Soon after the battle of Bull Run Stonewall Jackson was promoted to major-general, and the
Confederate Government having on the 21st of October, 1861, organized the Department of
Northern Virginia, under command of General Joseph E. Johnston, it was divided into the Valley
District, the Potomac District, and Aquia District, to be commanded respectively by
Major-Generals Jackson, Beauregard, and Holmes. On October 28th General Johnston ordered
Jackson to Winchester to assume command of his district, and on the 6th of November the War
Department ordered his old "Stonewall" brigade and 6,000 troops under command of
Brigadier-General W.W. Loring to report to him. These, together with Turner Ashby's cavalry,
gave him a force of 10,000 men all told.
His only movement of note in the winter of 1861-62 was an expedition at the end of December to
Bath and Romney, to destroy the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and a dam or two near Hancock on
the Chesapeake and Ohio canal. The weather set in to be very inclement about New Year's, with
snow, rain, sleet, high winds, and intense cold. Many in Jackson's command were opposed to the
expedition, and as it resulted in nothing of much military importance, but was attended with great
suffering on the part of his troops, nothing but the confidence he had won by his previous services
saved him from personal ruin. He and his second in command, General Loring, had a serious
disagreement. He ordered Loring to take up his quarters, in January, in the exposed and cheerless
village of Romney, on the south branch of the upper Potomac. Loring objected to this, but
Jackson was inexorable. Loring and his principal officers united in a petition to Mr. Benjamin,
Secretary of War, to order them to Winchester, or at least away from Romney. This document
was sent direct to the War Office, and the Secretary, in utter disregard of "good order and
discipline," granted the request without consulting Jackson. As soon as information reached
Jackson of what had been done, he indignantly resigned his commission. Governor Letcher was
astounded, and at once wrote Jackson a sympathetic letter, and then expostulated with Mr. Davis
and his Secretary with such vigor that an apology was sent to Jackson for their obnoxious course.
The orders were revoked and modified, and Jackson was induced to retain his command. This
little episode gave the Confederate civil authorities an inkling of what manner of mall "Stonewall"
In that terrible winter's march and exposure, Jackson endured all that any private was exposed to.
One morning, near Bath, some of his men, having crawled out from under their snow-laden
blankets, half-frozen, were cursing him as the cause of their sufferings. He lay close by under a
tree, also snowed under, and heard all this; and, without noticing it, presently crawled out, too,
and, shaking the snow off, made some jocular remark to the nearest men, who had no idea he had
ridden up in the night and lain down amongst them. The incident ran through the little army in a
few hours, and reconciled his followers to all the hardships of the expedition, and fully
reestablished his popularity.
In March Johnston withdrew from Manassas, and General McClellan collected his army of more
than 100,000 men on the Peninsula. Johnston moved south to confront him. McClellan had
planned and organized a masterly movement to capture, hold, and occupy the Valley and the
Piedmont region; and if his subordinates had been equal to the task, and there had been no
interference from Washington, it is probable the Confederate army would have been driven out of
Virginia and Richmond captured by midsummer, 1862.
Jackson's little army in the Valley had been greatly reduced during the winter from various causes,
so that at the beginning of March he did not have over 5,000 men of all arms available for the
defense of his district, which began to swarm with enemies all around its borders, aggregating
more than ten times his own strength. Having retired up the Valley, he learned that the enemy had
begun to withdraw and send troops to the east of the mountains to cooperate with McClellan.
This he resolved to stop by an aggressive demonstration against Winchester, occupied by General
Shields, of the Federal army, with a division of 8,000 to 10,000 men.
On the day of the conflict at Cross Keys [June 8, 1862] I held the bridge across North River at
Mount Crawford with a battalion of cavalry, four howitzers, and a Parrott gun, to prevent a
cavalry flank movement on Jackson's trains at Port Republic. About 10 o'clock at night I received
a note from Jackson, written in pencil on the blank margin of a newspaper, directing me to report
with my command at Port Republic before daybreak. On the same slip, and as a postscript, he
wrote, "Poor Ashby is dead. He fell gloriously... I know you will join with me in mourning the
loss of our friend, one of the noblest men and soldiers in the Confederate army." I carried that slip
of paper till it was literally worn to tatters.
It was early, Sunday, June 8th, when Jackson and his staff reached the bridge at Port Republic.
General E.B. Tyler, who, with two brigades of Shields's division, was near by on the east side of
the river, had sent two guns and a few men under a green and inefficient officer to the bridge.
They arrived about the same time as Jackson, but, his troops soon coming up, the Federal officer
and his supports made great haste back to the Lewis farm, losing a gum at the bridge.
I reached Port Republic an hour before daybreak of June 9th, and sought the house occupied by
Jackson; but not wishing to disturb him so ear]y, I asked the sentinel what room was occupied by
"Sandy" Pendleton, Jackson's adjutant-general. "Upstairs, first room on the right," he replied.
Supposing he meant our right as we faced the house, I went up, softly opened the door, and
discovered General Jackson lying on his face across the bed, fully dressed, with sword, sash, and
boots all on. The low-burnt tallow candle on the table shed a dim light, yet enough by which to
recognize him. I endeavored to withdraw without waking him. He turned over, sat up on the bed,
and called out, "Who is that?"
He checked my apology with "That is all right. It's time to be up. I am glad to see you. Were the
men all up as you came through camp?"
"Yes, General, and cooking."
"That's right. We move at daybreak. Sit down. I want to talk to you."
I had learned never to ask him questions about his plans, for he would never answer such to
anyone. I therefore waited for him to speak first. He referred very feelingly to Ashby's death, and
spoke of it as an irreparable loss. When he paused I said, "General, you made a glorious
winding-up of your four weeks' work yesterday."
He replied, "Yes, God blessed our army again yesterday, and I hope with his protection and
blessing we shall do still better today."
Then seating himself, for the first time in all my intercourse with him, he outlined the day's
proposed operations. I remember perfectly his conversation. He said: "Charley Winder
[Brigadier-General commanding his old 'Stonewall' brigade] will cross the river at daybreak and
attack Shields on the Lewis farm [two miles below]. I shall support him with all the other troops
as fast as they can be put in line. General 'Dick' Taylor will move through the woods on the side
of the mountain with his Louisiana brigade, and rush upon their left flank by the time the action
becomes general. By 10 o'clock we shall get them on the run, and I'll now tell you what I want
with you. Send the big new rifle-gun you have [a 12-pounder Parrott] to Poague [commander of
the Rockbridge artillery] and let your mounted men report to the cavalry. I want you in person to
take your mountain howitzers to the field, in some safe position in rear of the line, keeping
everything packed on the mules, ready at any moment to take to the mountain-side. Three miles
below Lewis's there is a defile on the Luray road. Shields may rally and make a stand there. If he
does, I can't reach him with the field-batteries on account of the woods. You can carry your
12-pounder howitzers on the mules up the mountain-side, and at some good place unpack and
shell the enemy out of the defile, and the cavalry will do the rest."
This plan of battle was carried out to the letter. I took position in a ravine about 200 yards in rear
of Poague's battery in the center of the line. General Tyler, who had two brigades of Shields's
division, made a very stubborn fight, and by 9 o'clock matters began to look very serious for us.
Dick Taylor had not yet come down out of the woods on Tyler's left flank.
Meanwhile I was having a remarkable time with our mules in the ravine. Some of the shot aimed
at Poague came bounding over our heads, and occasionally a shell would burst there. The mules
became frantic. They kicked, plunged, and squealed. It was impossible to quiet them, and it took
three or four men to hold one mule from breaking away. Each mule had about 300 pounds weight
on him, so securely fastened that the load could not be dislodged by any of his capers. Several of
them lay down and tried to wallow their loads off. The men held these down, and that suggested
the idea of throwing them all on the ground and holding them there. The ravine sheltered us so
that we were in no danger from the shot or shell which passed over us.
Just about the time our mule "circus" was at its height, news came up the line from the left that
Winder's brigade near the river was giving way. Jackson rode down in that direction to see what it
meant. As he passed on the brink of our ravine, his eye caught the scene, and, reining up a
moment, he accosted me with, "Colonel, you seem to have trouble down there." I made some
reply which drew forth a hearty laugh, and he said, "Get your mules to the mountain as soon as
you can, and be ready to move."
Then he dashed on. He found his old brigade had yielded slightly to overwhelming pressure.
Galloping up, he was received with a cheer; and, calling out at the top of his voice, "The
'Stonewall' brigade never retreats; follow me!" led them back to their original line. Taylor soon
made his appearance, and the flank attack settled the work of the day. A wild retreat began. The
pursuit was vigorous. No stand was made in the defile. We pursued them eight miles. I rode back
with Jackson, and at sunset we were on the battlefield at the Lewis mansion.
Jackson accosted a medical officer, and said, "Have you brought off all the wounded?" "Yes, all
of ours, but not all of the enemy's." "Why not?" "Because we were shelled from across the river."
"Had you your hospital flag on the field?" "Yes." "And they shelled that?" "Yes." "Well, take your
men to their quarters; I would rather let them all die than have one of my men shot intentionally
under the yellow flag when trying to save their wounded."
Fremont, hearing the noise of the battle, had hurried out from near Harrisonburg to help Tyler;
but Jackson had burnt the bridge at Port Republic, after Ewell had held Fremont in check some
time on the west side of the river and escaped, so that when Fremont came in sight of Tyler's
battlefield, the latter's troops had been routed and the river could not be crossed.
The next day I returned to Staunton, and found General W.H.C. Whiting, my old commander
after the fall of General Bee at Bull Run, arriving with a division of troops to reinforce Jackson.
Taking him and his staff to my house as guests, General Whiting left soon after breakfast with a
guide to call on Jackson at Swift Run Gap, near Port Republic, where he was resting his troops.
The distance from Staunton was about 20 miles, but 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, for he is very polite to every one?"
"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 tomorrow. I haven't the slightest idea what they will be. I believe he hasn't
any more sense than my horse."
Seeing his frame of mind, and he being a guest in my house, I said little. Just after breakfast, next
morning, a courier arrived with a terse order to embark his troops on the railroad trains and move
to Gordonsville at once, where he would receive further orders. This brought on a new explosion
of wrath. "Didn't I tell you he was a fool, and doesn't this prove it? Why, I just came through
GordonsvilIe day before yesterday."
However, he obeyed the order; and when he reached Gordonsville he found Jackson there, and his
little Valley army coming after him; a few days later McClellan was astounded to learn that
Jackson was on his right flank on the Chickahominy. Shortly after the seven days' battle around
Richmond, I met Whiting again, and he then said: "I didn't know Jackson when I was at your
house. I have found out now what his plans were, and they were worthy of a Napoleon. But I still
think he ought to have told me his plans; for if he had died McClellan would have captured
Richmond. I wouldn't have known what he was driving at, and might have made a mess of it. But
I take back all I said about his being a fool."
From the date of Jackson's arrival at Staunton till the battle of Port Republic was 35 days. He
marched from Staunton to McDowell, 40 miles, from McDowell to Front Royal, about 110, from
Front Royal to Winchester, 20 miles, Winchester to Port Republic, 75 miles, a total of 245 miles,
fighting in the meantime 4 desperate battles, and winning them all.
On the 17th of June, leaving only his cavalry, under Brigadier-General B.E. Robertson, and
Chew's battery, and the little force I was enlisting in the valley (which was now no longer
threatened by the enemy), Jackson moved all his troops southeast, and on the 25th arrived at
Ashland, 17 miles from Richmond. This withdrawal from the valley was so skillfully managed that
his absence from the scene of his late triumphs was unsuspected at Washington. On the contrary,
something like a panic prevailed there, and the Government was afraid to permit McDowell to
unite his forces with McClellan's lest it should uncover and expose the capital to Jackson's
supposed movement on it.
Jackson's military operations were always unexpected and mysterious. In my personal intercourse
with him in the early part of the war, before he had become famous, he often said there were two
things never to be lost sight of by a military commander: "Always mystify, mislead, and surprise
the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long
as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes
panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight
against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part,
and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a
small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it
His celerity of movement was a simple matter. He never broke down his men by
too-long-continued marching. He rested the whole column very often, but only for a few minutes
at a time. I remember that he liked to see the men lie down flat on the ground to rest, and would
say, "A man rests all over when he lies down."
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