, and Stonewall Jackson had gone to his last field.1

1  The Army of the Potomac was now constituted as follows:—

Engineer Brigade
First Corps
Second Corps
Third Corps

Reynolds
Couch
Sickles

    Divisions

Birney
Berry
Whipple

Fifth Corps
Sixth Corps
Eleventh Corps

Meade
Sedgwick
Howard

    Divisions

McLean
Von Steinwehr
Schurz

Twelfth Corps

Slocum

    Divisions

Williams
Geary

Cavalry Corps

Stoneman

    Divisions

Pleasanton
Averell
Gregg.

  402

NOTE

Headquarters, Second Corps, Army of N. Va.:
April 13, 1863.             

General Orders, No. 26.

I.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

II.  Each division will move precisely at the time indicated in the order of march, and if a division or brigade is not ready to move at that time, the next will proceed and take its place, even if a division should be separated thereby.

III.  On the march the troops are to have a rest of ten minutes each hour. The rate of march is not to exceed one mile in twenty-five minutes, unless otherwise specially ordered. The time of each division commander will be taken from that of the corps commander. When the troops are halted for the purpose of resting, arms will be stacked, ranks broken, and in no case during the march will the troops be allowed to break ranks without previously stacking arms.

IV.  When any part of a battery or train is disabled on a march, the officer in charge must have it removed immediately from the road, so that no part of the command be impeded upon its march.

Batteries or trains must not stop in the line of march to water; when any part of a battery or train, from any cause, loses its place in the column, it must not pass any part of the column in regaining its place.

Company commanders will march at the rear of their respective companies; officers must be habitually occupied in seeing that orders are strictly enforced; a day’s march should be with them a day of labour; as much vigilance is required on the march as in camp.

Each division commander will, as soon as he arrive at his camping-ground, have the company rolls called, and guard details marched to the front of the regiment before breaking ranks; and immediately afterwards establish his chain of sentinels, and post his pickets so as to secure the safety of his command, and will soon thereafter report to their headquarters the disposition made for the security of his camp.

Division commanders will see that all orders respecting their divisions are carried out strictly; each division commander before leaving an encampment will have all damages occasioned by his command settled for by payment or covered by proper certificates.

V.  All ambulances in the same brigade will be receipted for by the brigade quartermaster, they will be parked together, and habitually kept together, not being separated unless the exigencies of the service require, and on marches follow in rear of their respective brigades.

Ample details will be made for taking care of the wounded;

  403

those selected will wear the prescribed badge; and no other person belonging to the army will be permitted to take part in this important trust.

Any one leaving his appropriate duty, under pretext of taking care of the wounded, will be promptly arrested, and as soon as charges can be made out, they will be forwarded.

By command of Lieutenant-General Jackson,

A. S. PENDLETON,       
Assistant Adjutant-General.

 

 

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