Stonewall Jackson And The American Civil War
G. F. R. Henderson

Part 1 out of 19

Produced by Derek Thompson and Sue Asscher















Before the great Republic of the West had completed a century of
independent national existence, its political fabric was subjected to
the strain of a terrible internecine war. That the true cause of
conflict was the antagonism between the spirit of Federalism and the
theory of "States' Rights" is very clearly explained in the following
pages, and the author exactly expresses the feeling with which most
Englishmen regard the question of Secession, when he implies that had
he been a New Englander he would have fought to the death to preserve
the Union, while had he been born in Virginia he would have done as
much in defence of a right the South believed inalienable. The war
thus brought about dragged on its weary length from the spring of
1861 to the same season of 1865. During its progress reputations were
made that will live for ever in American history, and many remarkable
men came to the front. Among these not the least prominent was
"Stonewall Jackson," who to the renown of a great soldier and
unselfish patriot added the brighter fame of a Christian hero; and to
those who would know what manner of man this Stonewall Jackson was,
and why he was so universally revered, so beloved, so trusted by his
men, I can cordially recommend Colonel Henderson's delightful
volumes. From their perusal I have derived real pleasure and sound
instruction. They have taught me much; they have made me think still
more; and I hope they may do the same for many others in the British
Army. They are worth the closest study, for few military writers have
possessed Colonel Henderson's grasp of tactical and strategical
principles, or his knowledge of the methods which have controlled
their application by the most famous soldiers, from Hannibal to Von
Moltke. Gifted with a rare power of describing not only great
military events but the localities where they occurred, he places
clearly before his readers, in logical sequence, the circumstances
which brought them about. He has accomplished, too, the difficult
task of combining with a brilliant and critical history of a great
war the life-story of a great commander, of a most singular and
remarkable man. The figure, the character, the idiosyncrasies of the
famous Virginian, as well as the lofty motives which influenced him
throughout, are most sympathetically portrayed.

There have been few more fitted by natural instincts, by education,
by study, and by self-discipline to become leaders of men than
Stonewall Jackson. From the day he joined that admirable school at
West Point he may be said to have trained himself mentally, morally,
and physically, for the position to which he aspired, and which it
would seem he always believed he would reach. Shy as a lad, reserved
as a man, speaking little but thinking much, he led his own life,
devouring the experiences of great men, as recorded in military
history, in order that when his time came he should be capable of
handling his troops as they did. A man of very simple tastes and
habits, but of strong religious principles, drawn directly from the
Bible; a child in purity; a child in faith; the Almighty always in
his thoughts, his stay in trouble, his guide in every difficulty,
Jackson's individuality was more striking and more complete than that
of all others who played leading parts in the great tragedy of
Secession. The most reckless and irreligious of the Confederate
soldiers were silent in his presence, and stood awestruck and abashed
before this great God-fearing man; and even in the far-off Northern
States the hatred of the formidable "rebel" was tempered by an
irrepressible admiration of his piety, his sincerity, and his
resolution. The passions then naturally excited have now calmed down,
and are remembered no more by a reunited and chivalrous nation. With
that innate love of virtue and real worth which has always
distinguished the American people, there has long been growing up,
even among those who were the fiercest foes of the South, a feeling
of love and reverence for the memory of this great and true-hearted
man of war, who fell in what he firmly believed to be a sacred cause.
The fame of Stonewall Jackson is no longer the exclusive property of
Virginia and the South; it has become the birthright of every man
privileged to call himself an American.

Colonel Henderson has made a special study of the Secession War, and
it would be difficult, in my opinion, to find a man better qualified
in every respect for the task he has undertaken. I may express the
hope that he will soon give us the history of the war from the death
of Stonewall Jackson to the fall of Richmond. Extending as it did
over a period of four years, and marked by achievements which are a
lasting honour to the Anglo-Saxon name, the struggle of the South for
independence is from every point of view one of the most important
events in the second half of the century, and it should not be left
half told. Until the battle where Stonewall Jackson fell, the tide of
success was flowing, and had borne the flag of the new Confederacy
within sight of the gates of Washington. Colonel Henderson deals only
with what I think may be called the period of Southern victories, for
the tide began to ebb when Jackson fell; and those who read his
volumes will, I am convinced, look forward eagerly to his story of
the years which followed, when Grant, with the skill of a practised
strategist, threw a net round the Confederate capital, drawing it
gradually together until he imprisoned its starving garrison, and
compelled Lee, the ablest commander of his day, to surrender at

But the application of strategical and tactical principles, and the
example of noble lives, are not the only or even the most valuable
lessons of great wars. There are lessons which concern nations rather
than individuals; and there are two to be learnt from the Secession
War which are of peculiar value to both England and the United
States, whose armies are comparatively small and raised by voluntary
enlistment. The first is the necessity of maintaining at all times
(for it is impossible to predict what tomorrow may have in store for
us) a well-organised standing army in the highest state of
efficiency, and composed of thoroughly-trained and full-grown men.
This army to be large enough for our military requirements, and
adapted to the character, the habits, and the traditions of the
people. It is not necessary that the whole force should be actually
serving during peace: one half of it, provided it is periodically
drilled and exercised, can be formed into a Reserve; the essential
thing is that it should be as perfect a weapon as can be forged.

The second lesson is that to hand over to civilians the
administration and organisation of the army, whether in peace or in
war, or to allow them to interfere in the selection of officers for
command or promotion, is most injurious to efficiency; while, during
war, to allow them, no matter how high their political capacity, to
dictate to commanders in the field any line of conduct, after the
army has once received its commission, is simply to ensure disaster.

The first of these lessons is brought home to us by the opening
events of this unreasonably protracted war. As I have elsewhere said,
most military students will admit that had the United States been
able, early in 1861, to put into the field, in addition to their
volunteers, one Army Corps of regular troops, the war would have
ended in a few months. An enormous expenditure of life and money, as
well as a serious dislocation and loss of trade, would have been thus
avoided. Never have the evil consequences which follow upon the
absence of an adequate and well-organised army been more forcibly

But, alas! when this lesson is preached in a country governed
alternately by rival political parties, and when there is no
immediate prospect of national danger, it falls on deaf ears. The
demands made by the soldiers to put the army on a thoroughly
efficient footing are persistently ignored, for the necessary means
are almost invariably required for some other object, more popular at
the moment and in a parliamentary--or party--sense more useful. The
most scathing comment on such a system of administration is furnished
in the story told by Colonel Henderson. The fearful trials to which
the United States were subjected expose the folly and self-deception
of which even well-meaning party leaders are too often capable.
Ministers bluster about fighting and yet refuse to spend enough money
on the army to make it fit for use; and on both sides of the Atlantic
the lessons taught by the Peninsula, the Crimea, and the Secession
War are but seldom remembered.

The pleasing notion that, whenever war comes, money can obtain for
the nation all that it requires is still, it would seem, an article
of at least lip-faith with the politicians of the English-speaking
race throughout the world. Gold will certainly buy a nation powder,
pills, and provisions; but no amount of wealth, even when supported
by a patriotic willingness to enlist, can buy discipline, training,
and skilful leading. Without these there can be no such thing as an
efficient army, and success in the field against serious opposition
is merely the idle dream of those who know not war.

If any nation could improvise an army at short notice it would be the
United States, for its men, all round, are more hardy, more
self-reliant, and quicker to learn than those of older communities.
But, notwithstanding this advantage, both in 1861 and 1898 the United
States failed to create the thoroughly efficient armies so suddenly
required, and in both instances the unnecessary sufferings of the
private soldier were the price paid for the weakness and folly of the
politicians. In 1861 the Governors of the several Northern States
were ordered to call for volunteers to enlist for ninety days, the
men electing their own officers. It was generally believed throughout
the North that all Southern resistance would collapse before the
great armies that would thus be raised. But the troops sent out to
crush the rebellion, when they first came under fire, were soldiers
only in outward garb, and at Bull Run, face to face with shot and
shell, they soon lapsed into the condition of a terrified rabble, and
ran away from another rabble almost equally demoralised; and this,
not because they were cowards, for they were of the same breed as the
young regular soldiers who retreated from the same field in such
excellent order, but because they neither understood what discipline
was nor the necessity for it, and because the staff and regimental
officers, with few exceptions, were untrained and inexperienced.

Mr. Davis, having prevented the Southern army from following up the
victory at Bull Run, gave the Northern States some breathing time.
Mr. Lincoln was thus able to raise a new army of over 200,000 men for
the projected advance on Richmond.

The new army was liberally supplied with guns, pontoons, balloons,
hospitals, and waggons; but, with the exception of a few officers
spared from the regular army, it was without trained soldiers to lead
it, or staff officers to move and to administer its Divisions. It
must be admitted, I think, that General McClellan did all that a man
could do in the way of training this huge mass. But when the day came
for it to move forward, it was still unfit for an offensive campaign
against a regular army. To the practised eye of an able and
experienced soldier who accompanied McClellan, the Federal host was
an army only in name. He likened it to a giant lying prone upon the
earth, in appearance a Hercules, but wanting the bone, the muscle,
and the nervous organisation necessary to set the great frame in
motion. Even when the army was landed in the Peninsula, although the
process of training and organisation had been going on for over six
months, it was still a most unwieldy force. Fortunately for the
Union, the Confederate army, except as regards the superior leaders
and the cavalry, was hardly more efficient.

The United States, fully realising their need of a larger regular
army, are now on the point of increasing their existing force to
treble its present strength. Their troops, like our own, are raised
by voluntary enlistment for a short period of service with the
colours. England has always very great difficulty in filling the
ranks even with undeveloped youths. The United States obtain as many
full-grown men as they require, because they have the wisdom to pay
their men well, on a scale corresponding to the market rate of wages.
Here they are fortunate; but men are not everything, and I will still
draw the moral that a nation is more than blind when it deliberately
elects to entrust its defence to an army that is not as perfect as
training and discipline can make it, that is not led by practised
officers, staff and regimental, and that is not provided with a
powerful and efficient artillery. Overwhelming disaster is in store
for such nation if it be attacked by a large regular army; and when
it falls there will be none to pity. To hang the ministers who led
them astray, and who believed they knew better than any soldier how
the army should be administered, will be but poor consolation to an
angry and deluded people.

Let me now dwell briefly upon the second of the two great national
lessons taught by the Secession War. I shall say nothing here upon
civilian meddling with army organisation and with the selection of
officers for command, but I wish particularly to point out the result
of interference on the part of a legislative assembly or minister
with the plans and dispositions of the generals commanding in the
field. Take first the notorious instance of Mr. Lincoln's
interference with McClellan in the spring of 1862. McClellan, who was
selected to command the army which was to capture Richmond and end
the war, was a soldier of known ability, and, in my opinion, if he
had not been interfered with by the Cabinet in Washington, he would
probably have succeeded. It is true, as Colonel Henderson has said,
that he made a mistake in not playing up to Lincoln's
susceptibilities with regard to the safety of the Federal capital.
But Lincoln made a far greater mistake in suddenly reducing
McClellan's army by 40,000 men, and by removing Banks from his
jurisdiction, when the plan of campaign had been approved by the
Cabinet, and it was already too late to change it. It is possible,
considering the political situation, that the garrison of Washington
was too small, and it was certainly inefficient; but the best way of
protecting Washington was to give McClellan the means of advancing
rapidly upon Richmond. Such an advance would have made a Confederate
counterstroke against the Northern capital, or even a demonstration,
impossible. But to take away from McClellan 40,000 men, the very
force with which he intended to turn the Yorktown lines and drive the
enemy back on Richmond, and at the same time to isolate Banks in the
Shenandoah Valley, was simply playing into the enemy's hands. What
Lincoln did not see was that to divide the Federal army into three
portions, working on three separate lines, was to run a far greater
risk than would be incurred by leaving Washington weakly garrisoned.
I cannot bring myself to believe that he in the least realised all
that was involved in changing a plan of operations so vast as

Again, look at the folly of which Mr. Benjamin, the Confederate
Secretary of War, was guilty at the same period. The reader should
carefully study the chapter in which Colonel Henderson describes
Stonewall Jackson's resignation of his command when his arrangements
in the field were altered, without his cognizance, by the Secretary
of War.

I should like to emphasise his words: "That the soldier," he says,
"is but the servant of the statesman, as war is but an instrument of
diplomacy, no educated soldier will deny. Politics must always
exercise a supreme influence on strategy; yet it cannot be gainsaid
that interference with the commander in the field is fraught with the
gravest danger."* (* Volume 1 chapter 7.)

The absolute truth of this remark is proved, not only by many
instances in his own volumes, but by the history of war in all ages,
and the principle for which Jackson contended when he sent in his
resignation would seem too well founded to be open to the slightest
question. Yet there are those who, oblivious of the fact that neglect
of this principle has been always responsible for protracted wars,
for useless slaughter, and costly failures, still insist on the
omniscience of statesmen; who regard the protest of the soldier as
the mere outcome of injured vanity, and believe that politics must
suffer unless the politician controls strategy as well as the
finances. Colonel Henderson's pages supply an instructive commentary
on these ideas. In the first three years of the Secession War, when
Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton practically controlled the movements of
the Federal forces, the Confederates were generally successful.
Further, the most glorious epoch of the Confederacy was the critical
period of 1862, when Lee was allowed to exercise the full authority
of Commander-in-Chief; and lastly, the Northern prospects did not
begin to brighten until Mr. Lincoln, in March 1864, with that
unselfish intelligence which distinguished him, abdicated his
military functions in favour of General Grant. And yet while Lee and
Grant had a free hand over the military resources of their respective
nations the political situation suffered no harm whatever, no
extravagant demands were made upon the exchequer, and the Government
derived fresh strength from the successes of the armies.

The truth is that a certain class of civilians cannot rid themselves
of the suspicion that soldiers are consumed by an inordinate and
bloodthirsty ambition. They cannot understand that a man brought up
from his youth to render loyal obedience is less likely than most
others to run counter to constituted authority. They will not see
that a soldier's pride in his own army and in the manhood of his own
race tends to make him a devoted patriot. They do not realise that a
commander's familiarity with war, whether gained by study or
experience, must, unless his ability be limited, enable him to
accommodate his strategy to political exigencies. Nor will they admit
that he can possess a due sense of economy, although none knows
better than an educated soldier the part played in war by a sound and
thrifty administration of the national resources.

The soldier, on the other hand, knows that his art is most difficult,
that to apply strategical principles correctly experience, study,
knowledge of men, and an intimate acquaintance with questions of
supply, transport, and the movement of masses, are absolutely
necessary. He is aware that what may seem matters of small moment to
the civilian--such as the position of a brigade, the strength of a
garrison, the command of a detachment--may affect the whole course of
a campaign; and consequently, even if he had not the historical
examples of Aulic Councils and other such assemblies to warn him, he
would rebel against the meddling of amateurs. Let it not be forgotten
that an enormous responsibility rests on the shoulders of a commander
in the field: the honour of army committed to his charge, the lives
of the brave men under him, perhaps the existence of his country; and
that failure, even if he can plead that he only obeyed the orders of
his Government, or that he was supplied with inadequate means, will
be laid at his door. McDowell received no mercy after Bull Run,
although he had protested against attacking the Confederates; and it
was long before the reputation of Sir John Moore was cleared in the
eyes of the English people.

Such, to my mind, are the most important lessons to be drawn from
this history of the first period of the Secession War. But it is not
alone to draw attention to the teaching on these points that I have
acceded, as an old friend, to Colonel Henderson's request that I
should write an Introduction to his second edition. In these days of
sensational literature and superficial study there is a prejudice
against the story that fills more than one volume. But the reader who
opens these pages is so carried away by the intense interest of the
subject, clothed as it is in forcible and yet graceful language, that
he closes them with regret; and I am only too glad to ask others to
share the very great pleasure I have myself enjoyed in reading them.
I know of no book which will add more largely to the soldier's
knowledge of strategy and the art of war; and the ordinary reader
will find in this Life of Stonewall Jackson, true and accurate as it
is, all the charm and fascination of a great historical romance.


To write the life of a great general, to analyse his methods of war
and discipline, to appraise the weight of his responsibilities, and
to measure the extent of his capacity, it would seem essential that
the experience of the writer should have run on parallel lines. An
ordinary soldier, therefore, who notwithstanding his lack of such
experience attempts the task, may be justly accused of something
worse than presumption. But if we were to wait for those who are
really qualified to deal with the achievements of famous captains, we
should, as a rule, remain in ignorance of the lessons of their lives,
for men of the requisite capacity are few in a generation. So the
task, if it is to be done at all, must perforce be left to those who
have less knowledge but more leisure.

In the present case, however, the mass of contemporary testimony is
so large that any initial disadvantages, I venture to think, will be
less conspicuous than they might otherwise have been. The Official
Records of the War of the Rebellion contain every dispatch, letter,
and message, public or confidential, which has been preserved; and in
the daily correspondence of the generals on both sides, together with
the voluminous reports of officers of all grades, the tale of the
campaigns is written so plain that none can fail to read. Again,
Stonewall Jackson's military career, either in full or in part, has
been narrated by more than one of his staff officers, whose
intercourse with him was necessarily close and constant; and, in
addition, the literature of the war abounds with articles and
sketches contributed by soldiers of all ranks who, at one time or
another, served under his command. It has been my privilege,
moreover, to visit the battle-fields of Virginia with men who rode by
his side when he won his victories, to hear on the spot the
description of his manoeuvres, of his bearing under fire, and of his
influence over his troops. I can thus make fairly certain that my
facts are accurate. But in endeavouring to ascertain the strength of
the armies at different periods I have been less fortunate. For the
most part I have rested on the Official Records* (* Referred to in
the text as O.R.); it is to be regretted, however, that, so far as
the Confederates are concerned, there are several gaps in the series
of returns, and I have found it extremely difficult to arrive at a
fair estimate of the approximate strength at any period within these
intervals. For instance, the numbers at Lee's disposal at the end of
August 1862 rest on the basis of a return dated July 20, and in the
meantime several regiments and batteries had been transferred
elsewhere, while others had been added. I have done my best, however,
to trace all such changes; and where officers and employed men are
not included in the returns, I have been careful to add a normal
percentage to the official totals.

As regards Jackson's place in history, my labours have been greatly
facilitated by the published opinions of many distinguished
soldiers--American, English, French, and German; and I have
endeavoured, at every step, as the surest means of arriving at a just
conclusion, to compare his conduct of military affairs with that of
the acknowledged masters of war. His private life, from his boyhood
onwards, has been so admirably depicted by his widow* (* Memoirs of
Stonewall Jackson. The Prentice Press, Louisville, Kentucky.), that I
have had nothing more to do than to select from her pages such
incidents and letters as appear best suited to illustrate his
character, and to add a few traits and anecdotes communicated by his
personal friends.

Several biographies have already been published, and that written by
the late Reverend R.L. Dabney, D.D., sometime Major in the
Confederate army, and Jackson's Chief of the Staff for several
months, is so complete and powerful that the need of a successor is
not at once apparent. This work, however, was brought out before the
war had ceased, and notwithstanding his intimate relations with his
hero, it was impossible for the author to attain that fulness and
precision of statement which the study of the Official Records can
alone ensure. Nor was Dr. Dabney a witness of all the events he so
vigorously described. It is only fitting, however, that I should
acknowledge the debt I owe to a soldier and writer of such
conspicuous ability. Not only have I quoted freely from his pages,
but he was good enough, at my request, to write exhaustive memoranda
on many episodes of Jackson's career.

Cooke's Life of Jackson is still popular, and deservedly so; but
Cooke, like Dr. Dabney, had no access to the Official Records, and
his narrative of the battles, picturesque and lifelike as it is, can
hardly be accepted as sober history. On the other hand, the several
works of the late Colonel William Allan, C.S.A., in collaboration
with Major Hotchkiss, C.S.A., are as remarkable for their research
and accuracy as for their military acumen; while the volumes of the
Southern Historical Society, together with the remarkable series of
articles entitled "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," written by
the leading participants on either side, are a perfect mine of wealth
to the historical student. I need hardly add that the memoirs and
biographies of both the Federal and Confederate generals, of Lee,
Grant, Stuart, Sherman, Johnston, Longstreet, Beauregard, McClellan,
Hancock, Pendleton and others, are a necessary complement to the
Official Records.

Nevertheless, with all this mass of information at my command, had it
not been for the exceeding kindness of the friends and comrades of
Stonewall Jackson, I much doubt whether I should have been able to
complete my task. To the late Major Hotchkiss, his trusted staff
officer, whatever of value these volumes may contain is largely due.
Not only did he correct the topographical descriptions, but he
investigated most carefully many disputed points; and in procuring
the evidence of eye-witnesses, and thus enabling me to check and
amplify the statements of previous writers, he was indefatigable. Dr.
Hunter McGuire, Medical Director of Jackson's successive commands,
has given me much of his valuable time. The Reverend J.P. Smith,
D.D., Jackson's aide-de-camp, has rendered me great assistance; and
from many officers and men of the Stonewall Brigade, of Jackson's
Division, and of the Second Army Corps, I have received contributions
to this memorial of their famous chief. Generals Gustavus Smith,
Fitzhugh Lee, Stephen D. Lee, and N.G. Harris, Colonel Williams,
Colonel Poague, and R.E. Lee, Esquire, of Washington, D.C., all
formerly of the Confederate States Army, have supplied me with new
matter. Colonel Miller, U.S.A., most courteously responded to my
request for a copy of the services of his regiment, the First
Artillery, in the Mexican war. The late General John Gibbon, U.S.A.,
wrote for me his reminiscences of Jackson as a cadet at West Point,
and as a subaltern in Mexico; and many officers who fought for the
Union have given me information as to the tactics and discipline of
the Federal armies. The Reverend J. Graham, D.D., of Winchester,
Virginia; Dr. H.A. White, of Washington and Lee University,
Lexington, Virginia, author of an admirable life of General Lee; and
the Hon. Francis Lawley, once Special Correspondent of the Times in
the Confederate States, have been most kind in replying to my many
questions. To Major-General Hildyard, C.B., late Commandant of the
Staff College, I am indebted for much valuable criticism on the
campaigns of 1862; and my warmest thanks are here tendered to the
Commander-in-Chief, Field-Marshal Lord Wolseley, for much information
and more encouragement.

I cannot conceal from myself, however, that notwithstanding the
numerous authorities I have been enabled to consult, as well as the
intrinsic interest of my subject, many of the following chapters will
be found excessively dull by civilian readers. Stonewall Jackson's
military career was not all hard fighting; nor was it on the
battlefield alone that his supreme ability for war was made manifest.
His time and thoughts were more occupied by strategy, that is, by
combinations made out of the enemy's sight, than by tactics, that is,
by manoeuvres executed in the enemy's presence. But strategy,
unfortunately, is an unpopular science, even among soldiers,
requiring both in practice and in demonstration constant and careful
study of the map, the closest computation of time and space, a grasp
of many factors, and the strictest attention to the various steps in
the problems it presents. At the same time, it is a science which
repays the student, although he may have no direct concern with
military affairs; for not only will a comprehension of its immutable
principles add a new interest to the records of stirring times and
great achievements, but it will make him a more useful citizen.

In free countries like Great Britain, her colonies, and the United
States, the weight of intelligent opinion, in all matters of moment,
generally turns the scale; and if it were generally understood that,
in regular warfare, success depends on something more than rank and
experience, no Government would dare entrust the command of the army
to any other than the most competent soldier. The campaigns of the
Civil War show how much may be achieved, even with relatively feeble
means, by men who have both studied strategy and have the character
necessary for its successful practice; and they also show, not a whit
less forcibly, what awful sacrifices may be exacted from a nation
ignorant that such a science exists. And such ignorance is
widespread. How seldom do we hear a knowledge of strategy referred to
as an indispensable acquirement in those who aspire to high command?
How often is it repeated, although in so doing the speakers betray
their own shortcomings, that strategy is a mere matter of
common-sense? Yet the plain truth is that strategy is not only the
determining factor in civilised warfare, but that, in order to apply
its principles, the soundest common-sense must be most carefully
trained. Of all the sciences connected with war it is the most
difficult. If the names of the great captains, soldiers and sailors,
be recalled, it will be seen that it is to the breadth of their
strategical conceptions rather than to their tactical skill that they
owe their fame. An analysis of the great wars shows that their course
was generally marked by the same vicissitudes. First we have the
great strategist, a Hannibal, or a Napoleon, or a Lee, triumphing
with inferior numbers over adversaries who are tacticians and nothing
more. Then, suddenly, the tide of victory is checked, and brilliant
manoeuvres no longer avail. Fabius and Scipio, Wellington, Nelson,
and St. Vincent, Grant, Sherman, and Farragut, have replaced the mere
tacticians; and the superior resources, wielded with strategical
skill, exert their inevitable effect. Or it may be that fortune is
constant throughout to her first favourite; and that a Marlborough, a
Frederick, a Washington, a Moltke, opposed only by good fighting men,
never by an accomplished strategist, marches from victory to victory.
It is impossible, then, to estimate the ability of any general
without considering his strategy. Moreover, in this age of
inventions, of rapid movement, and of still more rapid communication,
the science is more complicated and even more important than
heretofore; and it is deserving, therefore, of far closer attention,
from both soldiers and civilians, than it has hitherto received. It
is for these reasons that I have described and discussed in such
minute detail the strategy of the campaigns with which Jackson had to

I have only to add that should anything in these pages wound the
susceptibilities of any one of those splendid soldiers and gallant
gentlemen who took part in the Civil War, whether he be Northerner or
Southerner, I here tender him my humblest apologies; assuring him, at
the same time, that while compiling these pages I have always borne
in mind the words of General Grant: "I would like to see truthful
history written. Such history will do full credit to the courage,
endurance, and ability of the American citizen, no matter what
section he hailed from, or in what ranks he fought." I am very
strongly of opinion that any fair-minded man may feel equal sympathy
with both Federal and Confederate. Both were so absolutely convinced
that their cause was just, that it is impossible to conceive either
Northerner or Southerner acting otherwise than he did. If Stonewall
Jackson had been a New Englander, educated in the belief that
secession was rebellion, he would assuredly have shed the last drop
of his blood in defence of the Union; if Ulysses Grant had been a
Virginian, imbibing the doctrine of States' rights with his mother's
milk, it is just as certain that he would have worn the Confederate
grey. It is with those Northerners who would have allowed the Union
to be broken, and with those Southerners who would have tamely
surrendered their hereditary rights, that no Englishman would be
willing to claim kinship.




1.2. MEXICO. 1846 TO 1847.

1.3. LEXINGTON. 1851 TO 1861.

1.4. SECESSION. 1860 TO 1861.



1.7. ROMNEY.


1.9. M'DOWELL.




















SITUATION, MAY 18, 1862.








In the first quarter of the century, on the hills which stand above
the Ohio River, but in different States of the Union, were born two
children, destined, to all appearance, to lives of narrow interests
and thankless toil. They were the sons of poor parents, without
influence or expectations; their native villages, deep in the
solitudes of the West, and remote from the promise and possibilities
of great cities, offered no road to fortune. In the days before the
railway, escape from the wilderness, except for those with long
purses, was very difficult; and for those who remained, if their
means were small, the farm and the store were the only occupations.
But a farmer without capital was little better than a hired hand;
trade was confined to the petty dealings of a country market; and
although thrift and energy, even under such depressing conditions,
might eventually win a competence, the most ardent ambition could
hardly hope for more. Never was an obscure existence more
irretrievably marked out than for these children of the Ohio; and
yet, before either had grown grey, the names of Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States, and of Stonewall Jackson,
Lieutenant-General in the Confederate Army, were household words in
both America and Europe. Descendants of the pioneers, those hardy
borderers, half soldiers and half farmers, who held and reclaimed,
through long years of Indian warfare, the valleys and prairies of the
West, they inherited the best attributes of a frank and valiant race.
Simple yet wise, strong yet gentle, they were gifted with all the
qualities which make leaders of men. Actuated by the highest
principles, they both ennobled the cause for which they fought; and
while the opposition of such kindred natures adds to the dramatic
interest of the Civil War, the career of the great soldier, although
a theme perhaps less generally attractive, may be followed as
profitably as that of the great statesmen. Providence dealt with them
very differently. The one was struck down by a mortal wound before
his task was well begun; his life, to all human seeming, was given in
vain, and his name will ever be associated with the mournful memories
of a lost cause and a vanished army. The other, ere he fell beneath
the assassin's stroke, had seen the abundant fruits of his mighty
labours; his sun set in a cloudless sky. And yet the resemblance
between them is very close. Both dared:

For that sweet mother-land which gave them birth
Nobly to do, nobly to die. Their names,
Graven on memorial columns, are a song
Heard in the future;...more than wall
And rampart, their examples reach a hand
Far thro' all years, and everywhere they meet
And kindle generous purpose, and the strength
To mould it into action pure as theirs.

Jackson, in one respect, was more fortunate than Lincoln. Although
born to poverty, he came of a Virginia family which was neither
unknown nor undistinguished, and as showing the influences which went
to form his character, its history and traditions may be briefly

It is an article of popular belief that the State of Virginia, the
Old Dominion of the British Crown, owes her fame to the blood of the
English Cavaliers. The idea, however, has small foundation in fact.
Not a few of her great names are derived from a less romantic source,
and the Confederate general, like many of his neighbours in the
western portion of the State, traced his origin to the Lowlands of
Scotland. An ingenious author of the last century, himself born on
Tweed-side, declares that those Scotch families whose patronymics end
in "son," although numerous and respectable, and descended, as the
distinctive syllable denotes, from the Vikings, have seldom been
pre-eminent either in peace or war. And certainly, as regards the
Jacksons of bygone centuries, the assertion seems justified. The name
is almost unknown to Border history. In neither lay nor legend has it
been preserved; and even in the "black lists" of the wardens, where
the more enterprising of the community were continually proclaimed as
thieves and malefactors, it is seldom honoured with notice. The
omission might be held as evidence that the family was of peculiar
honesty, but, in reality, it is only a proof that it was
insignificant. It is not improbable that the Jacksons were one of the
landless clans, whose only heritages were their rude "peel" towers,
and who, with no acknowledged chief of their own race, followed, as
much for protection as for plunder, the banner of some more powerful
house. In course of time, when the Marches grew peaceful and morals
improved, when cattle-lifting, no longer profitable, ceased to be an
honourable occupation, such humbler marauders drifted away into the
wide world, leaving no trace behind, save the grey ruins of their
grim fortalices, and the incidental mention of some probably
disreputable scion in a chapman's ballad. Neither mark nor memory of
the Jacksons remains in Scotland. We only know that some members of
the clan, impelled probably by religious persecution, made their way
to Ulster, where a strong colony of Lowlanders had already been

Under a milder sky and a less drastic government the expatriated
Scots lost nothing of their individuality. Masterful and independent
from the beginning, masterful and independent they remained,
inflexible of purpose, impatient of justice, and staunch to their
ideals. Something, perhaps, they owed to contact with the Celt.
Wherever the Ulster folk have made their home, the breath of the
wholesome North has followed them, preserving untainted their
hereditary virtues. Shrewd, practical, and thrifty, prosperity has
consistently rewarded them; and yet, in common with the Irishmen of
English stock, they have found in the trade of arms the most
congenial outlet for their energies. An abiding love of peace can
hardly be enumerated amongst their more prominent characteristics;
and it is a remarkable fact, which, unless there is some mysterious
property in the air, can only be explained by the intermixture of
races, that Ireland "within the Pale" has been peculiarly prolific of
military genius. As England has bred admirals, so the sister isle has
bred soldiers. The tenacious courage of the Anglo-Saxon, blended with
the spirit of that people which above all others delights in war, has
proved on both sides of the Atlantic a most powerful combination of
martial qualities. The same mixed strain which gave England Wolfe and
Wellington, the Napiers and the Lawrences, has given America some of
her greatest captains; and not the least famous of her Presidents is
that General Jackson who won the battle of New Orleans in 1814. So,
early in the century the name became known beyond the seas; but
whether the same blood ran in the veins of the Confederate general
and of the soldier President is a matter of some doubt. The former,
in almost every single respect, save his warm heart, was the exact
converse of the typical Irishman, the latter had a hot temper and a
ready wit. Both, however, were undeniably fond of fighting, and a
letter still preserved attests that their ancestors had lived in the
same parish of Londonderry.* (* This letter is in the possession of
Thomas Jackson Arnold, Esquire, of Beverly, West Virginia, nephew of
General "Stonewall" Jackson.)


John Jackson, the great-grandfather of our hero, landed in America in
1748, and it was not long before he set his face towards the
wilderness. The emigrants from Ulster appear as a rule to have moved
westward. The States along the coast were already colonised, and,
despite its fertility, the country was little to their taste. But
beyond the border, in the broad Appalachian valley which runs from
the St. Lawrence to Alabama, on the banks of the great rivers, the
Susquehanna, the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee, they found
a land after their own heart, a soil with whose properties they were
familiar, the sweet grasses and soft contours of their native hills.
Here, too, there was ample room for their communities, for the West
was as yet but sparsely tenanted. No inconsiderable number,
penetrating far into the interior, settled eventually about the
headwaters of the Potomac and the James. This highland region was the
debatable ground of the United States. So late as 1756 the State of
Virginia extended no further than the crests of the Blue Ridge. Two
hundred miles westward forts flying French colours dominated the
valley of the Ohio, and the wild and inhospitable tract, a very
labyrinth of mountains, which lay between, was held by the fierce
tribes of the "Six Nations" and the Leni-Lenape. Two years later the
French had been driven back to Canada; but it was not till near the
close of the century that the savage was finally dispossessed of his
spacious hunting grounds.

It was on these green uplands, where fight and foray were as frequent
as once on the Scottish border, that John Jackson and his wife, a
fellow passenger to America, by name Elizabeth Cummins, first pitched
their camp, and here is still the home of their descendants.

January 21, 1824.

In the little town of Clarksburg, now the county-seat of Harrison,
but then no more than a village in the Virginia backwoods, Thomas
Jonathan Jackson was born on January 21, 1824. His father was a
lawyer, clever and popular, who had inherited a comfortable
patrimony. The New World had been generous to the Jacksons. The
emigrant of 1748 left a valuable estate, and his many sons were
uniformly prosperous. Nor was their affluence the reward of energy
and thrift alone, for the lands reclaimed by axe and plough were held
by a charter of sword and musket. The redskin fought hard for his
ancestral domains. The stockaded forts, which stood as a citadel of
refuge in every settlement, were often the scene of fierce attack and
weary leaguer, and the nursing mothers of the frontier families were
no strangers to war and bloodshed. The last great battle with the
Indians east of the Ohio was fought in 1774, but the military
experience of the pioneers was not confined to the warfare of the
border. John Jackson and his sons bore arms in the War of
Independence, and the trained riflemen of West Virginia were welcome
recruits in the colonial ranks. With the exception of the Highlanders
of the '45, who had been deported in droves to the plantations, no
race had less cause to remain loyal to the Crown than the men of
Ulster blood. Even after the siege of Londonderry they had been
proscribed and persecuted; and in the War of Independence the
fiercest enemies of King George were the descendants of the same
Scotch-Irish who had held the north of Ireland for King William.

In Washington's campaigns more than one of the Jacksons won rank and
reputation; and when peace was established they married into
influential families. Nor was the next generation less successful.
Judges, senators, and soldiers upheld the honour of the name, and
proved the worth of the ancestral stock. They were marked, it is
said, by strong and characteristic features, by a warm feeling of
clanship, a capacity for hard work, and a decided love of roving.
Some became hunters, others explorers, and the race is now scattered
from Virginia to Oregon. A passion for litigation was a general
failing, and none of them could resist the fascination of machinery.
Every Jackson owned a mill or factory of some sort--many of them more
than one--and their ventures were not always profitable. Jackson's
father, among others, found it easier to make money than to keep it.
Generous and incautious, he became deeply involved by becoming
security for others; high play increased his embarrassments; and when
he died in 1827 every vestige of his property was swept away. His
young widow, left with three small children, two sons and a daughter,
became dependent on the assistance of her kinsfolk for a livelihood,
and on the charity of the Freemasons for a roof. When Thomas, her
second son, was six years old, she married a Captain Woodson; but her
second matrimonial venture was not more fortunate than her first. Her
husband's means were small, and necessity soon compelled her to
commit her two boys to the care of their father's relatives.


Within a year the children stood round her dying bed, and at a very
early age our little Virginian found himself a penniless orphan. But,
as he never regretted his poverty, so he never forgot his mother. To
the latest hour of his life he loved to recall her memory, and years
after she had passed away her influence still remained. Her beauty,
her counsels, their last parting, and her happy death, for she was a
woman of deep religious feeling, made a profound impression on him.
To his childhood's fancy she was the embodiment of every grace; and
so strong had been the sympathy between them, that even in the midst
of his campaigns she was seldom absent from his thoughts. After her
death the children found a home with their father's half-brother, who
had inherited the family estates, and was one of the largest
slave-owners in the district. Their surroundings, however, could
hardly be called luxurious. Life on the Ohio was very different from
life on the coast. The western counties of Virginia were still
practically on the frontier of the United States. The axe had thinned
the interminable woods; mills were busy on each mountain stream, and
the sunny valleys were rich in fruit and corn. But as yet there was
little traffic. Steam had not yet come to open up the wilderness. The
population was small and widely scattered; and the country was cut
off as much by nature as by distance from the older civilisation of
the East. The parallel ranges of the Alleghanies, with their pathless
forests and great canyons, were a formidable barrier to all
intercourse. The West was a world in itself. The only outlets
eastward were the valleys of the Potomac and the James, the one
leading to Washington, the other to Richmond; and so seldom were they
used that the yeomen of the Ohio uplands were almost as much opposed,
both in character and in mode of life, to the planters beyond the
Blue Ridge, as the Covenanters of Bothwell Brig to the gentlemen of
Dundee's Life Guards.

Although the sturdy independence and simple habits of the borderers
were not affected by contact with wealthier communities, isolation
was not in every way a blessing. Served by throngs of slaves, the
great landowners of East Virginia found leisure to cultivate the arts
which make life more pleasant. The rambling houses on the banks of
the James, the Rappahannock, and the Potomac, built on the model of
English manors, had their libraries and picture-galleries. A
classical academy was the boast of every town, and a university
training was considered as essential to the son of a planter as to
the heir of an English squire. A true aristocracy, in habit and in
lineage, the gentlemen of Virginia long swayed the councils of the
nation, and among them were many who were intimate with the best
representatives of European culture. Beyond the Alleghanies there
were no facilities for education; and even had opportunities offered
few would have had the leisure to enjoy them. Labour was scarce,
either slave or hired. The owners of farms were their own managers
and overseers, and young men had to serve a practical apprenticeship
to lumbering and agriculture. To this rule, despite his uncle's
wealth, Jackson was no exception. He had to fight his own battle, to
rub shoulders with all sorts and conditions of men, and to hold his
own as best he could.

It was a hard school, then, in which he grew to manhood. But for that
very reason it was a good school for the future soldier. For a man
who has to push his own way in the world, more especially if he has
to carve it with his sword, a boyhood passed amidst surroundings
which boast of no luxury and demand much endurance, is the best
probation. Von Moltke has recorded that the comfortless routine of
the Military Academy at Copenhagen inured him to privation, and
Jackson learned the great lesson of self-reliance in the rough life
of his uncle's homestead.

The story of his early years is soon told. As a blue-eyed child, with
long fair hair, he was curiously thoughtful and exceedingly
affectionate. His temper was generous and cheerful. His truthfulness
was proverbial, and his little sister found in him the kindest of
playmates and the sturdiest of protectors. He was distinguished, too,
for his politeness, although good manners were by no means rare in
the rustic West. The manly courtesy of the true American is no exotic
product; nor is the universal deference to woman peculiar to any
single class. The farmer of the backwoods might be ignorant of the
conventionalities, but the simplicity and unselfishness which are the
root of all good breeding could be learned in West Virginia as
readily as in Richmond.

Once, tempted by his brother, the boy left his adopted home, and the
two children, for the elder was no more than twelve, wandered down
the Ohio to the Mississippi, and spent the summer on a lonely and
malarious island, cutting wood for passing steamers. No one opposed
their going, and it seems to have been considered quite natural in
that independent community that the veriest urchins should be allowed
to seek their fortunes for themselves. Returning, ragged and
fever-stricken, the little adventurers submitted once more to the
routine of the farm and to the intermittent studies of a country
school. After his failure as a man of business, our small hero showed
no further inclination to seek his fortunes far afield. He was fond
of his home. His uncle, attracted by his steadiness and good sense,
treated him more as a companion than a child; and in everything
connected with the farm, as well as in the sports of the country
side, the boy took the keenest interest. Delicate by nature, with a
tendency to consumption inherited from his mother, his physique and
constitution benefited by a life of constant exercise and wholesome
toil. At school he was a leader in every game, and his proficiency in
the saddle proved him a true Virginian. Fox-hunting and horse-racing
were popular amusements, and his uncle not only kept a stable of
well-bred horses, but had a four-mile race-course on his own grounds.
As a light-weight jockey the future general was a useful member of
the household, and it was the opinion of the neighbourhood that "if a
horse had any winning qualities whatever in him, young Jackson never
failed to bring them out."

In the management of the estate he learned early to put his shoulder
to the wheel. Transporting timber from the forest to the saw-mill was
one of his most frequent tasks, and tradition records that if a tree
were to be moved from ground of unusual difficulty, or if there were
one more gigantic than the rest, the party of labourers was put under
his control, and the work was sure to be effected.

One who knew him well has described his character. "He was a youth of
exemplary habits, of indomitable will and undoubted courage. He was
not what is nowadays termed brilliant, but he was one of those
untiring, matter-of-fact persons who would never give up an
undertaking until he accomplished his object. He learned slowly, but
what he got into his head he never forgot. He was not quick to
decide, except when excited, and then, when he made up his mind to do
a thing, he did it on short notice and in quick time. Once, while on
his way to school, an overgrown rustic behaved rudely to one of the
school-girls. Jackson fired up, and told him he must apologise at
once or he would thrash him. The big fellow, supposing that he was
more than a match for him, refused, whereupon Jackson pitched into
him, and gave him a severe pounding."

His surroundings, then, although neither refined nor elevating, were
not unwholesome; but of the moral influences to which he was
subjected, so much cannot be said, while the stock of piety that the
original settlers brought with them had not entirely vanished. There
was much irregularity of life; few men gave any thought to religion,
and young Jackson drifted with the tide. Yet there was something that
preserved him from contamination. His uncle, kindest of guardians,
though irreligious and a sportsman, was scrupulously exacting in
matters of integrity and veracity. His associates included the most
respectable, yet the morals of the sporting fraternity of a frontier
settlement are not likely to have been edifying. That his nephew, as
he himself declares, was an ardent frequenter of races,
"house-raisings,"* (* Anglice, house-warmings.) and country dances is
hardly surprising, and it is assuredly no ground whatever for
reproach. Nor is it strange that, amid much laxity, he should have
retained his integrity, that his regard for truth should have
remained untarnished, and that he should have consistently held aloof
from all that was mean and vile. His mother was no mere memory to
that affectionate nature.

His good qualities, however, would scarcely of themselves have done
more than raise him to a respectable rank amongst the farmers of West
Virginia. A spur was wanting to urge him beyond the limits of so
contracted an existence, and that spur was supplied by an honourable
ambition. Penniless and dependent as he was, he still remembered that
his ancestors had been distinguished beyond the confines of their
native county, and this legitimate pride in his own people, a far-off
reflection, perhaps, of the traditional Scottish attitude towards
name and pedigree, exercised a marked influence on his whole career.
"To prove himself worthy of his forefathers was the purpose of his
early manhood. It gives us a key to many of the singularities of his
character; to his hunger for self-improvement; to his punctilious
observance, from a boy, of the essentials of gentlemanly bearing, and
to the uniform assertion of his self-respect."* (* Dabney volume 1
page 29.)


It was his openly expressed wish for larger advantages than those
offered by a country school that brought about his opportunity. In
1841, at the age of seventeen, he became a constable of the county. A
sort of minor sheriff, he had to execute the decrees of the justices,
to serve their warrants, to collect small debts, and to summon
witnesses. It was a curious office for a boy, but a year or two
before he had been seized with some obscure form of dyspepsia, and
the idea that a life on horseback, which his duties necessitated,
might restore his health, had induced his relatives to obtain the
post for him. Jackson himself seems to have been influenced by the
hope that his salary would help towards his education, and by the
wish to become independent of his uncle's bounty. His new duties were
uncongenial, but, despite his youth, he faced his responsibilities
with a determination which men of maturer years might well have
envied. In everything he was scrupulously exact. His accounts were
accurately kept; he was punctuality itself, and his patience was
inexhaustible. For two years he submitted cheerfully to the drudgery
of his position, re-establishing his health, but without advancing a
single step towards the goal of his ambition. But before he was
nineteen his hopes were unexpectedly realised.


The Military Academy at West Point not only provided, at the expense
of the nation, a sound and liberal education, but offered an opening
to an honourable career. Nominations to cadetships were made by the
Secretary of War, on the recommendation of members of Congress, and
in 1842 a vacancy occurred which was to be filled by a youth from the
Congressional District in which Clarksburg was included. Jackson,
informed of the chance by a friendly blacksmith, eagerly embraced it,
and left no stone unturned to attain his object. Every possible
influence that could be brought to bear on the member for the
district was immediately enlisted. To those who objected that his
education was too imperfect to enable him even to enter the Academy,
he replied that he had the necessary application, that he hoped he
had the capacity, and that he was at least determined to try. His
earnestness and courage won upon all. His application was strongly
backed by those who had learned to value his integrity and exactness,
and Mr. Hays, the member for the district, wrote that he would do all
in his power to secure the appointment. No sooner had the letter been
read than Jackson determined to go at once to Washington, in order
that he might be ready to proceed to West Point without a moment's
delay. Packing a few clothes into a pair of saddlebags, he mounted
his horse, and accompanied by a servant, who was to bring the animal
home, rode off to catch the coach at Clarksburg. It had already
passed, but galloping on, he overtook it at the next stage, and on
his arrival at Washington, Mr. Hays at once introduced him to the
Secretary of War. On presenting him, he explained the disadvantages
of his education, but begged indulgence for him on account of his
pluck and determination. The Secretary plied him with questions, but
Jackson was not to be diverted from his purpose; and so good was the
impression which he made that he then and there received his warrant,
accompanied by some excellent advice. "Sir," said the Secretary, "you
have a good name. Go to West Point, and the first man who insults
you, knock him down, and have it charged to my account!"

Mr. Hays proposed that the new-fledged cadet should stay with him for
a few days in order to see the sights of Washington. But as the
Academy was already in session, Jackson, with a strong appreciation
of the value of time, begged to decline. He was content to ascend to
the roof of the Capitol, then still building, and look once on the
magnificent panorama of which it is the centre.

At his feet lay the city, with its busy streets and imposing
edifices. To the south ran the Potomac, bearing on its ample tide the
snowy sails of many merchantmen, and spanned by a bridge more than a
mile in length. Over against the Capitol, looking down on that
wide-watered shore, stood the white porch of Arlington, once the
property of Washington, and now the home of a young officer of the
United States army, Robert Edward Lee. Beyond Arlington lay Virginia,
Jackson's native State, stretching back in leafy hills and verdant
pastures, and far and low upon the western horizon his own mountains
loomed faintly through the summer haze. It was a strange freak of
fortune that placed him at the very outset of his career within sight
of the theatre of his most famous victories. It was a still stranger
caprice that was to make the name of the simple country youth,
ill-educated and penniless, as terrible in Washington as the name of
the Black Douglas was once in Durham and Carlisle.


It was in July 1842 that one of America's greatest soldiers first
answered to his name on the parade-ground at West Point. Shy and
silent, clad in Virginia homespun, with the whole of his personal
effects carried in a pair of weather-stained saddle bags, the
impression that he made on his future comrades, as the Secretary of
War appears to have anticipated, was by no means favourable. The West
Point cadets were then, as now, remarkable for their upright
carriage, the neatness of their appointments, and their soldierly
bearing towards their officers and towards each other. The grey
coatee, decorated with bright buttons and broad gold lace, the shako
with tall plumes, the spotless white trousers, set off the trim young
figures to the best advantage; and the full-dress parade of the cadet
battalion, marked by discipline and precision in every movement, is
still one of the most attractive of military spectacles.

These natty young gentlemen were not slow to detect the superficial
deficiencies of the newcomer. A system of practical joking, carried
to extremes, had long been a feature of West Point life. Jackson,
with the rusticity of the backwoods apparent at every turn, promised
the highest sport. And here it may be written, once for all, that
however nearly in point of character the intended victim reached the
heroic standard, his outward graces were few. His features were well
cut, his forehead high, his mouth small and firm, and his complexion
fresh. Yet the ensemble was not striking, nor was it redeemed by
grave eyes and a heavy jaw, a strong but angular frame, a certain
awkwardness of movement, and large hands and feet. His would-be
tormentors, however, soon found they had mistaken their man. The
homespun jacket covered a natural shrewdness which had been sharpened
by responsibility. The readiness of resource which had characterised
the whilom constable was more than a match for their most ingenious
schemes; and baffled by a temper which they were powerless to
disturb, their attempts at persecution, apparently more productive of
amusement to their victim than to themselves, were soon abandoned.

Rough as was the life of the Virginia border, it had done something
to fit this unpromising recruit for the give and take of his new
existence. Culture might be lacking in the distant West, but the air
men breathed was at least the blessed breath of independence. Each
was what he made himself. A man's standing depended on his success in
life, and success was within the reach of all. There, like his
neighbours, Jackson had learned to take his own part; like them he
acknowledged no superiority save that of actual merit, and believing
that the richest prize might be won by energy and perseverance,
without diffidence or misgiving he faced his future. He knew nothing
of the life of the great nation of which he was so insignificant an
atom, of the duties of the army, of the manners of its officers. He
knew only that even as regards education he had an uphill task before
him. He was indeed on the threshold of a new world, with his own way
to make, and apparently no single advantage in his favour. But he
came of a fighting race; he had his own inflexible resolution to
support him, and his determination expressed itself in his very
bearing. Four cadets, three of whom were afterwards Confederate
generals,* (* A.P. Hill, G.E. Pickett, and D.H. Maury.) were standing
together when he first entered the gates of the Academy. "There was
about him," says one of them, "so sturdy an expression of purpose
that I remarked, "That fellow looks as if he had come to stay.""

Jackson's educational deficiencies were more difficult of conquest
than the goodwill of his comrades. His want of previous training
placed him at a great disadvantage. He commenced his career amongst
"the Immortals" (the last section of the class), and it was only by
the most strenuous efforts that he maintained his place. His
struggles at the blackboard were often painful to witness. In the
struggle to solve a problem he invariably covered both his face and
uniform with chalk, and he perspired so freely, even in the coldest
weather, that the cadets, with boyish exaggeration, declared that
whenever "the General," as he had at once been dubbed in honour of
his namesake, the victor of New Orleans, got a difficult proposition
he was certain to flood the classroom. It was all he could do to pass
his first examination.* (* Communicated by General John Gibbon,

"We were studying," writes a classmate, "algebra and analytical
geometry that winter, and Jackson was very low in his class. Just
before the signal lights out he would pile up his grate with
anthracite coal, and lying prone before it on the floor, would work
away at his lessons by the glare of the fire, which scorched his very
brain, till a late hour of the night. This evident determination to
succeed not only aided his own efforts directly, but impressed his
instructors in his favour. If he could not master the portion of the
text-book assigned for the day, he would not pass it over, but
continued to work at it till he understood it. Thus it often happened
that when he was called out to repeat his task, he had to reply that
he had not yet reached the lesson of the day, but was employed upon
the previous one. There was then no alternative but to mark him as
unprepared, a proceeding which did not in the least affect his

Despite all drawbacks, his four years at the Academy were years of
steady progress. "The Immortals" were soon left far behind. At the
end of the first twelve months he stood fifty-first in a class of
seventy-two, but when he entered the first class, and commenced the
study of logic, that bugbear to the majority, he shot from near the
foot of the class to the top. In the final examination he came out
seventeenth, notwithstanding that the less successful years were
taken into account, and it was a frequent remark amongst his brother
cadets that if the course had been a year longer he would have come
out first. His own satisfaction was complete. Not only was his
perseverance rewarded by a place sufficiently high to give him a
commission in the artillery, but his cravings for knowledge had been
fully gratified. West Point was much more than a military school. It
was a university, and a university under the very strictest
discipline, where the science of the soldier formed only a portion of
the course. Subjects which are now considered essential to a military
education were not taught at all. The art of war gave place to ethics
and engineering; and mathematics and chemistry were considered of far
more importance than topography and fortification. Yet with French,
history, and drawing, it will be admitted that the course was
sufficiently comprehensive. No cadet was permitted to graduate unless
he had reached a high standard of proficiency. Failures were
numerous. In the four years the classes grew gradually smaller, and
the survival of the fittest was a principle of administration which
was rigidly observed.

The fact, then, that a man had passed the final examination at West
Point was a sufficient certificate that he had received a thorough
education, that his mental faculties had been strengthened by four
years of hard work, and that he was well equipped to take his place
amongst his fellow men. And it was more than this. Four years of the
strictest discipline, for the cadets were allowed only one vacation
during their whole course, were sufficient to break in even the most
careless and the most slovenly to neatness, obedience, and
punctuality. Such habits are not easily unlearned, and the West Point
certificate was thus a guarantee of qualities that are everywhere
useful. It did not necessarily follow that because a cadet won a
commission he remained a soldier. Many went to civil life, and the
Academy was an excellent school for men who intended to find a career
as surveyors or engineers. The great railway system of the United
States was then in its infancy; its development offered endless
possibilities, and the work of extending civilisation in a vast and
rapidly improving country had perhaps more attraction for the
ambitious than the career of arms. The training and discipline of
West Point were not, then, concentrated in one profession, but were
disseminated throughout the States; and it was with this purpose that
the institution of the Academy had been approved by Congress.

In the wars with England the militia of the different States had
furnished the means both of resistance and aggression, but their
grave shortcomings, owing principally to the lack of competent
officers, had been painfully conspicuous. After 1814, the principle
that the militia was the first line of defence was still adhered to,
and the standing army was merely maintained as a school for generals
and a frontier guard. It was expected, however, that in case of war
the West Point graduates would supply the national forces with a
large number of officers who, despite their civil avocations, would
at least be familiar with drill and discipline. This fact is to be
borne in mind in view of the Civil War. The demands of the enormous
armies then put into the field were utterly unprecedented, and the
supply of West Pointers was altogether inadequate to meet them; but
the influence of the Military Academy was conspicuous throughout. Not
a few of the most able generals were little more than boys; and yet,
as a rule, they were far superior to those who came from the militia
or volunteers. Four years of strict routine, of constant drill, and
implicit subordination, at the most impressionable period of life,
proved a far better training for command than the desultory and
intermittent service of a citizen army.

During his stay at West Point Jackson's development was not all in
one direction. He gained in health and strength. When he joined he
had not yet attained his full height, which fell short of six feet by
two inches. The constant drilling developed his frame. He grew
rapidly, and soon acquired the erect bearing of the soldier; but
notwithstanding the incessant practice in riding, fencing and
marching, his anatomical peculiarities still asserted themselves. It
was with great difficulty that he mastered the elementary process of
keeping step, and despite his youthful proficiency as a jockey, the
regulation seat of the dragoon, to be acquired on the back of a rough
cavalry trooper, was an accomplishment which he never mastered. If it
be added that his shyness never thawed, that he was habitually
silent, it is hardly surprising to find that he had few intimates at
the Academy. Caring nothing for the opinion of others, and tolerant
of association rather than seeking it, his self-contained nature
asked neither sympathy nor affection. His studious habits never left
him. His only recreation was a rapid walk in the intervals of the
classes. His whole thoughts and his whole energy were centred on
doing his duty, and passing into the army with all the credit he
could possibly attain. Although he was thoroughly happy at West
Point, life to him, even at that early age, was a serious business,
and most seriously he set about it.

Still, unsociable and irresponsive as he was, there were those in
whose company he found pleasure, cadets who had studied subjects not
included in the West Point course, and from whom there was something
to be learned. It was an unwritten law of the Academy that those of
the senior year should not make companions of their juniors. But
Jackson paid no heed to the traditionary code of etiquette. His
acquaintances were chosen regardless of standing, as often from the
class below him as his own; and in yet another fashion his strength
of character was displayed. Towards those who were guilty of
dishonourable conduct he was merciless almost to vindictiveness. He
had his own code of right and wrong, and from one who infringed it he
would accept neither apology nor excuse. His musket, which was always
scrupulously clean, was one day replaced by another in most slovenly
order. He called the attention of his captain to his loss, and
described the private mark by which it was to be identified. That
evening, at the inspection of arms, it was found in the hands of
another cadet, who, when taxed with his offence, endeavoured to
shield himself by falsehood. Jackson's anger was unbounded, and for
the moment his habitual shyness completely disappeared. He declared
that such a creature should not continue a member of the Academy, and
demanded that he should be tried by court-martial and expelled. It
was only by means of the most persevering remonstrances on the part
of his comrades and his officers that he could be induced to waive
his right of pressing the charge. His regard for duty, too, was no
less marked than his respect for truth. During one half-year his
room-mate was orderly-sergeant of his company, and this good-natured
if perfunctory young gentleman often told Jackson that he need not
attend the reveille roll-call, at which every cadet was supposed to
answer to his name. Not once, however, did he avail himself of the
privilege.* (* Communicated by Colonel P.T. Turnley.)

At the same time he was not altogether so uncompromising as at first
sight he appeared. At West Point, as in after years, those who saw
him interested or excited noticed that his smile was singularly
sweet, and the cadets knew that it revealed a warm heart within.
Whenever, from sickness or misfortune, a comrade stood in need of
sympathy, Jackson was the first to offer it, and he would devote
himself to his help with a tenderness so womanly that it sometimes
excited ridicule. Sensitive he was not, for of vanity he had not the
slightest taint; but of tact and sensibility he possessed more than
his share. If he was careless of what others thought of him, he
thought much of them. Though no one made more light of pain on his
own account, no one could have more carefully avoided giving pain to
others, except when duty demanded it; and one of his classmates* (*
Colonel Turnley.) testifies that he went through the trying ordeal of
four years at West Point without ever having a hard word or bad
feeling from cadet or professor.

Nor did his comrades fail to remember that when he was unjustly
blamed he chose to bear the imputation silently rather than expose
those who were really at fault. And so, even in that lighthearted
battalion, his sterling worth compelled respect. All honoured his
efforts and wished him God-speed. "While there were many," says
Colonel Turnley, "who seemed to surpass him in intellect, in
geniality, and in good-fellowship, there was no one of our class who
more absolutely possessed the respect and confidence of all; and in
the end Old Jack, as he was always called, with his desperate
earnestness, his unflinching straightforwardness, and his high sense
of honour, came to be regarded by his comrades with something very
like affection."

One peculiarity cannot be passed by.

When at study he always sat bolt upright at his table with his book
open before him, and when he was not using pencil and paper to solve
a problem, he would often keep his eyes fixed on the wall or ceiling
in the most profound abstraction. "No one I have ever known," says a
cadet who shared his barrack-room, "could so perfectly withdraw his
mind from surrounding objects or influences, and so thoroughly
involve his whole being in the subject under consideration. His
lessons were uppermost in his mind, and to thoroughly understand them
was always his determined effort. To make the author's knowledge his
own was ever the point at which he aimed. This intense application of
mind was naturally strengthened by constant exercise, and month by
month, and year by year, his faculties of perception developed
rapidly, until he grasped with unerring quickness the inceptive
points of all ethical and mathematical problems."

This power of abstraction and of application is well worth noting,
for not only was it remarkable in a boy, but, as we shall see
hereafter, it had much to do with the making of the soldier.

At West Point Jackson was troubled with the return of the obscure
complaint which had already threatened him, and he there began that
rigid observance of the laws of health which afterwards developed to
almost an eccentricity. His peculiar attitude when studying was due
to the fear that if he bent over his work the compression of his
internal organs might increase their tendency to disease.

And not only did he lay down rules for his physical regimen. A book
of maxims which he drew up at West Point has been preserved, and we
learn that his scrupulous exactness, his punctilious courtesy, and
his choice of companions were the outcome of much deliberation.

Nothing in this curious volume occurs to show that his thoughts had
yet been turned to religion. It is as free from all reference to the
teachings of Christianity as the maxims of Marcus Aurelius.

Every line there written shows that at this period of Jackson's life
devotion to duty was his guiding rule; and, notwithstanding his
remarkable freedom from egotism, the traces of an engrossing ambition
and of absolute self-dependence are everywhere apparent. Many of the
sentiments he would have repudiated in after-life as inconsistent
with humility; but there can be no question that it was a strong and
fearless hand that penned on a conspicuous page the sentence: "You
can be what you resolve to be."


Jackson was already a man in years when he passed his final
examination, and here the record of his boyhood may fitly close. He
had made no particular mark at the Academy. His memory, in the minds
of his comrades, was associated with his gravity, his silence, his
kind heart, and his awkward movements. No one suspected him of nobler
qualities than dogged perseverance and a strict regard for truth. The
officers and sergeants of the cadet battalion were supplied by the
cadets themselves; but Jackson was never promoted. In the mimic
warfare of the playground at Brienne Napoleon was master of the
revels. His capacity for command had already been detected; but
neither comrade nor teacher saw beneath the unpromising exterior of
the West Point student a trace of aught save what was commonplace.

And yet there is much in the boyhood of Stonewall Jackson that
resembles the boyhood of Napoleon, of all great soldiers the most
original. Both were affectionate. Napoleon lived on bread and water
that he might educate his brothers; Jackson saved his cadet's pay to
give his sister a silk dress. Both were indefatigable students,
impressed with the conviction that the world was to be conquered by
force of intellect. Jackson, burning his lessons into his brain, is
but the counterpart of the young officer who lodged with a professor
of mathematics that he might attend his classes, and who would wait
to explain the lectures to those who had not clearly understood them.
Both were provincial, neither was prepossessing. If the West Point
cadets laughed at Jackson's large hands and feet, was not Napoleon,
with his thin legs thrust into enormous boots, saluted by his
friend's children, on his first appearance in uniform, with the
nickname of Le Chat Botte? It is hard to say which was the more
laughable: the spare and bony figure of the cadet, sitting bolt
upright like a graven image in a tight uniform, with his eyes glued
to the ceiling of his barrack-room, or the young man, with gaunt
features, round shoulders, and uncombed hair, who wandered alone
about the streets of Paris in 1795.

They had the same love of method and of order. The accounts of the
Virginian constable was not more scrupulously kept than the ledgers
of Napoleon's household, nor could they show a greater regard for
economy than the tailor's bill, still extant, on which the future
Emperor gained a reduction of four sous. But it was not on such
trivial lines alone that they run parallel. An inflexibility of
purpose, an absolute disregard of popular opinion, and an unswerving
belief in their own capacity, were predominant in both. They could
say "No." Neither sought sympathy, and both felt that they were
masters of their own fate. "You can be whatever you resolve to be"
may be well placed alongside the speech of the brigadier of
five-and-twenty: "Have patience. I will command in Paris presently.
What should I do there now?"

But here the parallel ends. In Jackson, even as a cadet, self was
subordinate to duty. Pride was foreign to his nature. He was
incapable of pretence, and his simplicity was inspired by that
disdain of all meanness which had been his characteristic from a
child. His brain was disturbed by no wild visions; no intemperate
ambition confused his sense of right and wrong. "The essence of his
mind," as has been said of another of like mould, "was clearness,
healthy purity, incompatibility with fraud in any of its forms." It
was his instinct to be true and straightforward as it was Napoleon's
to be false and subtle. And, if, as a youth, he showed no trace of
marked intellectual power; if his instructors saw no sign of
masterful resolution and a genius for command, it was because at West
Point, as elsewhere, his great qualities lay dormant, awaiting the
emergency that should call them forth.

CHAPTER 1.2. MEXICO. 1846-47.


On June 30, 1846, Jackson received the brevet rank of second
lieutenant of artillery. He was fortunate from the very outset of his
military career. The officers of the United States army, thanks to
the thorough education and Spartan discipline of West Point, were
fine soldiers; but their scope was limited. On the western frontier,
far beyond the confines of civilisation, stood a long line of forts,
often hundreds of miles apart, garrisoned by a few troops of cavalry
or companies of infantry. It is true that there was little chance of
soldierly capacity rusting in these solitary posts. From the borders
of Canada to the banks of the Rio Grande swarmed thousands of savage
warriors, ever watchful for an opportunity to pay back with bloody
interest the aggression of the whites. Murder, robbery, and massacre
followed each other in rapid succession, and the troops were allowed
few intervals of rest. But the warfare was inglorious--a mere series
of petty incidents, the punishment of a raid, or the crushing of an
isolated revolt. The scanty butcher's bills of the so-called battles
made small appeal to the popular imagination, and the deeds of the
soldiers in the western wilderness, gallant as they might be, aroused
less interest in the States than the conflicts of the police with the
New York mob. But although pursuits which carried the adversaries
half across the continent, forays which were of longer duration than
a European war, and fights against overwhelming odds, where no
quarter was asked or given, kept the American officers constantly
employed, their training was hardly sufficient for the needs of a
great campaign. In the running fights against Apache or Blackfoot the
rules of strategy and tactics were of small account. The soldier was
constrained to acknowledge the brave and the trapper as his teachers;
and Moltke himself, with all his lore, would have been utterly
baffled by the cunning of the Indian. Before the war of 1845-6 the
strength of the regular army was not more than 8500 men; and the
whole of this force, with the exception of a few batteries, was
scattered in small detachments along the frontier. The troops were
never brought together in considerable bodies; and although they were
well drilled and under the strictest discipline, neither the
commanders nor the staff had the least experience of handling men in
masses. Many of the infantry officers had never drilled with a whole
battalion since they left West Point. A brigade of cavalry--that is,
two or three regiments working together as a single unit--had never
been assembled; and scarcely a single general had ever commanded a
force composed of the three arms, either on service or on parade.
"During my twenty years of service on the frontier," said one of the
most famous of the Confederate leaders,* (* General R.S. Ewell.) "I
learned all about commanding fifty United States dragoons and forgot
everything else."

Nevertheless, this life of enterprise and hard work, the constant
struggle against nature, for the illimitable space of the
inhospitable wilderness was a more formidable antagonist than the
stealthy savage, benefited the American soldier in more ways than
one. He grew accustomed to danger and privation. He learned to use
his wits; to adapt his means to his end; to depend on his
intelligence rather than on rule. Above all, even the most junior had
experience of independent command before the enemy. A ready
assumption of responsibility and a prompt initiative distinguished
the regular officers from the very outset of the Civil War; and these
characteristics had been acquired on the western prairies.

But the warfare of the frontier had none of the glamour of the
warfare which is waged with equal arms against an equal enemy, of the
conflict of nation against nation. To bring the foe to bay was a
matter of the utmost difficulty. A fight at close quarters was of
rare occurrence, and the most successful campaign ended in the
destruction of a cluster of dirty wigwams, or the surrender of a
handful of starving savages. In such unsatisfactory service Jackson
was not called upon to take a part. It is doubtful if he ever crossed
the Mississippi. His first experience of campaigning was to be on a
field where gleams of glory were not wanting. The ink on his
commission was scarcely dry when the artillery subaltern was ordered
to join his regiment, the First Artillery, in Mexico. The war with
the Southern Republic had blazed out on the Texan border in 1845, and
the American Government had now decided to carry it into the heart of
the hostile territory. With the cause of quarrel we have no concern.
General Grant has condemned the war as "one of the most unjust ever
waged by a stronger against a weaker nation."* (* Grant's Memoirs
volume 1 page 53.) Be this as it may, it is doubtful whether any of
Grant's brother officers troubled themselves at all with the equity
of invasion. It was enough for them that the expedition meant a
struggle with a numerous enemy, armed and organised on the European
model, and with much experience of war; that it promised a campaign
in a country which was the very region of romance, possessing a
lovely climate, historic cities, and magnificent scenery. The genius
of Prescott had just disentombed from dusty archives the marvellous
story of the Spanish conquest, and the imagination of many a youthful
soldier had been already kindled by his glowing pages. To follow the
path of Cortez, to traverse the golden realms of Montezuma, to look
upon the lakes and palaces of Mexico, the most ancient city of
America, to encamp among the temples of a vanished race, and to hear,
while the fireflies flitted through the perfumed night, the music of
the black-eyed maidens of New Spain--was ever more fascinating
prospect offered to a subaltern of two-and-twenty?

The companies of the First Artillery which had been detailed for
foreign service were first transferred to Point Isabel, at the mouth
of the Rio Grande. Several engagements had already taken place. Palo
Alto, Resaca de la Palma, and Monterey were brilliant American
victories, won by hard fighting over superior numbers; and a vast
extent of territory had been overrun. But the Mexicans were still
unconquered. The provinces they had lost were but the fringe of the
national domains; the heart of the Republic had not yet felt the
pressure of war, and more than six hundred miles of difficult country
intervened between the invaders and the capital. The American
proposals for peace had been summarily rejected. A new President,
General Santa Anna, had been raised to power, and under his vigorous
administration the war threatened to assume a phase sufficiently
embarrassing to the United States.

Jackson had been attached to a heavy battery, and his first duty was
to transport guns and mortars to the forts which protected Point
Isabel. The prospect of immediate employment before the enemy was
small. Operations had come to a standstill. It was already apparent
that a direct advance upon the capital, through the northern
provinces, was an enterprise which would demand an army much larger
than the Government was disposed to furnish. It seemed as if the
First Artillery had come too late. Jackson was fearful that the war
might come to an end before his regiment should be sent to the front.
The shy cadet had a decided taste for fighting. "I envy you men," he
said to a comrade more fortunate than himself,* (* Lieutenant D.H.
Hill, afterwards his brother-in-law.) "who have been in battle. How I
should like to be in ONE battle!" His longing for action was soon
gratified. Mexico had no navy and a long sea-board. The fleet of the
United States was strong, their maritime resources ample, and to land
an army on a shorter route to the distant capital was no difficult


General Winfield Scott, who had been sent out as commander-in-chief,
was permitted, early in 1847, to organise a combined naval and
military expedition for the reduction of Vera Cruz, the principal
port of the Republic, whence a good road leads to Mexico. The line of
advance would be thus reduced to two hundred and sixty miles; and the
natural obstacles, though numerous enough, were far less serious than
the deserts which barred invasion from the north. For this enterprise
most of the regular regiments were withdrawn from the Rio Grande; and
General Taylor, the hero of Palo Alto and Monterey, was left with a
small army, composed principally of volunteers, to hold the conquered
provinces. Scott's troops assembled in the first instance at Tampico.
The transports, eighty in number, having embarked their freight, were
directed to rendezvous in the road stead of Lobos, one hundred and
twenty miles north of Vera Cruz; and when the whole had assembled,
the fleet set sail for Los Sacrificios, the island where Cortez had
landed in 1520, three miles south of the city. The army of invasion,
in which the First Regiment of Artillery was included, consisted of
13,000 men.

March 9.

On the morning of March 9 the sun shone propitiously on the
expedition. The surf-boats, each holding from seventy to eighty men,
were quickly arrayed in line. Then, dashing forward simultaneously,
with the strains of martial music sweeping over the smooth waters of
the bay, they neared the shore. The landing was covered by seven
armed vessels, and as the boats touched the beach the foremost men
leaped into the water and ran up the sandy shore. In one hour General
Worth's division, numbering 4500 men, was disembarked; and by the
same precise arrangements the whole army was landed in six hours
without accident or confusion. To the astonishment of the Americans
the enemy offered no resistance, and the troops bivouacked in line of
battle on the beach.

Little more than a mile north, across a waste of sand-hills, rose the
white walls of Vera Cruz. The city was held by 4000 men, and its
armament was formidable. The troops, however, but partially
organised, were incapable of operations in the open field. The
garrison had not been reinforced. Santa Anna, on learning that the
American army on the Rio Grande had been reduced, had acted with
commendable promptitude. Collecting all the troops that were
available he had marched northwards, expecting, doubtless, to
overwhelm Taylor and still to be in time to prevent Scott from
seizing a good harbour. But distance was against him, and his
precautions were inadequate. Even if he defeated Taylor, he would
have to march more than a thousand miles to encounter Scott, and Vera
Cruz was ill provided for a siege. It was difficult, it is true, for
the Mexican general to anticipate the point at which the Americans
would disembark. An army that moves by sea possesses the advantage
that its movements are completely veiled. But Vera Cruz was decidedly
the most probable objective of the invaders, and, had it been made
secure, the venture of the Americans would have been rendered
hazardous. As it was, with Santa Anna's army far away, the reduction
of the fortress presented little difficulty. An immediate assault
would in all likelihood have proved successful. Scott, however,
decided on a regular siege. His army was small, and a march on the
capital was in prospect. The Government grudged both men and money,
and an assault would have cost more lives than could well be spared.
On March 18 the trenches were completed. Four days later, sufficient
heavy ordnance having been landed, the bombardment was begun.

March 27.

On the 27th the town surrendered; the garrison laid down their arms,
and 400 cannon, many of large calibre, fell into the hands of the

The fall of Vera Cruz was brought about by the heavy artillery, aided
by the sailors, and the First Regiment was continuously engaged. The
Mexican fire, notwithstanding their array of guns, was comparatively
harmless. The garrison attempted no sortie; and only 64 of the
investing force were killed or wounded. Nevertheless, Jackson's
behaviour under fire attracted notice, and a few months later he was
promoted to first lieutenant "for gallant and meritorious conduct at
the siege of Vera Cruz."* (* He had been promoted second lieutenant
on March 3. Records of the First Regiment of Artillery.)

Scott had now secured an admirable line of operations; but the
projected march upon the city of Mexico was a far more arduous
undertaking than the capture of the port. The ancient capital of
Montezuma stands high above the sea. The famous valley which
surrounds it is embosomed in the heart of a vast plateau, and the
roads which lead to this lofty region wind by steep gradients over
successive ranges of rugged and precipitous mountains. Between Vera
Cruz and the upland lies a level plain, sixty miles broad, and
covered with tropical forest. Had it been possible to follow up the
initial victory by a rapid advance, Cerro Gordo, the first, and the
most difficult, of the mountain passes, might have been occupied
without a blow. Santa Anna, defeated by Taylor at Buena Vista, but
returning hot foot to block Scott's path, was still distant, and
Cerro Gordo was undefended. But the progress of the Americans was
arrested by the difficulties inherent in all maritime expeditions.

An army landing on a hostile coast has to endure a certain period of
inactivity. Under ordinary circumstances, as at Vera Cruz, the
process of disembarking men is rapidly accomplished. The field-guns
follow with but little delay, and a certain proportion of cavalry
becomes early available. But the disembarkation of the
impedimenta--the stores, waggons, hospitals, ammunition, and
transport animals--even where ample facilities exist, demands far
more time than the disembarkation of the fighting force. In the
present case, as all the animals had to be requisitioned in the
country, it was not till the middle of April that supplies and
transport sufficient to warrant further movement had been
accumulated; and meanwhile General Santa Anna, halting in the
mountains, had occupied the pass of Cerro Gordo with 13,000 men and
42 pieces of artillery. The Mexican position was exceedingly strong.
The right rested on a deep ravine, with precipitous cliffs; the left,
on the hill of Cerro Gordo, covered with batteries, and towering to
the height of several hundred feet above the surrounding ridges;
while the front, strongly intrenched, and commanding the road which
wound zigzag fashion up the steep ascent, followed the crest of a
lofty ridge.

The Americans reached the foot of the pass without difficulty. The
enemy had made no attempt to check their passage through the forest.
Confident in the inaccessibility of his mountain crags, in his
numerous guns and massive breastworks, Santa Anna reserved his
strength for battle on ground of his own selection.

Several days were consumed in reconnaissance. The engineers, to whom
this duty was generally assigned in the American army, pushed their
explorations to either flank. At length the quick eye of a young
officer, Captain Robert Lee, already noted for his services at Vera
Cruz, discovered a line of approach, hidden from the enemy, by which
the position might be turned. In three days a rough road was
constructed by which guns could be brought to bear on the hill of
Cerro Gordo, and infantry marched round to strike the Mexicans in

April 18.

The attack, delivered at daylight on April 18, was brilliantly
successful. The enemy was completely surprised. Cerro Gordo was
stormed with the bayonet, and Santa Anna's right, assaulted from a
direction whence he confessed that he had not believed a goat could
approach his lines, was rolled back in confusion on his centre. 1200
Mexicans were killed and wounded, and 3000 captured, together with
the whole of their artillery.* (* The Americans had about 8500 men
upon the field, and their loss was 431, including two generals.
Memoirs of Lieutenant-General Scott.) The next day the pursuit was
pushed with uncompromising resolution. Amidst pathless mountains,
6000 feet above the sea, where every spur formed a strong position,
the defeated army was permitted neither halt nor respite. The
American dragoons, undeterred by numbers, pressed forward along the
road, making hundreds of prisoners, and spreading panic in the broken

May 15.

The infantry followed, sturdily breasting the long ascent; a second
intrenched position, barring the La Hoya pass, was abandoned on their
approach; the strong castle of Perote, with an armament of 60 guns
and mortars, opened its gates without firing a shot, and on May 15
the great city of Puebla, surrounded by glens of astonishing
fertility, and only eighty miles from Mexico, was occupied without

At Cerro Gordo the First Artillery were employed as infantry. Their
colours were amongst the first to be planted on the enemy's
breastworks. But in none of the reports does Jackson's name occur.*
(* According to the Regimental Records his company (K) was not
engaged in the battle, but only in the pursuit.) The battle, however,
brought him good luck. Captain Magruder, an officer of his own
regiment, who was to win distinction on wider fields, had captured a
Mexican field battery, which Scott presented to him as a reward for
his gallantry. Indian wars had done but little towards teaching
American soldiers the true use of artillery. Against a rapidly moving
enemy, who systematically forebore exposing himself in mass, and in a
country where no roads existed, only the fire-arm was effective. But
already, at Palo Alto and Resaca, against the serried lines and
thronging cavalry of the Mexicans, light field-guns had done
extraordinary execution. The heavy artillery, hitherto the more
favoured service, saw itself eclipsed. The First Regiment, however,
had already been prominent on the fighting line. It had won
reputation with the bayonet at Cerro Gordo, and before Mexico was
reached there were other battles to be fought, and other positions to
be stormed. A youth with a predilection for hard knocks might have
been content with the chances offered to the foot-soldier. But
Jackson's partiality for his own arm was as marked as was Napoleon's,
and the decisive effect of a well-placed battery appealed to his
instincts with greater force than the wild rush of a charge of
infantry. Skilful manoeuvring was more to his taste than the mere
bludgeon work of fighting at close quarters.

Two subalterns were required for the new battery. The position meant
much hard work, and possibly much discomfort. Magruder was restless
and hot-tempered, and the young officers of artillery showed no
eagerness to go through the campaign as his subordinates. Not so
Jackson. He foresaw that service with a light battery, under a bold
and energetic leader, was likely to present peculiar opportunities;
and with his thorough devotion to duty, his habits of industry, and
his strong sense of self-reliance, he had little fear of
disappointing the expectations of the most exacting superior. "I
wanted to see active service," he said in after years, "to be near
the enemy in the fight; and when I heard that John Magruder had got
his battery I bent all my energies to be with him, for I knew if any
fighting was to be done, Magruder would be "on hand."" His soldierly
ambition won its due reward. The favours of fortune fall to the men
who woo more often than to those who wait. The barrack-room proverb
which declares that ill-luck follows the volunteer must assuredly
have germinated in a commonplace brain. It is characteristic of men
who have cut their way to fame that they have never allowed the
opportunity to escape them. The successful man pushes to the front
and seeks his chance; those of a temper less ardent wait till duty
calls and the call may never come. Once before, when, despite his
manifold disadvantages, he secured his nomination to West Point,
Jackson had shown how readily he recognised an opening; now, when his
comrades held back, he eagerly stepped forward, to prove anew the
truth of the vigorous adage, "Providence helps those who help

The American army was delayed long at Puebla. Several regiments of
volunteers, who had engaged only for a short term of service,
demanded their discharge, and reinforcements were slow in arriving.

August 7.

It was not until the first week in August that Scott was able to move
upon the capital. The army now numbered 14,000 men. Several hundred
were sick in hospital, and 600 convalescents, together with 600
effectives, were left to garrison Puebla. The field force was
organised in four divisions: the first, under Major-General Worth;
the second, under Major-General Twiggs; the third, to which
Magruder's battery was attached, under Major-General Pillow; the
fourth (volunteers and marines), under Major-General Pierce. Four
field batteries, a small brigade of dragoons, and a still smaller
siege train* (* Two 24-pounders, two 8-inch howitzers, and two light
pieces. Ripley's History of the Mexican War.) made up a total of
11,500 officers and men. During the three months that his enemy was
idle at Puebla, Santa Anna had reorganised his army; and 30,000
Mexicans, including a formidable body of cavalry, fine horsemen and
well trained,* (* It is said, however, that their horses were little
more than ponies, and far too light for a charge. Semmes' Campaign of
General Scott.) and a large number of heavy batteries, were now ready
to oppose the advance of the invaders.

On August 10 the American army crossed the Rio Frio Mountains, 10,000
feet above the sea, the highest point between the Atlantic and the
Pacific, and as the troops descended the western slopes the valley of
Mexico first broke upon their view. There, beneath the shadow of her
mighty mountains, capped with eternal snows, stood

The Imperial city, her far circling walls,
Her garden groves, and stately palaces.

There lay the broad plain of Tenochtitlan, with all its wealth of
light and colour, the verdure of the forest, the warmer hues of the
great corn-fields, ripening to the harvest, and the sheen and sparkle
of the distant lakes. There it lay, as it burst upon the awe-struck
vision of Cortez and his companions, "bathed in the golden sunshine,
stretched out as it were in slumber, in the arms of the giant hills."

On every hand were the signs of a teeming population. White villages
and substantial haciendas glistened in the woodlands; roads broad and
well-travelled crossed the level; and in the clear atmosphere of
those lofty altitudes the vast size of the city was plainly visible.
The whole army of Mexico formed the garrison; hills crowned with
batteries commanded the approaches, while a network of canals on
either flank and a broad area of deep water enhanced the difficulties
of manoeuvre. The line of communication, far too long to be
maintained by the small force at Scott's disposal, had already been
abandoned. The army depended for subsistence on what it could
purchase in the country; the sick and wounded were carried with the
troops, and there was no further reserve of ammunition than that
which was packed in the regimental waggons. Cortez and his four
hundred when they essayed the same enterprise were not more
completely isolated, for, while the Spaniard had staunch allies in
the hereditary foes of the Aztecs, Scott's nearest supports were at
Puebla, eighty miles from Mexico, and these numbered only 1200
effective soldiers. The most adventurous of leaders might well have
hesitated ere he plunged into the great valley, swarming with
enemies, and defended by all the resources of a civilised State. But
there was no misgiving in the ranks of the Americans. With that
wholesome contempt for a foreign foe which has wrought more good than
evil for the Anglo-Saxon race, the army moved forward without a halt.
"Recovering," says Scott, "from the trance into which the magnificent
spectacle had thrown them, probably not a man in the column failed to
say to his neighbour or himself, "That splendid city shall soon be

The fortifications which protected Mexico on the east were found to
be impregnable. The high ridge of El Penon, manned by nearly the
whole of Santa Anna's army, blocked the passage between the lakes,
and deep morasses added to the difficulties of approach. To the
south, however, on the far side of Lake Chalco, lay a more level
tract, but accessible only by roads which the Mexicans deemed
impracticable. Despite the difficulties of the route, the manoeuvre
of Cerro Gordo was repeated on a grander scale.

August 16 to 18.

After a toilsome march of seven-and-twenty miles from Ayotla, over
the spurs of the sierras, the troops reached the great road which
leads to the capital from the south. Across this road was more than
one line of fortifications, to which the Mexican army had been
hurriedly transferred. The hacienda of San Antonio, six miles from
the city, strengthened by field-works and defended by heavy guns,
commanded the highway. To the east was a morass, and beyond the
morass were the blue waters of Lake Chalco; while to the west the
Pedregal, a barren tract of volcanic scoriae, over whose sharp rocks
and deep fissures neither horse nor vehicle could move, flanked the
American line of march. The morass was absolutely impassable.

August 19.

The gloomy solitude of the Pedregal, extending to the mountains, five
miles distant, seemed equally forbidding; but the engineer officers
came once more to the rescue. A road across the Pedregal, little
better than a mule track, was discovered by Captain Lee. Under cover
of a strong escort it was rapidly improved, and Pillow's and Worth's
divisions, accompanied by Magruder's battery, were directed to cross
the waste of rocks. Beyond the Pedregal was a good road, approaching
the city from the south-west; and by this road the post of San
Antonio might be assailed in rear.

Overlooking the road, however, as well as the issues from the
Pedregal, was a high ridge, backed by the mountains, and held by 6000
Mexicans. Opposite this ridge the Americans came out on cultivated
ground, but all further progress was completely checked. Shortly
after midday the leading brigade, with Magruder's battery on hand,
reached the summit of a hill within a thousand yards of the enemy's
breastworks. Magruder came at once into action, and the infantry
attempted to push forward. But the Mexican artillery was far
superior, both in number of pieces and weight of metal, and the
ground was eminently unfavourable for attack. Two-and-twenty heavy
cannon swept the front; the right of the position was secured by a
deep ravine; masses of infantry were observed in rear of the
intrenchments, and several regiments of lancers were in close
support. For three hours the battle raged fiercely. On the right the
Americans pushed forward, crossing with extreme difficulty an
outlying angle of the Pedregal, covered with dense scrub, and
occupied the village of Contreras. But elsewhere they made no
impression. They were without cavalry, and Magruder's guns were far
too few and feeble to keep down the fire of the hostile batteries.
"The infantry," says Scott, "could not advance in column without
being mowed down by grape and canister, nor advance in line without
being ridden down by the enemy's numerous horsemen." Nor were the
Mexicans content on this occasion to remain passively in their works.
Both infantry and cavalry attempted to drive the assailants back upon
the Pedregal; and, although these counterstrokes were successfully
repulsed, when darkness fell the situation of the troops was by no
means favourable. Heavy columns of Mexicans were approaching from the
city; the remainder of the American army was opposite San Antonio,
five miles distant, on the far side of the Pedregal, and no support
could be expected. To add to their discomfort, it rained heavily; the
thunder crashed in the mountains, and torrents of water choked the
streams. The men stood in the darkness drenched and dispirited, and
an attack made by a Mexican battalion induced General Pillow to
withdraw Magruder's battery from the ridge. The senior subaltern had
been killed. 15 gunners and as many horses had fallen. The slopes
were covered with huge boulders, and it was only by dint of the most
strenuous exertions that the guns were brought down in safety to the
lower ground.

A council of war was then held in Contreras Church, and, contrary to
the traditionary conduct of such conventions, a most desperate
expedient was adopted. The Mexican reinforcements, 12,000 strong, had
halted on the main road, their advanced guard within a few hundred
yards of the village. Leaving two regiments to hold this imposing
force in check, it was determined to make a night march and turn the
rear of the intrenchments on the ridge. The Commander-in-Chief was
beyond the Pedregal, opposite San Antonio, and it was necessary that
he should be informed of the projected movement.

"I have always understood," says an officer present in this quarter
of the field, "that what was devised and determined on was suggested
by Captain Lee; at all events the council was closed by his saying
that he desired to return to General Scott with the decision, and
that, as it was late, the decision must be given as soon as possible,
since General Scott wished him to return in time to give directions
for co-operation. During the council, and for hours after, the rain
fell in torrents, whilst the darkness was so intense that one could
move only by groping."

The Pedregal was infested by straggling bands of Mexicans; and yet,
over those five miles of desolation, with no guide but the wind, or
an occasional flash of lightning, Lee, unaccompanied by a single
orderly, made his way to Scott's headquarters. This perilous
adventure was characterised by the Commander-in-Chief as "the
greatest feat of physical and moral courage performed by any
individual during the entire campaign."

August 20.


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