G.F. R. Henderson.

Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War online

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soldiers; and those over-conscious of superior wisdom were injured
because their advice was not asked. Before the march to Richmond
there was much discontent. General Whiting, on reaching Staunton with
his division, rode at once to Port Republic to report. "The
distance," says General Imboden, "was twenty miles, and Whiting
returned after midnight. He was in a towering passion, and declared
that Jackson had treated him outrageously. I asked, 'How is that
possible, General? - he is very polite to everyone.'

"'Oh, hang him! he was polite enough. But he didn't say one word about
his plans. I finally asked him for orders, telling him what troops I
had. He simply told me to go back to Staunton, and he would send me
orders to-morrow. I haven't the slightest idea what they will be. I
believe he has no more sense than my horse.'"* (* Battles and Leaders
page 297.)

The orders, when they came, simply directed him to take his troops by
railway to Gordonsville, through which they had passed two days
before, and gave no reason whatever for the movement.

General Whiting was not the only Confederate officer who was
mystified. When the troops left the Valley not a single soul in the
army, save Jackson alone, knew the object of their march. He had even
gone out of his way to blind his most trusted subordinates.

"During the preceding afternoon," says Major Hotchkiss, "he sent for
me to his tent, and asked me to bring maps of the country from Port
Republic to Lexington (at the head of the Valley), as he wished to
examine them. I took the map to his tent, and for about half an hour
we talked concerning the roads and streams, and points of offence and
defence of that region, just as though he had in mind a march in that
direction. After this interval had passed he thanked me and said that
that would do. About half an hour later he sent for me again, and
remarked that there had been some fighting down about Richmond,
referring, of course, to the battle of Seven Pines, and that he would
like to see the map of the field of the operations. I brought the
maps of the district round Richmond, and we spent nearly twice as
much time over those, talking about the streams, the roads, the
condition of the country, and so forth. On retiring to my tent I said
to myself, "Old Jack" is going to Richmond."* (* Letter to the

Even the faithful Dabney was left in the dark till the troops had
reached Mechum's Station. There, calling him into a room in the
hotel, the general locked the door and explained the object of his
march. But it was under seal of secrecy; and Ewell, the second in
command, complained to the chief of the staff that Jackson had gone
off by train, leaving him without orders, or even a hint of what was
in the wind. In fact, a few days after the battle of Port Republic,
Ewell had sent some of his staff on leave of absence, telling them
that large reinforcements were coming up, and that the next move
would be "to beat up Banks' quarters about Strasburg."

When Jackson was informed of the irritation of his generals he merely
smiled, and said, "If I can deceive my own friends I can make certain
of deceiving the enemy." Nothing shook his faith in Frederick the
Great's maxim, which he was fond of quoting: "If I thought my coat
knew my plans, I would take it off and burn it." An anecdote told by
one of his brigadiers illustrates his reluctance to say more than
necessary. Previous to the march to Richmond this officer met Jackson
riding through Staunton. "Colonel," said the general, "have you
received the order?" "No, sir." "Want you to march." "When, sir?"
"Now." "Which way?" "Get in the cars - go with Lawton." "How must I
send my train and the battery?" "By the road." "Well, General, I hate
to ask questions, but it is impossible to send my waggons off without
knowing which road to send them." "Oh!" - laughing - "send them by the
road the others go."

At last, when they saw how constant fortune was to their reticent
leader, his subordinates ceased to complain; but unfortunately there
was another source of trouble. Jackson had no regard whatever for
persons. Reversing the usual procedure, he held that the choleric
word of the soldier was rank blasphemy in the captain; the higher the
rank of the offender the more severe, in his opinion, should be the
punishment. Not only did he hold that he who would rule others must
himself set the example of punctiliousness, but that to whom much is
given, from him much is to be expected. Honour and promotion fall to
the lot of the officer. His name is associated in dispatches with the
valorous deeds of he command, while the private soldier fights on
unnoticed in the crowd. To his colonels, therefore, Jackson was a
strict master, and stricter to his generals. If he had reason to
believe that his subordinates were indolent or disobedient, he
visited their shortcomings with a heavy hand. No excuse availed.
Arrest and report followed immediately on detection, and if the cure
was rude, the plague of incompetency was radically dealt with.
Spirited young soldiers, proud of their high rank, and in no way
underrating their own capacity, rebelled against such discipline; and
the knowledge that they were closely watched, that their omissions
would be visited on their heads with unfaltering severity, sometimes
created a barrier between them and their commander.

But it was only wilful disobedience or actual insubordination that
roused Jackson's wrath. "If he found in an officer," says Dabney, "a
hearty and zealous purpose to do all his duty, he was the most
tolerant and gracious of superiors, overlooking blunders and mistakes
with unbounded patience, and repairing them through his own
exertions, without even a sign of vexation." The delay at the bridge
on the morning of Port Republic, so fatal to his design of crushing
Fremont, caused no outburst of wrath. He received his
adjutant-general's report with equanimity, regarding the accident as
due to the will of Providence, and therefore to be accepted without
complaint.* (* Dabney, Southern Historical Society Papers volume 11
page 152.)

Whether the nobler side of Jackson's character had a share in
creating the confidence which his soldiers already placed in him must
be matter of conjecture. It was well known in the ranks that he was
superior to the frailties of human nature; that he was as thorough a
Christian as he was a soldier; that he feared the world as little as
he did the enemy.* (* His devout habits were no secret in the camp.
Jim, most faithful of servants, declared that he could always tell
when there was going to be a battle. "The general," he said, "is a
great man for prayin'. He pray night and morning - all times. But when
I see him git up several times in the night, an' go off an' pray, den
I know there is goin' to be somethin' to pay, an' I go right away and
pack his haversack!") In all things he was consistent; his sincerity
was as clear as the noonday sun, and his faith as firmly rooted as
the Massanuttons. Publicly and privately, in official dispatches and
in ordinary conversation, the success of his army was ascribed to the
Almighty. Every victory, as soon as opportunity offered, was followed
by the order: "The chaplains will hold divine service in their
respective regiments." "The General Commanding," ran the order after
Winchester, "would warmly express to the officers and men under his
command his joy in their achievements, and his thanks for their
brilliant gallantry in action, and their patient obedience under the
hardships of forced marches, often more painful to the brave soldier
than the danger of battle. The explanation of the severe exertions to
which the commanding general called the army, which were endured by
them with such cheerful confidence in him, is now given in the
victory of yesterday. He receives this proof of their confidence in
the past with pride and gratitude, and asks only a similar confidence
in the future.

"But his chief duty of to-day and that of the army is to recognise
devoutly the hand of a protecting Providence in the brilliant
successes of the last three days (which have given us the results of
a great victory without great losses), and to make the oblation of
our thanks to God for His service to us and our country in heartfelt
acts of religious worship. For this purpose the troops will remain in
camp to-day, suspending, as far as possible, all military exercises;
and the chaplains of regiments will hold divine service in their
several charges at 4 o'clock P.M."* (* Dabney volume 2 pages 114-5.)

Whenever it was possible Sunday was always set apart for a day of
rest; and the claims of the day were seldom altogether disregarded.*
(* "Sometimes," says Major Hotchkiss, "Jackson would keep two or
three Sundays running, so as to make up arrears, and balance the
account!") On the morning of Cross Keys it is related that a large
portion of Elzey's brigade were at service, and that the crash of the
enemy's artillery interrupted the "thirdly" of the chaplain's sermon.

It has been sometimes asserted that Jackson was of the same type as
the saints militant who followed Cromwell, who, when they were not
slaughtering their enemies, would expound the harsh tenets of their
unlovely creed to the grim circle of belted Ironsides. He has been
described as taking the lead at religious meetings, as distributing
tracts from tent to tent, as acting as aide-de-camp to his chaplains,
and as consigning to perdition all those "whose doxy was not his

Nothing is further from the truth. "His views of each denomination,"
says his wife, "had been obtained from itself, not from its
opponents. Hence he could see excellences in all. Even of the Roman
Catholic Church he had a much more favourable impression than most
Protestants, and he fraternised with all Evangelical denominations.
During a visit to New York, one Sabbath morning, we chanced to find
ourselves at the door of an Episcopal Church at the hour of worship.
He proposed that we should enter; and as it was a day for the
celebration of the Communion, he remained for that service, and it
was with the utmost reverence and solemnity that he walked up the
chancel and knelt to receive the elements."

Jackson, then, was by no means imbued with the belief that the
Presbyterian was the one true Church, and that all others were in
error. Nor did he attempt, in the very slightest degree, to usurp the
functions of his chaplains. Although he invariably went to sleep
during their sermons, he was deeply interested in their endeavours,
and gave them all the assistance in his power. But he no more thought
of taking their duties on himself than of interfering with the
treatment of the men in hospital. He spoke no "words in season," even
to his intimates. He had no "message" for them. Where religion was
concerned, so long as duly qualified instructors were available, he
conceived it his business to listen and not to teach. Morning and
evening prayers were the rule at his headquarters, but if any of his
staff chose to remain absent, the general made no remark. Yet all
suspicion of indifference to vice was effectually removed. Nothing
ungenerous or unclean was said in his presence without incurring his
displeasure, always unmistakably expressed, and although he made no
parade of his piety he was far too manly to hide it.

Yet he was never a prominent figure at the camp services. Rather than
occupy a conspicuous place he would seat himself amongst the
privates; and the only share he took in directing the proceedings was
to beckon men to the seats that respect had left empty beside him.
Those who picture him as an enthusiastic fanatic, invading, like the
Puritan dragoons, the pulpits of the chaplains, and leading the
devotions of his troops with the same fervour that he displayed in
battle, have utterly misread his character. The humblest soldier in
the Confederate army was not more modest and unassuming than
Stonewall Jackson.


The Federal strength at M'Dowell.
Fremont's return of April 30 is as follows: -
Milroy's Brigade 4,807
Schenck's Brigade 3,335

of May 10: -
Milroy 3,694
Schenck 3,335

of May 31: -
Milroy 2,914
Schenck 3,335

Schenck reports that the total force ENGAGED at M'Dowell was 1768 of
Milroy's brigade, and about 500 of his own, total 2268; and that he
himself brought to M'Dowell 1800 infantry, a battery, and 250
cavalry - say, 1600 men.

Milroy's command may fairly be estimated at 3500; Schenck brought
1600 men; there were therefore available for action at M'Dowell 5100

Fremont's strength at Cross Keys.

The return of May 31 gives: - 13,520 officers and men.

Fremont, in his report of the battle, says that on May 29 he had over
11,000 men, which, deducting guards, garrisons, working parties and
stragglers, were reduced to 10,500 combatants at Cross Keys.

But he does not include in this last estimate Bayard's cavalry, which
joined him at Strasburg.

On May 31 Bayard had 1844 officers and men; he had suffered some loss
in fighting Ashby, and his strength at the battle may be put down as

All garrisons, guards and working parties are included in the
Confederate numbers, so they should be added to the Federal estimate.
We may fairly say, then, that at Cross Keys the following troops were
available: -

Fremont 11,000
Bayard 1,750
- - -
Total 12,750
- - -

Strength of the Federals, May 17-25.

On April 30 Banks' "effective" numbers were as follows: -

Donnelly's Brigade 2,747
Gordon's Brigade 3,005
Artillery (26 guns) 492
Cavalry (General Hatch) 2,834
Body-guard 70
- - -
- - -

On May 23 he had: -

At Strasburg: Infantry 4,476
Cavalry 2,600
Artillery (18 guns) 350
At Front Royal, Buckton, etc. 1,300
Bodyguard 70

From the Harper's Ferry Garrison: -

At Strasburg: Cavalry 800
At Winchester: Infantry 856
Cavalry 600
- - -
- - -

On May 31, after losing 2019 men at Front Royal and Winchester, he
had, the Harper's Ferry troops having been added to his command: -

Infantry 5,124
Cavalry 3,230
Artillery (l6 guns) 286
Miscellaneous 82
- - -
Add 2,019
- - -
- - -

10,500 effectives on May 23 is therefore a fair estimate.

Geary's 2000 at Rectortown, as they were acting under Mr. Stanton's
orders, have not been included.





2.15. CEDAR RUN.




































The region whither the interest now shifts is very different from the
Valley. From the terraced banks of the Rappahannock, sixty miles
north of Richmond, to the shining reaches of the James, where the
capital of the Confederacy stands high on her seven hills, the
lowlands of Virginia are clad with luxuriant vegetation. The roads
and railways run through endless avenues of stately trees; the
shadows of the giant oaks lie far across the rivers, and ridge and
ravine are mantled with the unbroken foliage of the primeval forest.
In this green wilderness the main armies were involved. But despite
the beauty of broad rivers and sylvan solitudes, gay with gorgeous
blossoms and fragrant with aromatic shrubs, the eastern, or
tidewater, counties of Virginia had little to recommend them as a
theatre of war. They were sparsely settled. The wooden churches,
standing lonely in the groves where the congregations hitched their
horses; the solitary taverns, half inns and half stores; the
court-houses of the county justices, with a few wooden cottages
clustered round them, were poor substitutes for the market-towns of
the Shenandoah. Here and there on the higher levels, surrounded by
coppice and lawn, by broad acres of corn and clover, the manors of
the planters gave life and brightness to the landscape. But the men
were fighting in Lee's ranks, their families had fled to Richmond,
and these hospitable homes showed signs of poverty and neglect.
Neither food nor forage was to be drawn from the country, and the
difficulties of supply and shelter were not the worst obstacles to
military operations. At this season of the year the climate and the
soil were persistent foes. The roads were mere tracks, channels which
served as drains for the interminable forest. The deep meadows, fresh
and green to the eye, were damp and unwholesome camping-grounds.
Turgid streams, like the Chickahominy and its affluents, winding
sluggishly through rank jungles, spread in swamp and morass across
the valleys, and the languid atmosphere, surcharged with vapour, was
redolent of decay.


Through this malarious region the Federal army had been pushing its
slow way forward for more than six weeks, and 105,000 men,
accompanied by a large siege train, lay intrenched within sight of
the spires of Richmond. 30,000 were north of the Chickahominy,
covering the York River Railway and waiting the coming of McDowell.
The remainder, from Woodbury's Bridge to the Charles City road,
occupied the line of breastworks which stood directly east of the
beleaguered city. So nearly was the prize within their grasp that the
church bells, and even the clocks striking the hour, were heard in
the camps; and at Mechanicsville Bridge, watched by a picket, stood a
sign-post which bore the legend: "To Richmond, 4ВЅ miles." The
sentries who paced that beat were fortunate. For the next two years
they could boast that no Federal soldier, except as a prisoner, had
stood so close as they had to the rebel stronghold. But during these
weeks in June not a single soul in McClellan's army, and few in the
Confederacy, suspected that the flood of invasion had reached
high-water mark. Richmond, gazing night after night at the red glow
which throbbed on the eastern vault, the reflection of countless
camp-fires, and, listening with strained ears to the far-off call of
hostile bugles, seemed in perilous case. No formidable position
protected the approaches. Earthworks, indeed, were in process of
construction; but, although the left flank at New Bridge was covered
by the Chickahominy, the right was protected by no natural obstacle,
as had been the case at Yorktown; and the lines occupied no
commanding site. Nor had the Government been able to assemble an army
of a strength sufficient to man the whole front. Lee, until Jackson
joined him, commanded no more than 72,500 men. Of these a large
portion were new troops, and their numbers had been reduced by the
7000 dispatched under Whiting to the Valley.

June 11.

But if the Federal army was far superior in numbers, it was not
animated by an energy in proportion to its strength. The march from
the White House was more sluggish than the current of the
Chickahominy. From May 17 to June 26 the Army of the Valley had
covered four hundred miles. Within the same period the Army of the
Potomac had covered twenty. It is true that the circumstances were
widely different. McClellan had in front of him the lines of
Richmond, and his advance had been delayed by the rising of the
Chickahominy. He had fought a hard fight at Seven Pines; and the
constant interference of Jackson had kept him waiting for McDowell.
But, at the same time, he had displayed an excess of caution which
was perfectly apparent to his astute opponent. He had made no attempt
to use his superior numbers; and Lee had come to the conclusion that
the attack on Richmond would take the same form as the attack on
Yorktown, - the establishment of great batteries, the massing of heavy
ordnance, and all the tedious processes of a siege. He read McClellan
like an open book. He had personal knowledge both of his capacity and
character, for they had served together on the same staff in the
Mexican war. He knew that his young adversary was a man of undoubted
ability, of fascinating address, and of courage that was never higher
than when things were at their worst. But these useful qualities were
accompanied by marked defects. His will was less powerful than his
imagination. Bold in conception, he was terribly slow in execution.
When his good sense showed him the opportunity, his imagination
whispered, "Suppose the enemy has reserves of which I know nothing!
Is it not more prudent to wait until I receive more accurate
information?" And so "I dare not," inevitably waited on "I would." He
forgot that in war it is impossible for a general to be absolutely
certain. It is sufficient, according to Napoleon, if the odds in his
favour are three to two; and if he cannot discover from the attitude
of his enemy what the odds are, he is unfitted for supreme command.

Before Yorktown McClellan's five army corps had been held in check,
first by 15,000 men, then by 58,000, protected by earthworks of
feeble profile.* (* "No one but McClellan would have hesitated to
attack." Johnston to Lee, April 22, 1862. O.R. volume 11 part 3 page
456.) The fort at Gloucester Point was the key of the Confederate
lines.* (* Narrative of Military Operations, General J.B. Johnston
pages 112 and 113.) McClellan, however, although a division was
actually under orders to move against it, appears to have been
unwilling to risk a failure.* (* The garrison consisted only of a few
companies of heavy artillery, and the principal work was still
unfinished when Yorktown fell. Reports of Dr. Comstock, and Colonel
Cabell, C.S.A. O.R. volume 11 part 1.) The channel of the York was
thus closed both to his transports and the gunboats, and he did
nothing whatever to interfere with Johnston's long line of
communications, which passed at several points within easy reach of
the river bank. Nor had he been more active since he had reached West
Point. Except for a single expedition, which had dispersed a
Confederate division near Hanover Court House, north of the
Chickahominy, he had made no aggressive movement. He had never
attempted to test the strength of the fortifications of Richmond, to
hinder their construction, or to discover their weak points. His
urgent demands for reinforcements had appeared in the Northern
newspapers, and those newspapers had found their way to Richmond.
From the same source the Confederates were made aware that he
believed himself confronted by an army far larger than his own; and
when, on the departure of Whiting's division for the Valley, he
refused to take advantage of the opportunity to attack Lee's
diminished force, it became abundantly clear, if further proof were
wanting, that much might be ventured against so timid a commander.

Online LibraryG.F. R. HendersonStonewall Jackson and the American Civil War → online text (page 40 of 85)