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Life of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson) online

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line (jf battle, Hill on the right, Ewell in the centre, and his
old division on the left, and advanced to the assault. The
enemy, knowing that the salvation of their army depended
upon them, made a desperate resistance, and the combat


assumed a sudden fury in the front of Hill, equal to that
of any previous strug,i;ie. The enemy ^vere encouraged by
a momentary success in breaking Hayes' brigade, but his
lines were immediately reinstated by the reserves, and after
a short but bloody strife, the battle died away as suddenly
as it had begun, and the enemy retired in the darkness.
This affair, which was known as the battle of Ox Hill,
closed the evening of September 1st. Its thunders were
aggravated by those of a tempest, ■which burst upon the
combatants just before the battle was joined, and the Con-
federates fought under the disadvantage of the rain, "\Yhich
was swept by a violent wind directly into their faces. Two
Federal Generals fell here, in front of Hill's division,
Kearney and Stephens, and their death doubtless com-
pleted the discouragement of their troops. The next morn-
ing, the Federalists were within reach of their powerful
works before Washington, and the pursuit was arrested.
The Commander-in-Chief now proposed to transfer the
strife to a new arena.

The total loss of the Confederate army in this series of
battles was about seven thousand five hundred, of whom
eleven hundred were killed upon the field. Of this loss,
nearly five thousand fell upon the corps of Jackson ; out
of which number eight hundred and five officers and men
were killed. The captures from him, in the whole of the
long struggle, amounted to only thirty-five. The excessive
loss in his command is explained by the fact that it was
always the advance, and that the enemy continually
directed the chief fury of his attacks upon him. The re-
sults of the battle of Manassas were the capture of seven


thousand prisoners, in addition to two thousand wounded
left in the hands of the Confederates ; with twenty thou-
sand small arms, thkty pieces of artillery, numerous
colours, and a large amount of stores ; and the deliverance
of Nortliern Virginia from the footsteps of the invader,
save where he stiU clung to a few miles along the Potomac
included within his works. General Jackson closed his
report of the campaign with these words : —

" For these gTcat and signal victories our sincere and
humble thanks are due unto Almighty God. We should
in all things acknowledge the hand of Him who reigns in
heaven, and rules among the armies of men. In view of
the arduous labours and great privations the troops were
called to endure, and the isolated and perilous position
which the command occupied, while engaged with greatly
superior numbers of the enemy, we can but express the
grateful conviction of our mind, that God was with us, and
gave us the victory ; and unto His holy name be the

Few words are needed to point out the share which
Jackson and his corps merited, in the glory of the second
victory of Manassas. To the rapidity of his march, the
promptitude and skill of his action in seizing and destroy-
ing the Junction, the wisdom which guided his selection
of a position, and the heroic tenacity with which he held
it against fearful odcls until the arrival of General Lee, was
the splendid result chiefly due. It was so ordered, as if to
illustrate the superior prowess of the Confederate soldiery,
that in this battle the positions of the combatants in July
1861 were almost precisely reversed. The ground heldhy


Jackson in the second battle was that held by M'Dowell
in the first ; and the ground from which the Confederates
drove Pope at nightfall, the 30tli of August, was that from
which M'Dowell could not drive them on the 21st of
July ; while the preponderance of numbers was still upon
the Federal side.

The blunders of Pope in this short campaign, — which
were almost as numerous as it was possible to make them,
— are an instructive study to the commanders of armies.
First, it was little short of lunacy to adopt, in Culpepper,
a line of operations along the Orange Eailroad, and even
west of it, which was parallel to the Eapidan, the tem -
porary base of the Confederates, in the presence of such
masters of the art of war as Lee and Jackson. Instead of
extending his right so far toward Jladison, with the pre-
posterous design of turning Gordonsville, upon the west,
he should have directed the head of his column toward the
lower course of the Eapidan, and perpendicular to it. He
would thus have covered his own line of advance ; and, if
he succeeded in crossing that riA-er, would have uncovered
the communications of his adversary, which would then
have been by the Central Eailroad. ISTothing but the delay
of Lee's reserves in reaching Eaccoon Ford saved Pope
here from a disaster far worse than that of Manassas.
Second, after retiring across the Eappahannock, which
was a mea.sure dictated by so stringent a necessity that a
fool could not err therein, he repeated the old but seduc-
tive folly of attempting to hold a river as a defensive line,
by extending his whole force along its immediate bank to
watch and resist the passage of his opponent. Although a



river is, to some extent, a barrier to the assailant attempt-
ing to cross it in tlie face of a force defending it ; yet, if
the latter consigns itself to the stationary defensive along
its banks, the other is always enabled thereby to baffle his
vigilance at some one point ; or to mass at a single spot a
preponderance of force which x^iU. more than compensate
him for the resistance of the natural obstruction, and break
its way over it. Tlien the barrier, broken at one point,
becomes useless, and must be forsaken at all. Such was
the result here ; the stream was passed above Pope's right
before he was in condition to prevent it. His next mis-
take was in the singular inefficiency of his cavalry, which
seems to have been more busy in harrying the hen-roosts
of the citizens, than in ascertaining whither the swift-
footed Jackson was bent, when he disajjpeared to the north-
west from his position before Warrenton Springs. Thus
Pope was left in a shameful ignorance, even after his com-
munications were cut at Pristoe Station, wdiether it was
done by a serious force, or by an audacious incursion of
horse. But on the evening of the 27th, at least, he was
taught, in a bloody lesson by Ewell, that he had a formid-
able foe in his rear. The plainest deduction might have
convinced him that such a general as Lee would not have
placed such a body of infantry and artillery, as he saw
grimly confronting him across Broad Run at tlie close of
that combat, so far from its base, without powerful sup-

From that moment the goal of safety for Pope should
have been Centreville ; and he should have lost no time
in concentrating his whole army, by forced marches, to


strike the formidable obstruction from his rear, and secure
his retreat thither. There he would have been front to
front with his adversary once more, and within reach of
the support of M'Clellan, by whose aid he might have
advanced again, and quickly resumed his lost ground.
But although it is but one march from Warrenton, where
his headquarters were, to Manassas, two and a half
precious days were wasted between the 26th, when Jack-
son struck Bristoe, and the 29th, when Longstreet reached
his right ; and neither was Jackson crushed, nor Thorough-
fare Gap effectually held, nor the army safely transferred
to Centreville. At mid-day on the 29th, the arrival of
Longstreet rendered his fortunes difficult enough ; but, as
though he were intent to make them desperate, when his
left was incommoded by the appearance of Longstreet's
column behind it, instead of retiring squarely from his
antagonists, keeping his right upon Bull Eun, nntH his
left met the support of the approaching column of Fitz-
John Porter, from Aquia, he weakly sought to disengage
his left, by manceuvring to his right, and again confining
Ills onset to the lines of Jackson. These were skilfully
retracted, to lead him into the trap ; and the result was,
that on the third and decisive day he was compelled to
fight with the stream in his immediate rear, and with
his whole army enclosed within the limits of the fatal
fourchettc. The Confederates might well pray that
such leaders should ever command the armies of their

This chapter will be closed with a characteristic letter
from General Jackson to his wife :- -


"September 1st, 1862.

" We were engaged with the enemy at and near
Manassa's Junction Tuesday and Wednesday, and again
near the battle-field of Manassa's on Thursday, Friday,
and Saturday, in all of which God was with us, and gave
us the victory. All glory be to His holy name ! May He
ever be with us, is my earnest prayer, and we ever be His
devoted people. It greatly encourages me to feel that so
many of God's people are praying for that part of om
forces under my command. The Lord has answered their
prayers ; and my trust is in Him, that He will still con-
tinue to do so. God, in His providence, lias agaui placed
us across Bull Eun ; and I pray that He will make our
arms entirely successful, and that the glory will be given
to His holy name, and none of it to man.

" God has blessed and preserved me through His great

Thus his soul dwelt habitually upon the plain and
familiar promises of gospel blessings, with a simplicity of
faith like that of the little child. He did not entertain
his mind with theological refinements and pretended pro-
fundities or novelties, but fed it with those known truths
which are the common nourishment of all God's people,
wise and simple, and which are, therefore, the greatest
truths of redemption. The eminence of his Christian
character was not in that he affected to see doctrines
unknown or recondite to others ; but in this, that he em-
braced the doctrines common to all, with a faith so entire
and prevalent. This character of his religion often siig-


gested to those less spiritually miaded than himself the
opinion that his was a commonplace understanding.
They forgot that it is by receiving the kingdom of God as
a little child that we must enter therein. When they met
Jackson in council or in action, in his own profession, they
soon learned their mistake, and recognised in him the
original force and power of true greatness.




The Confederates had abundant reason to be satisfied
with the results of the summer's operations. With an
aggregate of about eighty thousand men in all Virginia,
they had rescued the State from the grasp of il'Clellan,
with his two hundred and twenty-three thousand. No
invaders now polluted its soil, save at the fortified posts
along the coast, where they were protected by their over-
whelming naval forces, at Alexandria, and at Harper's
Ferry, and Martinsburg, in the Great VaUey. The power-
ful expedition of Burnside had been recalled from North
Carolina, leaving no fruits of its exertions in the hands of
his Government, except the occupation of a few feeble
places. The "grand army" had been reduced by battle,
desertions, captures, and sickness from its huge propor-
tions, so that jNI'Clellan was now able to set in the field
only ninety thousand men, by concentrating all those parts
which had lately outnumbered and oppressed the Con-
federates, from the extreme west of Maryland to the capes
of the Carolinian coast. The grateful people of the South
might well exclaim with Jackson, in view of so grand a
deliverance : " Behold ! what hath God Avrought !"


General Lee now determined to pursue his advantages
by invading the country of his enemy ia turn, and thus
giving such occupation to him as would secure to A^irginia,
during the remainder of the season, a respite from the cruel
devastations it had so long suffered. The temper of the
South demanded it, swelling with the grief of its mighty
wrongs, and hungering for righteous retribution. Wise
policy dictated that the soil of A'irginia should, if possible,
be relieved of the burden of the iavading and the patriot
armies, which it had so long borne, and that their ravages
should be retorted upon the aggressor, ilaryland, it was
known, had succumbed reluctantly to his yoke, and the
hope was entertained that the presence of the southern
army would inspirit its people to attempt something in aid
of their own liberation ; or that, at least, the well-grounded
fears of the despot lest their discontent should endanger
his Capital, would detain so large a force to defend it and
to hold them prostrate, that his army in the field might be
defeated upon their own soil, and a successful incursion
might carry a wholesome terror into the heart of Pennsyl-
vania. The two veteran divisions of E. H. Anderson and
D. H. HiU had now overtaken the main army, diminished
indeed by the losses of the peninsular compaign, but iii
excellent condition. Indeed, the former of these had
reached Manassa's plains on the 30th of August, early
enough to support Longstreet's centre in its decisive ad-
vance against Pope. The fragments of his army, reinforced
by M'CleUan, were now ensconced within their lines near
Alexandria, under the skilful direction of the latter gene-
ral ; and to attack them there would be attended with too


prodigal a waste of patriot "blood. General Lee therefore
determined to turn aside and promptly cross the Potomac.
But notwithstanding the accessions he had just received,
he was made conscious, in the very attempt, of that cruel
disparity of means and numliers which robbed the Con-
federates of the larger part of the fruits of their heroism.
The invasion of Maryland, he well knew, would stimulate
that recruiting of the depleted armies of the enemy, which
their population made so easy ; while he could expect no
material increase of his force. They would operate along
great railroads, and sustain their troops with a lavish
supply of transportation, stores, and ammunition, from
their vast depots just at hand. He had now left his rail-
road communication far behind, and must provide for the
wants of his army with scanty trains of waggons ; while
ordnance, clothing, and shoes were deficient, and impossible
to obtain in adequate quantities. No generals, therefore,
ever adopted a bolder project than that of Lee and Jackson,
or executed it with greater promptitude. The battle of
Ox Hill ended at nightfall, September 1st, amidst thunder,
tempest, and a deluge of rain. On the 2d the last remains
of the beaten Federals were whipped in under the shelter
of their ramparts. On the 3d the Confederate army was
upon the march for the fords of the Potomac !

The invasion determined on, two places offered them-
selves to General Lee for penetrating into Maryland. If
he removed his army directly across the Blue Eidge to the
Lower Valley, he could easily brush away the force which
occupied Martinsburg ; when the valley of central Penn-
sylvania would lie open before him, and his own hne of


communication could be establislied with the Central
Vhsinia Railroad at Staunton, alonj,' that still abundant
country. Or else he might cross the Potomac between the
Federal fortifications and the Blue Eidge, and entering the
middle regions of Slaryland, proceed as the movements of
the enemy should indicate. He adopted the latter plan.
His purpose was first to draw the Federal army from the
Virginian bank by violently threatening their Capital and
Baltimore, from the other side, so that his field hospitals
at Manassa's Plains, his own communications toward
Orange, and the important work of removing his prisoners,
wounded, and spoils from the scene of his late triumphs
might be reheved from their incursions for a season. He
also hoped that when the head of his gxeat column began
to insinuate itself between Washington and Harper's Ferry,
the Federal detachment at the latter place would act upon
the obvious dictate of the military art, evacuate that place
to him without a struggle, and rethe into communication
with their friends ; thus clearing his left of that annoyance.
His purpose was then to move toward Western Maryland
and Central Pennsylvania, establish his communications
with the valley of Virginia, and drawing the Federalists
afar from their base at Washington, fight them beyond the
mountains. He therefore put the army in motion, Sep-
tember the 3d, with the cavalry of Stuart and the fresh
division of D. H. Hill in front, followed by the corps of
Jackson, which still formed the body of the advanced force.
He marched to Drainsville that day, and to Leesburg, the
county-seat of Loudoun, the 4th of September, On the
5th, the corps passed the Potomac, at "White's Ford, near


Edwards' Ferry, a few miles distant, just below the scene
of the bloody repulse of Ball's Bluff, and established them-
selves upon the soil of Maryland without opposition. At
this place the great river spreads itself out to the width of
more than half a mile, over a pebbly and level bed ; and
its floods, reduced in volume by the summer heats, were
but two or three feet deep. The infantry, and even the
cannoneers, passed by wading through the water. All day
long the column poured across, belting the shining river
with a thin, dark line ; and as the feet of the men were
planted upon the northern bank, they uttered their enthu-
siasm in hearty cheers. JNIany a gallant man who now
touched that soil was destined to sleep, till the last day,
within it, in a stranger's grave. The first care of the Con-
federates, after gaining the northern bank, was to interrupt
the navigation of the canal effectually, by destroying its
locks and opening the embankments, so that the waters
escaped and left its bed dry. Jackson then advanced
northward, and on the 6th of September occupied the
Baltimore and Ohio Eailroad, and the flourishing town of
Frederick. The arrival of the Confederates in Maryland
awakened in a part of the population a faint glow of
enthusiasm. A committee of citizens met General Jackson
with the present of a costly horse, and a few hundreds of
the young men enlisted in the patriot army. But the
opinions of the people in the upper regions of the State
were divided, and the major part merely acquiesced in the
occupation of the country with a truckling caution. Gene-
ral Jackson employed the most stringent measm-es against
stragglmg, and every outrage ; and established in the town


a police so strict, that its citizens were almost unconscious
of the inconveniencies of hostile occupation. Two appear-
ances were now manifest in strong contrast, which have
not failed to re-appear at every return of the Confederate
army to the northern soil ; on their part a generous for-
bearance and respect for private rights, almost incredible
in men who had left their own homes desolated by out-
rages so diabolical ; and on the part of the so-called Union
population, a disgusting brutality, which declared itself
incompetent even to comprehend their magnanimity, by
imputing it uniformly to fear.

All direct communication between Washington and
Harper's Ferry was now severed. The first effect which
General Lee hoped from his movement was immediately
gained. M'Clellan, who was placed by the ^'erbal request
of Lincoln in supreme command, began at once to with-
draw his troops to the north bank of the Potomac ; and the
Confederate rear was delivered fi'om all serious annoyance,
save the insults of flying parties of cavalry. The other con-
sequence, the evacuation of Harper's Ferry and Martins -
burg, would also have followed, if the sound discretion of
il'CleUan had prevailed. No sooner had he fuUy dis-
covered General Lee's drift, than he requested of Halleck
that the troops there and at Harper's Ferry, useless and in
peril where they were, should be withdrawn and brought
into connexion with him. His advice was disregarded,
and the speedy capture of both those detachments evinced
at once the soundness of his counsel and the soundness of
General Lee's expectation, that his advance on Frederick
ought naturally to result in the peaceable occupation of


Harper's Ferry by the Confederates. The blunder of the
Federalists in remaining there did, indeed, exert an un-
foreseen and indirect influence in favour of their army, as
will ajipear in the sequel ; but, as it was one which -was
not designed by either Halleck or M'Clellan, it does not
acquit the former of these generals from the charge of an
error of judgment. This commander was now seized with
a panic for the safety of Washington, which obfuscated his
own senses, and obstructed, for a time, every effort of
M'Clellan to act with vigour against the invaders. He
was haunted with the fear that the march into Maryland
was a feint, — that only a small detacliment was there,
while the bulk of their army was somehow hidden away
in some livibus in the woods of Fairfax, whence the terrible
Jackson would suddenly emerge, seize the lines of Arling-
ton while denuded of their defenders, and thunder witli
his cannon upon the White House. Again, he imagined
that he would suddenly recross the Potomac somewhere
in the mountains, march down its southern bank, pass it
a third time below M'Clellan's army, and, approaching
Washington by its north side, capture the place, with the
precious persons of the President and his mhiions before
the latter general could turn about. A few days after,
when he heard that Jackson M^as indeed passing to the
south side of the Potomac at WiUiamsport, a hundred
miles away, he was sure that the catastrophe was at hand.
Plence, he detained M'Clellan in his march ; he entreated
him not to proceed far from the Capital ; he warned him
to look well to his endangered left. These fancies of the
Generalissimo are of interest only as showing the convic-


tion of Jackson's enemies, that there was nothing that was
not within reach of his rapid audacity, and as evincing
how happily his prowess confounded tlieir counsels.

These uncertain and dilatory movements of the enemy
gave General Jackson a respite from the 6th to the 10th
of September, at Frederick, which he improved in resting
and refitting his command. The day after his arrival was
the Sabbath. Such was the . order and discipline of the
invading army, that all the churches were opened, and the
people attended their worship, with their wives and
children, as in profound peace. Jackson himself ap-
peared in the German Eeformed Church, as a devout
worshipper. He expressed to his wife his lively delight
in participating in the divine service again, after so many
weeks of privation, with a regular Christian assembly, and
in a commodious temple consecrated to God.

Meantime his cavalry, under the gallant Colonel ]\Iun-
ford, with some supporting force, observed the approaches
of the enemy on the side of Washington. This officer,
who had just distinguished himself on the plains of
Manassas ia the most brilliant cavalry charge of the war,
skirmished daily with the enemy's advance ; and, as their
masses began to press more heavily upon him, fell back
toward Frederick. The whole Confederate army had
arrived there, and was encamped near the town. General
Lee now assembled his leading generals in council, to de-
vise a plan of operations for the approaching shock of
arms. Harper's Ferry had not been evacuated, as he
hoped. His first design of withdrawing his army in a
body towards Western Maryland, for the purpose of


threatening Pennsylvania, and figliting M'Clellan upon
ground of liis own selection, was now beset with this
difficulty : that its execution would leave the garrison at
Harper's Ferry to re-open their communications with their
friends, to receive an accession of strength, and to sit upon
his flank, threatening his new line of supply up the valley
of Virginia. Two other plans remained : the one was to
leave Harper's Ferry to itself for the present, to con-
centrate the whole army in a good position, and fight

Online LibraryRobert Lewis DabneyLife of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson) → online text (page 21 of 37)