James Dabney McCabe.

The life of Thomas J. Jackson online

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far as Williamsport, occasionally throwing bodies of troops
into Virginia. ,

General Jackson was once more in the Valley of Vir-
ginia, and had redeemed the promise made to the people
of Winchester when he left it the last time, that " he
would return again shortly, and as certainly as now."


■ **•
That coming had long been watched for by both friend

and foe. Once when he was moving upon Pope at Cedar

run, the enemy at Winchester had been startled by the

report that he was moving rapidly down the Valley, and

had been filled with dismay at the prospect of meeting


« He had come again to the Valley bearing the laurels

of nearly half a score of victories won since he left it.

He came only once more — never to leave it.

"While the army lay at Winchester, General Jackson
was charged with the duty of watching the enemy. About
the middle of October, General McClellan crossed his
army at Harpers Ferry and Williamsport, and moving
forward, occupied Charlestown in Jefferson county, and
Kearney svillc on the Baltimore and .Ohio railroad. Se-
vere skirmishing occurred along the lines daily* On the
17th of October the enemy moved forward from the Po-
tomac towards Martinsburg. General Jackson at once
advanced upon them and drove them rapidly across the
the river. Remaining with his command for some time
in the neighborhood of the Potomac, he inflicted great
damage upon the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, tearing
up the track and burning bridges. That portion of the
road extending ||m Sir John's run, in Morgan county,
to a point within a few miles of Harpers Ferry, a dis-
tance of about forty miles, was entirely destroyed.

General McClellan lay idly watching General Lee until
late in October. His forces were more numerous and
better equipped than those of the confederate commander,
but he had suffered too severely from Lee's skill and the
bravery of his troops, to wish to attack him again. The
federal government sent General McClellan repeated


orders to advance upon General Lee, but he contrived to
evade the execution of them, knowing that his safety lay
in inaction. At last, having received peremptory orders
to advance, he moved the main body of his army east of
the Blue Ridge, sending the corpS of General Burnsicle
in advance. His object was to seize the passes of the
Blue Ridge, hold the army of General Lee in check, anil
force that officer either to remain in the Valley or to pass
the mountains nearer to Staunton, while he would send a
strong column to attack Richmond. The plan was well
laid, but not deep enough to baffle the penetration of
General Lee. Scarcely had McClellan put his troops in
motion, when Longstreet's corps passed the Blue Ridge
and moved towards Culpeper. General Jackson was left
behind to watch McClellan, to prevent him from occu-
pying the mountain passes, and to check any pursuit of
Longstreet that might be-attempted.

McClellan pressed on. General Jackson moving his
forces from point to point, confuted him as to his inten-
tions, and prevented him from occupying the gaps- through
which he desired to pass his own troops. Baffled by the
superior skill of Jackson, and finding that Lee had out-
generalled him again, McClellan begun massing his troops
in the region of Culpeper. vThe feder^ army coivinued
to move on and reached Warrenton. nere General Mc-
Clellan was deprived of his command by his government,
and was succeeded by General Burnside.

Gencral'Burnside finding that General Lee was deter-
mined to prevent him from passing the upper Rappahan-
nock, resolved to move his army lower down, cross the
river at Fredericksburg, and throw himself between Rich-
mond and General Lee. He at once began to move his


army down the Rappahannock, hoping by attracting Lee's
attention in another direction' to accomplish this move-
ment in secrecy. But General Lee was watching him
closely, and as soon as he was satisfied as to the inten-
tions of the federal commander, moved his army rapidly
towards Fredericksburg.

General Sumner commanded the advanced corps of
General Burnside's army, and when he arrived opposite
Fredericksburg, demanded of the mayor and council the
surrender of the ^ace. This was on the 21st of No-
vember. The city authorities, acting under instructions
from General Lee, refused to comply with the demand.
General Burnside hurried forward with the remainder of
his army, but when he reached the hills of Stafford, op-
posite Fredericksburg, found the army of General Lee
occupying the heights in the rear of the town.*

General Burnside determined to make the Rappahan-
nock his base of operations against Richmond, and for-
tified his position. The hills in the rear of Fredericks-
burg were strongly fortified by the confederates, and for
some time the two armies lay watching each other.

General Lee being satisfied as to the intentions of
General Burnside, directed General Jackson's corps to-
join him.

General Jackson left the Valley about the 1st of De-

x_ When the demand for the surrender of Fredericksburg was re-
ceived, the federal commander was asked for time to obtain an an-
swer from General Lee. General Sumner replied that the request
could not be granted — " the delay would be too great ; General Lee
was at least^a hundred miles away." When he was informed that
General Lee's forces were bnt ihref mil t.'.'e (ow,-:..he seemed

ove.-'.vhelajcd with .-.



cember, and by a rapid march, reached Fredericksburg
soon afterwards.

On the 11th of December, General Burnside crossed
the Rappahannock and occupied Fredericksburg.

The army of General Lee was posted on the hills

which lie in the rear of the town, and which enclose it

in almost a semi-circle, the centre being about four miles

from the river. The country between the hills and the

river is to a great extent open and very little broken.

Immediately above the town and on ihe left of the con-
federate position, the bluffs are .bold and without trees or
undergrowth. As the range of hills extends to the east-
ward, the elevation decreases, and they become more
thickly wooded. The left was within rifle range of the
town, and by far the strongest point of the line. The
centre and right were weaker, the enemy enjoying many
advantages in attacking them of which they were de-
prived on the left. The left was held by General Long-
street's corps, while Jackson was posted on the right.
The order of the various divisions, proceeding from left
to right, was as follows : " Anderson's on the extreme left,
afterwards Ransom's, McLaws', Pickett's and Hood's —
these comprising Longstreet's corps ; then A. P. Hill's
and Taliaferro's of Jackson's corps. The cavalry under
General Stuart were posted on the extreme right of the
line, which stretched along the hills from Fredericksburg
(on the left), to the Massaponax creek (on the right).
Eweli's (now under Early) and D. H. Hill's divisions had
been stationed near Port Royal to prevent a passage of
the river at that point by the enemy, and as soon as
Burnside revealed his intentions, were ordered back.
They reached the field about 9 o'clock on the morning of


the battle, and took position on the right to act as a sup-
port to the rest of Jackson's corps.

About 9 o'ciock on the morning of the 13th of De-
cember, the enemy advanced a heavy column, estimated
at 55,000 strong, to attack General Jackson's position,
their movement being partially concealed by a heavy fog
that overhung the entire field, but which was gradually
lifting. General A. P. Hill had" been posted with his
division at Hamilton's crossings — the centre of the con-
federate line— and upon this poiut the federal attack was .

As soon as the. enemy were seen approaching, General
Stuart moved forward his horse artillery under Major
Pelham, and opening an enfilading fire upon them-, doing
great execution. At the same time the troops of General
Hill became hotly engaged. The confederates had the
advantage in position, but the enemy greatly outnum-
bered them. Twice the enemy furiously assailed General
Jackson's position. About one o'clock two of Hill's
brigades were driven back upon his' second line, and the
enemy succeeded in occupying a portion of the woods on
the crest. But their success was of short duration, for
Early hurrying forward with a part of his division, fell
upon them with fury, drove them from the hill and across,
the plain below, and only ceased his pursuit when his
men came under the fire of the fedfraj batteries. The
right of the enemy's column, extending beyond Hill's
front, took possession of a copse of woods in front of the
position of General Hood, but were quickly driven from
it with loss.

Soon after the repulse of the attack on the right, the
enemy made a furious charge, upon the Southern left


under General Longstreet. They approached gallantly — ■
the Irish division being in the advance. These troops
fought with desperation, but in vain. From Marye's hill,
Walton's guns and McLaws' infantry hurled a fearful fire
upon thein, and swept them back with torn and shattered
ranks into the town. About dark, the" enemy made a last
assault upon the hill, supported by a terrible fire from
the federal batteries on the opposite side of the river.
They were again repulsed and driven into •the town.

The losses sustained by the enemy in these several
attacks were very great, and the remnants of that splendid
army, which had so vauntingly crossed the Rappahan-
nock, crowded at night into Fredericksburg' in the great-
est demoralization and confusion. They ran through the
streets and cowered in the cellars, positively refusing to
go back to the field again. Had General Lee opened his
guns upon the- town that night, a perfect massacre and
the destruction of the greater portion of the federal army
would have ensued.

The next day General Burnside gave orders for- a sec-
ond advance upon the confederate lines, but the troops
refused to obey them ; aud his general officers represent-
ing this to him, induced him to recall his orders. The
day was spent in burying the dead and caring for the
wounded. On Monday, the 15th, the • enemy continued
in Fredericksburg^ nut made no demonstration, and at
night, under the cover of a severe storm, recrossed the
river. g

The confederate loss in this engagement was about
1,8P0, including Generals T. R. R. Cobb and Gregg.
The enemy's loss has been estimated. at from twenty to
twenty-five thousand men, including Generals Bayard


and Jackson killed, and several generals wounded, and
1,626 prisoners. •

During the battle, General Jackson was conspicuous
for his gallantry. Just before the action began, he rode
along the lines dressed in a handsome new uniform, the
gift of a friend. It was his habit to dress very plainly,
and his men had grown accustomed to watch for their gen-
eral just before a battle began, never failing to recognize
him by the old slouched hat and the faded gray uniform,
when too far oft* to distinguish his features. Never before
had they failed to shout until the heavens rung, when
they saw him approach. Now they glanced carelessly at
the officer in the handsome uniform, and gazed impa-
tiently up and down the lines, wondering why " Old
Stonewall" did not appear. After he had passed them,
it became known to them that the officer in the fine uni-
form was their general, and they gave vent to many ex-
clamations of regret at having suffered him to pass them
without cheering him.

It is related of him, that as the action began, he was
standing by General Lee, watching the advance of the
enemy. The gallant Pelham was bravely contending
against a heavy fire from the federal batteries. Turning
to, General Jackson, General Lee exclaimed:

" It is inspiriting to see such glorious courage in one
so young."

General Jackson replied in his quiet, firm way :

" With a Pelham upon either flank, I could vanquish
the world."

Shortly after this, General Longstreet asked him,
smilingly, as he pointed to the federal column which was
approaching to attack the right :' .


" Are you not scared by that file of yankees you have
before, you, down there ?"

"Wait till they come a little nearer," replied General
Jackson, "and they shall either scare me, or I'll scare

At a critical period of the engagement, General Lee
sent an aid with an order to General Jackson. The offi-
cer was searching for him in the midst of a heavy fire
from thp enemy, when he heard some one exclaim :

" Dismount, sir ! dismount! You will certainly be
killed there !"

Glancing around, he saw General Jackson lying flat
upon his back on the ground, while the balls were whist-
ling all around him. Alighting, he gave him General
Lee's order. Making the officer lie down by him, Gene-
ral Jackson read the message, and turning over wrote a
reply. Handing it to the aid, he resumed his original
position in- the coolest and most unconcerned manner

, During this battle there was witnessed a spectacle,
which, although it was now so familiar to the men, was
unsurpassed by any seen that day. Riding forward a
short distance in front of the army, and uncovering his
head, and raising his eyes to heaven, General Jackson
prayed the God of battles to be with the army that day.
The troops looked on with softened hearts, and it would
have fared badly with the wretch who could have dared
to make light of such a scene in the presence of one of
Jackson's men.

After the battle of Fredericksburg, the army continued
to hold its position on the hills, awaiting the advance of
the enemy. General Jackson busied himself in looking


after his men and trying to make them comfortable. He
also availed himself of this opportunity to prepare his
official reports of his campaigns.

During the second session of the first congress, (early
in 1863), the president was authorized to confer upon a
certain number of officers of the army the rank of lieu-
tenant-general. As soon as this law was passed, the
president conferred upon General Jackson (among others)
the new rank.

Late in April, the movements of General Hooker, now
in command of the federal army, began to assume a sig-
nificant character, and it became evident that a <xreat

battle was soon to be fought.

One evening late in April, General Jackson was con-
.versing with a member of his staff, and giving his rea-
sons for believing tha't a great battle was at hand* As
the conversation progressed, he became unusually excited.
Suddenly pausing, he was silent for some moments, and
then said humbly and reverently, " My trust is in God. ? '
Then, the true spirit of the warrior rising within him, he
raised himself to his full height, and exclaimed proudly,
while his noble features glowed with enthusiasm — "I
wish they would come !"

Having determined to cross the Rappahannock, Gene-
ral Hooker began to put his plan into execution. On the
28th of April he crossed a column under General Sedg-
wick, at Deep run below Fredericksburg, and in front of
General Early's position. After severe skirmishing,
Early forced this column to remain close to the shore of
the river. Hoping to divert General Lee's attention to
the column at Deep run, and thus conceal his own move-
ments, General Hooker, after leaving a strong corps at


Falmouth, moved his main army about twenty-five miles
.up the Rappahannock, and crossed the river. The column
at Deep run was then withdrawn to the Stafford side. It
was General Hooker's intention to occupy a strong posi-
tion above Fredericksburg, and thus force General Lee
either to submit to an attack in his rear, or to leave his
works on the Spotsylvania hills and come out and fight
him in the open field, where he hoped that his 'superior
numbers would give him the victory. As soon as General
Lee should advance to meet him, Sedgwick was to cross
the river at Fredericksburg and fall upon Lee's flank.
In order to cut off General Lee's communications with
Richmond and deprive him of assistance, General Stone-
man, with the federal cavalry, was to fall suddenly lipon
the Fredericksburg and Central railroads, destroy them,,
and fchen do what other damage he could.

About noon on the 29th of April,' General Lee was
informed that a large force of the enemy had crossed the
Rappahannock at Kelly's and Ellis' fords, and were press-
ing towards Ely's and Germanna fords on the Rapidan.
Two small brigades Of Anderson's division (Posey's and
Mahone's) had been stationed for some time at these
points to guard the approaches to Fredericksburg. Un-
able to stand before the pressure of Hooker's heavy
columns, they retired to Chancellorsville, where they de-
termined to make a stand. General Wright was at once
ordered to their assistance, and reached Chancellorsville
at daylight on the morning of the 30th. General An-
derson had come up during the night, and having received
more accurate information respecting the strength of the
enemy, determined to fall back to a point five miles
nearer Fredericksburg, where the road leading from Uni-


ted States ford, (called the old Mine road) crosses the
Orange and Fredericksburg plank road. This point was
reached about 8 o'clock in the morning, and General An-
derson, disposing his forces in line of battle, resolved to
hold his position until he could receive assistance from
General Lee. His force consisted of scarcely more than
five thousand men, while Hooker brought with Kim nearly
his whole army. The enemy halted at Chancellorsville.

The position held by the army of General Hooker was
very strong. His left rested at Ghancellprsville, while
his right stretched away towards Wilderness creek.

Chancellorsville consists of one large brick house, and
is situated about fifteen miles west of Fredericksburg
and four miles southwest of the Rapidan, at the point
where the main road from Ely's ford falls into the plank
road. About four or five miles west of Chancellorsville,
is a rugged country covered with a thick, tangled and
apparently impenetrable • growth of stunted oaks, called
the Wilderness. Scattered here and there through this
Wilderness are cleared spots, varying in size from fifty
to one hundred acres. . Through the midst of these woods
winds a narrow and tortuous road. Upon the cleared
spots General Hooker erected strong breastworks, and
behind them posted his artillery and infantry. To ap-
proach these works, an attacking force must either ad-
vance by the road, which could be- swept by the artillery,
or force their way through the woods. A stronger posi-
tion could not have* been chosen, and it is no wonder Gcn- t
oral Hooker considered it "impregnable." . Strong in-
trenchments had also been thrown up in the vicinity of
Chancellorsville, and, thus prepared. General Hoo!
' f\ I isfc.



As soon as he heard of General Anderson's situation,
General Lee ordered General Jackson to leave one divi-
sion of his corps to hold the works at Fredericksburg,
and to march with the o.ther three (A. P. Hill's., under
that general's command ; D. H. Hill's, under General
Rodes ; and Trimble's under General Colston) to Ander-
son's position, to take command of Anderson's and part
of McLaws' divisions, and " attack and repulse the

Leaving Early's division before Fredericksburg, he
reached Anderson's position the next morning. Ander-
son's division was placed in iron* and two brigades of
McLaws' division sent forward on .the United States' ford
road. Posey's, Wright's, and shortly afterwards Ran-
seur's brigades were formed in line of battle on both sides
of the road, at the head of the column, and the com-
mand advanced towards the enemy.

As General Jackson approached Chancellorsville, some
slight skirmishing occurred between his advanced forces
and those of the enemy.

The day was now far advanced, and General Jackson,
ordering a halt, spent the rest of the afternoon in bring-
ing up his command and assigning them to the positions
they were to occupy the next day.

General Lee arrived at night, and the plan of opera-
tions for the coming day was arranged. It was necessary
to act promptly. Sedgewick Was hovering suspiciously
t about Fredericksburg, and might at any moment drive
back the little force left to check him, and advance to
Hooker's assistance. It was impossible to gain anything
by an^attack upon Hooker's front, as its great strength
would enable a very small force to hold it. General'


Jackson proposed to move his corps to the left, attack
Hooker's right and force it back upon Chancellorsville,
and General Lee gave his sanction to the proposition.

The night was quite cool. Seeing General Jackson
without covering or protection of any kind, one of his
aids offered him his cape, and after much persuasion in-
duced him to accept it. During the night he was fearful
that? the young man might take cold from being deprived
of his cape, and rising softly, threw it over him as he lay
asleep, and then lying down again, passed the night with-
out any thing around him. This produced a cold, which
afterwards resulted in pneumonia. He was always careful
of the comfort of others, even at the sacrifice of his own.

Early the next morning General Jackson began his
movement upon the federal right flank. General Fitz
Lee's brigade of cavalry was thrown towards the front
and between the column of General Jackson and the
enemy. This gallant cavalier successfully covered the
movements of General Jackson and prevented the enemy
from gaining any information respecting them.

General Jackson took with him only the three divisions
he had brought with him from Fredericksburg, and moved
rapidly towards the left to a point called the " Furnace."
From the " Furnace" he marched still farther to the left,
and passing around the federal right flank, moved through
the tangled undergrowth of the Wilderness until he
reached Germanna ford on the Rapidan. He was now
completely in the rear of the enemy, and his presence
was entirely unsuspected by them.

Ascending a hill in the vreinity, he obtained an excel-
lent view of the enemy's position, and hastening to. hi ■;
command, prepared to attack the enemy.


The road by which he determined to advance upon
them was the old turnpike, which led directly to the fed-
eral rear. Rode's division was formed in line of battle
in front ; Hill followed at a distance of three hundred
yards, and Colston marched behind Hill at the same dis-
tance from him. The undergrowth was so thick, that
Hill's and Colston's commands were afterwards marched
in column along the road, and only Rodes advanced in
line of battle. The ground was so swampy, that the ar-
tillery was forced to 'march in column on the road.

Marching rapidly down the old turnpike, General Jack-
son extended his line to the left, intending to cut off the
federal forces from the United States fords and crush

The enemy's force on his right consisted of the elev-
enth army corps, under General Howard — formerly com-
manded by Seigel. .They were strongly posted.

Up to this moment the federals had received no inti-
mation of General Jackson's approach, and his attack
took them completely by surprise, and filled them with

Moving forward rapidly, General Jackson made a furi-
ous assault upon the federal line and swept it fiercely
before him. The suddenness and impetuosity of {he
attack demoralized the enemy, and in a short time a
whole army corps was routed.

A yankee correspondent of a New York paper, thus
describes the scene :

" The flying Germans came dashing over the field in
crowds, stampeding and running as only men do run when
convinced that sure destruction is awaiting them. I must
confess that I have no ability to do justice to the scenes


that followed. It was my lot to be in the centre of the
field when the panic burst upon us. ' May I never be a
witness to another such scene* On one hand was a solid
column of infantry retreating at double-quick ; on the
other was a dense mass of human beings who were flying
as fast as their legs could carry them, followed up by the
rebels pouring their murderous volleys upon us, yelling
and hooting to increase the confusion ; hundreds of cav-

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Online LibraryJames Dabney McCabeThe life of Thomas J. Jackson → online text (page 12 of 14)