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His performances in the riding-school were
painful to him and fearful to see. With less
aptitude for equitation than any of us, he
would still venture the most desperate feats in
the most awkward and fearless way. In cut-
ting at a head on the ground with his saber,
he would fling himself almost off his horse and
make us hold our breath ; but he would strike
the head and manage somehow to scuffle back
into his saddle.

Young Jackson soon proved that lack
of sense could not be imputed to him, for
by hard work and patient industry he
climbed slowly but surely from the bottom
of his class to the grade of seventeen.
With this grade he was graduated July 1,
1846. He was appointed brevet second
lieutenant of artillery, and soon thereafter
was ordered to join Captain John B. Ma-
grader's light battery, then serving in
Mexico. The distinguished gallantry of
Jackson in the battles of Contreras, Chu-
nibusco, and Chapultepec procured for
him an almost unprecedented promotion,
and in September he was breveted a major
of artillery.

His course in Mexico had brought his
name prominently before the country, and
naturally excited the pride of all Virgin-
ians in the career of their gallant young
fellow-citizen. It is not siu-prising, there-
fore, that when his name appeared before
the board of visitors of the Virginia Mili-
tary Institute as one of the nominees for
the chair of natural and experimental phi-
losophy and artillery, the board unani-
mously selected him to fill the chair, not-
withstanding the fact that such men as
George B. McClellan, J. L. Reno, W. S.
Rosecrans, and G. W. Smith appeared as

Jacksofj was appointed professor on
.March 24, 1851, and entered upon the
' duties of pis chair on the 1st of the fol-
lowing September.

His form was tall, gaunt, and angular.
His feet and hands were large, and his
walk was singularly imgraceful. He always
spoke quickly, in short sentences devoid

of ornament, but to the point. A habit of
" batting " his eyes added no little to the
peculiarity of his appearance. His eyes
were gray and ordinarily dull and expres-
sionless ; but when excited by drill, which
always seemed to rouse him, especially
when charges were fired, the whole man
would change, as if he were transported by
the roar of the guns to the exciting scenes
of an actual field of battle.

Upon one occasion, during a rest at
artillery drill, as a number of us cadets
were gathered about him asking questions
concerning his campaigns in Mexico, one
of our number said :

" Major, do you like to fight ? "

After pausing a moment, he replied :

" Yes, Mr. , I love to fight ; but I

am principled against it.''

His posture in class was always stiff and
apparently uncomfortable— bolt upright,
his back rarely or never touching the back
of the chair, his feet close together, and his
eyes ordinarily gazing straight to the front.
This position was so rarely changed that
the writer does not recall having seen it
altered for a moment. His voice was
peculiar and was pitched upon a somewhat
high key. In calling upon a cadet to recite,
he invariably accented the last syllable of
the word " Mister."

He would hold a lead-pencil in his left
hand, and whenever a recitation was made
by a pupil he would gently slide his hand
downward about half an inch for each
mistake, so that the pupil could estimate
approximately what mark to expect by the
length of pencil above his hand. Idlers
claimed that no allowance was made by
him for accidental slips. When asked for
explanations as to the drift or meaning of
a question, he invariably repeated the
original form, and no amount of coaxing
or pumping could induce him to alter it.
He was faithful and laborious, strict and
imswer\'ing in discipline, yet incapable of
fixing the attention of his classes or of
preserving order in the class-room. His
deafness, with a consequent difficulty in
determining the exact direction from which
soimd proceeded, was one cause of this.

The writer remembers having seen a
cadet stand for fifteen minutes before
Major Jackson while reciting, and slowly
turn the cylinder of a small music-box
concealed beneath the cape of his over-
coat. The boy maintained his gravity, and

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it was amusing to see the major's efforts to
discover whence the sound proceeded, with-
out for a moment suspecting the culprit.

Some of his peculiarities were marked,
as will be shown by the following anec-

The class being engaged upon the sub-
ject of electricity, the major asked :

" Mr. , if you wished to send a tele-
gram from here to Staunton, how would
you do so ? "

The pupil answered by telling all he
knew of the generation of electricity, the
processes of establishing and cutting off
the current, etc. The major listened at -
tentively to the end, and then replied :

" No, Mr. ; you would n't do that."

" Well, major," answered the cadet, " I
don't know what I would do, then."

The major said slowly :

"You would put up a telegraph line Jlrs/j
Mr. ." .

When at drill or on military duty, his
ideas of soldierly decorum were peciiliarly
rigid. The writer has more than once
seen mischievous boys throw small pieces
of sod at him when his back was turned
—on one occasion a small sod struck him
exactly on the back of the head. He
merely shook his head, did not turn around,
and showed no consciousness of having
been struck. But woe to the variet caught
flagrante delicto. Nothing availed ; no ex-
cuse, however plausible, however humble,
was accepted. He was immediately turned
over to the tender mercies of the superin-
tendent and punished accordingly.

To show his ideas as to the strict obser-
vance of military duty, it is remembered
that once at artillery drill a thunder-storm
suddenly arose and burst upon the battery
before he was aware of it, so much ab-
sorbed had he been in the duty of the
hour. He immediately dismissed the bat-
tery to barracks, but, intending to resume
the drill as soon as the storm had passed,
took his stand under a tree situated on the
parade-ground, and there remained, al-
though invited to take shelter in the house
of a professor not fifty steps distant. There
he stood like a statue during the entire
storm, much to the amusement of us boys,
comfortably housed. As soon as the storm
was over he ordered out the battery, and
finished the drill in his saturated clothing.
Doubtless he had considered himself on
duty the whole time, and it did not com-

port with his idea of discipline to seek the
shelter of a roof.

If he once detected a pupil in what he
supposed to be an attempt to trifle with
him or to impose upon his good natm-e, he
never forgot it. One who has since be-
come a most useful man in the walks of
science, having read the work of "John
Phoenix," and wishing to have some amuse-
ment at the major's expense, asked him :

" Major, is Aries the hydraulic ram ? "

"Where did you get that idea, Mr.
? " said the major.

"From a book I have been reading
recently," replied the cadet

"And what book is that?" asked the

The pupil, fearing to incur the displea-
sure of the major, hesitated; but as he
paused a humorous classmate arose and
said with great volubility : " Major, I hap-
pen to remember the name of the work :
it is ' Phcenixiana,' by John Phoenix, alias
Squibob, who sajrs that Aries is the
hydraulic ram; Taurus, the Irish bull;
Gemini, the Siamese twins ; Leo, the great
African lion ; Capricomus, the billy-goat."

The major lost his gravity and for once
laughed heartily; but never afterward
would he answer a question put by either
of these boys.

A short time afterward the former of
the above-mentioned cadets asked him to
explain why a blue spot painted on a red
ground on a card seemed to vibrate when
the card was rapidly shaken.

"All your imagination, Mr. ; all

your imagination," replied the major.

" But, major," said the cadet, " it is a
fact. I have tried the experiment and
know it to be true."

" All imagination, Mr. ; all imagi-

This terminated the discussion for the
time; but the pupil, an excellent drafts-
man, after leaving the class-room drew a
small red mouse on a blue ground, and
the following day carried it to the major
to prove to him the truth of his assertion.
The major would not even look at it.

" All your imagination, Mr. ; all

your imagination," he declared.

From that time neither of these boys
ever obtained an answer to a question,
even after one of them had been appointed
an assistant professor and sought informa-
tion for class purposes.

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Upon the occasion of the execution of
John Brown, December 2, 1859, the cadets
of the Virginia Military Institute were
ordered by the governor of Virginia to
repair to Charlestown in order to form
part of the military force assembled at that
point to preserve order and to prevent any
attempt at rescue. The corps of cadets
was divided into an infantry battalion,
under the command of Major William
Gilham, and an artillery detachment,
commanded by Major Jackson.

For some reason not now remembered,
the artillery detachment took a route that
compelled it 'to spend a night in Wash-
mgton, D. C.

It happened that the writer and another
cadet occupied the same room with Major
Jackson and another officer of the institute.
As we were retiring, the major said to the
officer mentioned, " Captain, what do you
do with your watch and piurse when spend-
ing the night in a hotel ? '*

*'Well," said the captain, "I have no
fixed rule ; but ordinarily I put my waist-
coat, in which I carry them, under my

" I can tell you a much better way than
that," said the major. " I always place my
watch in one sock and my purse in the
other, and lay them on the floor as if they
had been thrown there carelessly. No one
would think of looking into a pair of soiled
socks for valuably."

We were up betimes next morning, — be-
fore daybreak, if I recollect aright, — and,
having breakfasted, started for the wharf
to take the boat. We had marched, possibly,
a couple of squares when we were siu^rised
to hear the major's voice giving, with his
peculiar intonation, the^ command : " De-
tachment, halt. Place rest." Turning to
see what was the matter, we perceived the
major trotting briskly toward the hotel.
He soon returned, and marched us to the

Suspecting the cause of the stoppage, I
approached him as soon as the boat had
started, and said :

"Major, I was much struck by your
method of concealing your watch and

purse last night, and think I shall adopt
it hereafter."

A broad smile crept over his face as he
replied :

" Well, Mr. , if you do follow the

plan, don't put on clean socks the next
morning, and forget the soiled ones, as I
have done to-day."

Just before the secession of Virginia, the
young men of the school, Hke all hot-
headed and thoughtless boys, were eager
for secession, and inclined to condemn all
who held contrary opinions. Many of the
citizens of Lexington were at that time
strongly Union in sentiment, and, to show
their attachment to the government, raised
a Union pole in the main street of the

This not coinciding with the ideas of the
cadets, they determined to pull it down ;
but better counsels prevailed, and by the
earnest persuasion of Governor Letcher
and others they were induced to relinquish
the plan and to return to barracks. Upon
reaching the institute, the corps assembled
in the hall and various speeches of a pacific
character were made by the officers. Just
before dispersing, vociferous calls were
made upon Major Jackson for a speech.
He hesitated for a time, but finally rose
and said : " Young gentlemen, it is not the
part of a soldier to talk much. Your State
has not seceded. She has made no call
upon you. When she does call for you to
draw yom' sword, draw it and throw away
the scabbard."

This was the only speech the writer ever
heard him make.

On April 27, 1861, Major Jackson was
appointed a colonel of Virginia forces,
and ordered to take command at Harper's
Ferry. This severed forever the ties exist-
ing between professor and pupil. With
feelings of wonder and of pleased surprise
we watched his upward course, and as each
(to us) new and brilliant characteristic of
the man burst forth imder the pressure of
action, we took no small shame to ourselves
for our lack of penetration, and acknow-
ledged gladly how greatly we had mistaken
and underrated his endowments.

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HREE young women sat in
a green and secret place by
a spring, and sewed at a
flag. About them were over-
woods of straight pines and
underwoods of laurel, aza-
lea, and jasmine. Under these again was a
fine texture of wild strawberry plants and
trailing arbutus. Looking straight up, you
saw a round patch of pale-blue sky, in the
midst of which was suspended, as if by a
string let down from heaven, a perfectly
contented buzzard with fringy wings. The
arbutus, the azaleas, and the jasmine smelled
to heaven ; the strawberry plants and the
laurel and the azaleas and the arbutus
were pink. The strawberry blossoms were
white with yellow centers. The jasmine
was yellow and looked as if it liked to be
yellow. It seemed also of an affectionate
disposition, for it had delicious arms to
twine about everything. The buzzard was
a dirty gray. And of the three young
women who sewed at the flag, two were
black. There is no use denying it. They
could not have denied it themselves. Their
names were Polly and Sue. The third
young woman was between peach-color
and white. Her name was Sally, and she
had blue eyes and black eyebrows, and
brown hair, and a resolute little chin with
a dimple in the middle of it. She had also
a dimple in her left cheek (in exactly the
right place) ; and she had a pair of red
lips that said, " You must, because you
can't help yourself," but a calm of blue
eyes that said, "You would best not."

How long the three young women had
been sitting in that secret flowery place,
beside the sunken nail-keg full of sweet
water, stitching at a flag (which was not
the Stars and Stripes), I am unable to say.

Suffice it that the last stitches were going
in, and the flag was pretty large.

"Honey lamb," said Miss Polly, "yo'
pa gwine t* ca*y dis flag hisse'f ?"

" I 've tol* you twenty times," said Miss
Sally, " that cunnels doan't ca*y they own
flags. Color-bea'ers ca'ies them, an* they
goes fust ; then comes the men ma'chin' by
fo's, an' then the cunnels on they black
wa' -horses swingin' they naked saybahs,
'n' then— 'n' then comes victo'y o* death ! "

"Behin* all dey udders?" asked Sue,
with wide eyes.

" No, chil'," said Miss Sally, "victo'y o'
death comes after they gets tha. Now
spread it out smooth till we see how it

The flag was spread out and admired.
Suddenly Sally scooped it into her arms,
crushed it hard against her breast, and
kissed it over and over.

" Oh, you precious— you precious ! " she

Polly and Sue rolled their eyes and,
negro-like, were prepared to laugh, cry,
scream, yell, dance», sing, or act in whatever
way should seem most tactful. But Miss
Sally disembraced the flag and spread it
out again.

"Chilluns," she said, "I 'm goin' ter
paddle. Who loves me follers me."

In less than a minute she was without
shoes or stockings, and her pretty feet were
delighting in the ribbon of water that
trickled from the nail-keg down a favorite
little valley of its own.

Polly and Sue, having been without pedi-
gear of any kind since the breaking up of
winter, hitched up their calico petticoats
and joined her immediately. Delectable
laughter arose, as when Nausicaa and her
maidens, sporting on the beach, aroused

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many-willed Odysseus where he Uy asleep
under a wild and a tame fig-tree.

Presently was heard a movement among
the underwoods, and the petticoats went
down and the laughter ceased. Silence.
Again a sound of stealthy moving. Miss
Sally left the water and sat down (with her
back to the noise) and began to put on her
shoes and stockings. PoUy and Sue gath-
ered up the flag.

"Must 'ave been—" began Miss Sally.
And she finished with a gasp. For not two
hundred yards away there was a sudden
detonating crash of musketry, and the
scream of a hit man. After that there was
more firing, but the sounds of it receded
until they became like the popping of
corks. After a long time there was again
complete silence. Miss Sally, who had not
moved since springing to her feet at the
first crash, now looked to right and left, and
found that, Hke those of Casabianca, her
companions had fled. Faithful to death,
but not valiant, Polly and Sue, squealing
and making great time, had disappeared
from the face of the wood.

Presently Miss Sally did a bold thing.
She raised her voice and called as loudly
as she could :

" Is anybody hu't ? "

She listened intently and thought that
she heard a groan. She marched straight
for it. She nearly trod upon a rabbit. A
quail thundered up from her nest The
groaning was very plain now.

An enemy in blue lay on his back in the
wood, staining the strawberry blossoms red.
He had a jovial, tanned face that twitched
with pain and emitted groans. Miss Sally
knelt beside him.

"My dear young lady," he said, "be-
lieve me, I would n't have groaned if I had
known that anybody was listening."

" Where are yo' hit ? " said Miss SaUy.

"The hit is nothing," said the enemy,
who was now smiling; "and I am happy
to say that it is in front, somewhere or
other. But when the order was passed to
advance, I regret to confess that in rising
to my feet I was so gauche as to sprain
my ankle."

" Have yo' still got the bullet in yo* ? "
asked Miss Sally, "'cause yo' sholy are

" Am I ? " said the enemy, and he sat up
and looked down at himself, as a person
looks who thinks to have filled food ; and

as he looked he turned yery white and
swayed a little. But he turned his eyes to
SaUy and smiled a brave, friendly smile,
and fainted dead away.

Sally had a pair of scissors slung to her
belt, and she made quick work with the
friendly enemy's tunic. She brought to
light a greatly muscled breast as white and
silky as her own, save where it was fur-
rowed with a deep blackish furrow that
bled copiously.

" That 's what paw calls a scratch," said
Miss Sally; and she stuffed her handker-
chief into it. "It 'pears to me mo' like a
gully. The po' man wants water." She
was up and away on swift feet, calling as
she ran :

" Po-o-lly ! Suu-ooo ! come hee-ah ! "


"'Peared like I heard some one scream,"
said Miss SaUy. The enem/s wound had
been made to stop bleeding and his " po'
sick foot" was coolly wrapped in leaves
cold with spring water.

The enemy blushed.

" I told you I did n't know that anybody
was listenin'," said the enemy.

"Then yo' did it?"

" Even so. And you despise me for it,
don't you ? "

"I don't know," said Miss SaUy; "I
never was hu't."

" Do you hve far from here ? "

" Not very."

" Do you think your people could be
persuaded to take a man"— he touched
his uniform—"©^ my color in for a few
days, * twel his po' sick foot can be stood
on ' ? "

"They sholy would," said Miss Sally,
totally imconscious of the enemy's mock-
ing mimicry, "but my folks is scattered.
There 's paw marchin* with Lee, an' Fred
marchin' with Lee, an' maw— she 's dead.
What 's yo' name ? "

" Carrington," said the enemy — "first
name Richard. What 's yours? "

"SaUy May— middle name Calvert,"
said Miss Sally.

" And how about a roof to go over poor
Carrington *s head, Miss Sally ? "

Miss Sally dimpled and mused.

" Fus' place," she said, " I 'm aU alone
excep' fo' oua niggahs. Second place,
yo' 're my enemy."

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" True, my friend," said the enemy.

Miss Sally laughed and mused and

** Yo' could stay heah in the woods, an'
I could sen' you a niggah to fetch yo'
breakfus' in the mo'nin' an' heah yo'
prayers at night. I could let you have a
book to pass the time, an' I could let yo'
stay heah an' catch mala'ya, an' chills an'
fevers. But since yo' 's my enemy, my
friend, I won't. 'Pears to me yo' better
res' heah while I runs an' fetches a cyart.
Is yo' po' foot mo' easy ? "

"Good-by, Miss Sally— God bless
you. It 's much mo' easy. You come
back, won't you? Don't send any old

There remained, when she had gone, the
sun and the flowers, the arbutus and the
jasmine, and the singing of the birds ; yet
the wood was less sweet, the spring less

Carrington crawled off into the under-
brush, — ten yards, twenty, thirty, — groan-
ing as he went,— a hundred. Almost in
his face a great gray bird rose flapping
heavily and perched upon the lowest limb
of a tree. The bird looked down at the
man with selfish, cruel eyes.

A man in gray, old, stem, and gray, lay
face up in the spot which the bird had
quitted. The man had the shoulder-straps
of a colonel in the Confederate army. A
bullet had smashed his knee— hence the
scream ; one more merciful had broken his
heart. Carrington went through the man's
pockets. No papers, no date, no nothing,
only a leather case containing a daguerre-
otype. Carrington looked a moment at
the face in the picture, and as he looked
something mightily like a sob shook him.
The face was that of Miss Sally.

Carrington placed the case in the dead
man's pocket, then he looked upward :

" Almighty God," he said, " have mercy
upon me for having shot this man ! But I
could n't know, could I— could I ? " And
he broke down and began to cry.


Carrington crawled behind a thick holly-
bush and effaced himself. Four soldiers
in gray came quietly through the forest.
Each walked at a comer of a stretcher.
They halted by the dead colonel, and set
the stretcher down. One of them knelt by
the body.

"Hit two times," he said. "Ketch a-

They lifted the dead man upon the

" No hurry," said the man who had

They lifted the stretcher and moved
away quietly.

Carrington crawled back to the place
where Miss Sally had first found him.

" Have yo' rested since I left yo', Mistah
Ca'ington ? "

" Yes, Miss Sally ; don't I look rested ? "
" No ; yo' look mighty sick. Thomas
Jeffe'son, take this po' gen'l'man's shoul-
ders; John Randolph, yo' take his feet —
an' don' yo' hu't him. Yo' heah what I
say, niggah ? "


" But supposing this particular enemy was
responsible for the death of somebody
very near and dear. Miss Sally ? Suppose
she did n't know and he did. Iff could n't
go ahead and make love to her, cotM he ?
He 'd be all sorts of a wrong kind of a
man if he did."

" I don't know an)rthing at all about it,"
said Miss Sally.

" I know of such a case," said Carring-
ton : "the man— not a bad sort; the girl
everything that is charming. In a battle
the man killed the girl's father. He did n't
know it was her father, of course, but he
killed him. That was before he knew the
girl. Afterward he met her and loved her,
and she cared about him— and just then
the man found out who it was he had killed,
and he had to tell her— and— and then, of
course, he had to go away."

" Of co'se," said Miss Sally.

Miss Sally was singularly silent that
lovely morning; indeed, a kind of spring
lassitude possessed them both. Carrington,
still very weak, reclined in a big chair and
looked out upon a space of roses inclosed
by box. Miss Sally sat on the steps at his
feet and looked beyond the flowers— deep
into her mind's eye. I think that what she
saw there was herself and Carrington sim-
ply going on and being happier and hap-
pier together. Miss Sally was sixteen.

Every now and then Carrington looked
from the roses to Sally. He could see a
pink cheek, the tip of a nose, the shadows
about an eye, the tilt of a chin, and the

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warm, soft brown hair. She seemed much
sweeter to him than the roses. And the
sweeter she seemed, the more he tried to
steel his distracted heart, the more he tried
to make up his mind to go. Sally he saw,

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 23 of 120)