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

Part 15 out of 19

friend of all the turmoil around him. As he had done us the honour to
make an afternoon call on the artillery, I thought it becoming in
someone to say something on the occasion. No one did, however, so,
although a somewhat bashful and weak-kneed youngster, I plucked up
courage enough to venture to remark that those big guns over the
river had been knocking us about pretty considerably during the day.
He quickly turned his head, and I knew in an instant who it was
before me. The clear-cut, chiselled features; the thin, compressed
and determined lips; the calm, steadfast eye; the countenance to
command respect, and in time of war to give the soldier that
confidence he so much craves from a superior officer, were all there.
He turned his head quickly, and looking me all over, rode up the line
and away as quickly and silently as he came, his little courier hard
upon his heels; and this was my first sight of Stonewall Jackson."

From his own lines Jackson passed along the front, drawing the fire
of the Federal skirmishers, who were creeping forward, and proceeded
to the centre of the position, where, on the eminence which has since
borne the name of Lee's Hill, the Commander-in-Chief, surrounded by
his generals, was giving his last instructions. It was past nine
o'clock. The sun, shining out with almost September warmth, was
drawing up the mist which hid the opposing armies; and as the dense
white folds dissolved and rolled sway, the Confederates saw the broad
plain beneath them dark with more than 80,000 foes. Of these the left
wing, commanded by Franklin, and composed of 55,000 men and 116 guns,
were moving against the Second Corps; 30,000, under Sumner, were
forming for attack on Longstreet, and from the heights of Stafford,
where the reserves were posted in dense masses, a great storm of shot
and shell burst upon the Confederate lines. "For once," says Dabney,
"war unmasked its terrible proportions with a distinctness hitherto
unknown in the forest-clad landscapes of America, and the plain of
Fredericksburg presented a panorama that was dreadful in its
grandeur." It was then that Longstreet, to whose sturdy heart the
approach of battle seemed always welcome, said to Jackson, "General,
do not all those multitudes of Federals frighten you?" "We shall very
soon see whether I shall not frighten them;" and with this grim reply
the commander of the Second Corps rode back to meet Franklin's onset.

9 A.M.

The Federals were already advancing. From Deep Run southward, for
more than a mile and a half, three great lines of battle, accompanied
by numerous batteries, moved steadily forward, powerful enough, to
all appearance, to bear down all opposition by sheer weight of
numbers. "On they came," says an eye-witness, "in beautiful order, as
if on parade, their bayonets glistening in the bright sunlight; on
they came, waving their hundreds of regimental flags, which relieved
with warm bits of colouring the dull blue of the columns and the
russet tinge of the wintry landscape, while their artillery beyond
the river continued the cannonade with unabated fury over their
heads, and gave a background of white fleecy smoke, like midsummer
clouds, to the animated picture."

And yet that vast array, so formidable of aspect, lacked that moral
force without which physical power, even in its most terrible form,
is but an idle show. Not only were the strength of the Confederate
position, the want of energy in the preliminary movements, the
insecurity of their own situation, but too apparent to the
intelligence of the regimental officers and men, but they mistrusted
their commander. Northern writers have recorded that the Army of the
Potomac never went down to battle with less alacrity than on this day
at Fredericksburg.

Nor was the order of attack of such a character as to revive the
confidence of the troops. Burnside, deluded by the skill with which
Jackson had hidden his troops into the belief that the Second Army
Corps was still at Port Royal, had instructed Franklin to seize the
ridge with a single division, and Meade's 4,500 Pennsylvanians were
sent forward alone, while the remainder of the Grand Division, over
50,000 strong, stood halted on the plain, awaiting the result of this
hopeless manoeuvre.* (* Franklin's Grand Division consisted of the
42,800 men, and 12,000 of Hooker's Grand Division had reinforced
him.) Meade advanced in three lines, each of a brigade, with
skirmishers in front and on the flank, and his progress was soon
checked. No sooner had his first line crossed the Richmond road than
the left was assailed by a well-directed and raking artillery fire.

Captain Pelham, commanding Stuart's horse-artillery, had galloped
forward by Jackson's orders with his two rifled guns, and, escorted
by a dismounted squadron, had come into action beyond a marshy stream
which ran through a tangled ravine on the Federal flank. So telling
was his fire that the leading brigade wavered and gave ground; and
though Meade quickly brought up his guns and placed his third brigade
en potence in support, he was unable to continue his forward movement
until he had brushed away his audacious antagonist. The four
Pennsylvania batteries were reinforced by two others; but rapidly
changing his position as often as the Federal gunners found his
range, for more than half an hour Pelham defied their efforts, and
for that space of time arrested the advance of Meade's 4,500
infantry. One of his pieces was soon disabled; but with the remaining
gun, captured from the enemy six months before, he maintained the
unequal fight until his limbers were empty, and he received
peremptory orders from Stuart to withdraw.

On Pelham's retirement, Franklin, bringing several batteries forward
to the Richmond road, for more than half an hour subjected the woods
before him to a heavy cannonade, in which the guns on the Stafford
Heights played a conspicuous part. Hidden, however, by the thick
timber, Jackson's regiments lay secure, unharmed by the tempest that
crashed above them through the leafless branches; and, reserving
their fire for the hostile infantry, his guns were silent. The
general, meanwhile, according to his custom, had walked far out into
the fields to reconnoitre for himself, and luck favoured the
Confederacy on this day of battle. Lieutenant Smith was his only
companion, and a Federal sharpshooter, suddenly rising from some tall
weeds two hundred paces distant, levelled his rifle and fired. The
bullet whistled between their heads, and Jackson, turning with a
smile to his aide-de-camp, said cheerfully: "Mr. Smith, had you not
better go to the rear? They may shoot you." Then, having deliberately
noted the enemy's arrangements, he returned to his station on
Prospect Hill.

11.15 A.M.

It was past eleven before Meade resumed his advance. Covered by the
fire of the artillery, his first line was within eight hundred yards
of Jackson's centre, when suddenly the silent woods awoke to life.
The Confederate batteries, pushing forward from the covert, came
rapidly into action, and the flash and thunder of more than fifty
guns revealed to the astonished Federals the magnitude of the task
they had undertaken. From front and flank came the scathing fire; the
skirmishers were quickly driven in, and on the closed ranks behind
burst the full fury of the storm. Dismayed and decimated by this
fierce and unexpected onslaught, Meade's brigades broke in disorder
and fell back to the Richmond road.

For the next hour and a half an artillery duel, in which over 400
guns took part, raged over the whole field, and the Confederate
batteries, their position at last revealed, engaged with spirit the
more numerous and powerful ordnance of the enemy. Then Franklin
brought up three divisions to Meade's support; and from the
smouldering ruins of Fredericksburg, three miles to the northward,
beyond the high trees of Hazel Run, the deep columns of Sumner's
Grand Division deployed under the fire of Longstreet's guns. Sumner's
attack had been for some time in progress before Franklin was in
readiness to co-operate. The battle was now fully developed, and the
morning mists had been succeeded by dense clouds of smoke, shrouding
bill and plain, through which the cannon flashed redly, and the
defiant yells of Longstreet's riflemen, mingled with their rattling
volleys, stirred the pulses of Jackson's veterans. As the familiar
sounds were borne to their ears, it was seen that the dark lines
beyond the Richmond road were moving forward, and the turn of the
Second Corps had come.

1 P.M.

It was one o'clock, and Jackson's guns had for the moment ceased
their fire. Meade's Pennsylvanians had rallied. Gibbon's division had
taken post on their right; Biney and Newton were in support; and
Doubleday, facing south, was engaged with Stuart's dismounted
troopers. Twenty-one guns on the right, and thirty on the left,
stationed on the Richmond road, a thousand yards from the Confederate
position, formed a second tier to the heavier pieces on the heights,
and fired briskly on the woods. Preceded by clouds of skirmishers,
Meade and Gibbon advanced in column of brigades at three hundred
paces distance, the whole covering a front of a thousand yards; and
the supporting divisions moved up to the Richmond road.

When the Federals reached the scene of their former repulse,
Jackson's guns again opened; but without the same effect, for they
were now exposed to the fire of the enemy's batteries at close range.
Even Pelham could do but little; and the artillery beyond the
railroad on Hill's left was quickly driven in.

Meade's rear brigade was now brought up and deployed on the left of
the first, in the direction of the Massaponax, thus further extending
the front.

The leading brigade made straight for the tongue of woodland which
interposed between Lane and Archer. As they neared the Confederate
line, the Pennsylvanians, masked by the trees, found that they were
no longer exposed to fire, and that the coppice was unoccupied.
Quickly crossing the border, through swamp and undergrowth they
pushed their way, and, bursting from the covert to the right, fell on
the exposed flank of Lane's brigade. The fight was fierce, but the
Southerners were compelled to give ground, for neither Archer nor
Gregg was able to lend assistance.

Meade's second brigade, though following close upon the first, had,
instead of conforming to the change of direction against Lane's
flank, rushed forward through the wood. Two hundred paces from the
embankment it came in contact with Archer's left, which was resting
on the very edge of the coppice. The Confederates were taken by
surprise. Their front was secured by a strong skirmish line; but on
the flank, as the thickets appeared impenetrable, neither scouts nor
pickets had been thrown out, and the men were lying with arms piled.
Two regiments, leaping to their feet and attempting to form line to
the left, were broken by a determined charge, and gave way in
disorder. The remainder, however, stood firm, for the Federals,
instead of following up their success in this direction, left Archer
to be dealt with by the third brigade of the division, which had now
reached the railroad, and swept on towards the military road, where
Gregg's brigade was drawn up within the forest. So thick was the
cover, and so limited the view, that General Gregg, taking the
advancing mass for part of Archer's line retiring, restrained the
fire of his men. The Federals broke upon his right. He himself fell
mortally wounded. His flank regiment, a battalion of conscripts,
fled, except one company, without firing a shot. The two regiments on
the opposite flank, however, were with great readiness turned about,
and changing front inwards, arrested the movement of the enemy along
the rear.

The Federals had now been joined by a portion of the first brigade,
inspirited by their victory over Lane, and the moment, to all
appearance, seemed critical in the extreme for the Confederates. To
the left rear of the attacking column, Meade's third brigade was held
in check by Walker's batteries and the sturdy Archer, who,
notwithstanding that a strong force had passed beyond his flank, and
had routed two of his regiments, still resolutely held his ground,
and prevented his immediate opponents from joining the intruding
column. To the right rear, opposite Pender, Gibbon's division had
been checked by the fire of the great battery near Bernard's Cabin;
two of his brigades had been driven back, and the third had with
difficulty gained the shelter of the embankment. So from neither left
nor right was immediate support to be expected by Meade's victorious
regiments. But on the Richmond road were the divisions of Birney and
Newton, with Doubleday's and Sickles' not far in rear, and 20,000
bayonets might have been thrown rapidly into the gap which the
Pennsylvanians had so vigorously forced. Yet Jackson's equanimity was
undisturbed. The clouds of smoke and the thick timber hid the
fighting in the centre from his post of observation on Prospect Hill,
and the first intimation of the enemy's success was brought by an
aide-de-camp, galloping wildly up the slope. "General," he exclaimed
in breathless haste, "the enemy have broken through Archer's left,
and General Gregg says he must have help, or he and General Archer
will both lose their position." Jackson turned round quietly, and
without the least trace of excitement in either voice or manner, sent
orders to Early and Taliaferro, in third line, to advance with the
bayonet and clear the front. Then, with rare self-restraint, for the
fighting instinct was strong within him, and the danger was so
threatening as to have justified his personal interference, he raised
his field-glasses and resumed his scrutiny of the enemy's reserves on
the Richmond road.

1.45 P.M.

His confidence in his lieutenants was not misplaced. Early's
division, already deployed in line, came forward with a rush, and the
Stonewall Brigade, responding with alacrity to Jackson's summons, led
the advance of Taliaferro.

The counterstroke was vigorous. Meade's brigades had penetrated to
the heart of the Confederate position, but their numbers were reduced
to less than 2000 bayonets; in the fierce fighting and dense thickets
they had lost all semblance of cohesion, and not a single regiment
had supported them. The men looked round in vain for help, and the
forest around them resounded with the yells of the Confederate
reinforcements. Assailed in front and flank by a destructive fire,
the Pennsylvanians were rapidly borne back. Hill's second line joined
in Early's advance. Gibbon was strongly attacked. Six brigades,
sweeping forward from the forest, dashed down the slopes, and in a
few moments the broken remnants of the Federal divisions were
dispersing in panic across the plain. As the enemy fled the
Confederate gunners, disregarding the shells of Franklin's batteries,
poured a heavy fire into the receding mass; and although instructions
had been given that the counterstroke was not to pass the railroad,
Hoke's and Atkinson's brigades,* (* Of Early's Division.) carried
away by success and deaf to all orders, followed in swift pursuit.
Some of Birney's regiments, tardily coming forward to Meade's
support, were swept away, and the yelling line of grey infantry,
shooting down the fugitives and taking many prisoners, pressed on
towards the Richmond road. There the remainder of Birney's division
was drawn up, protected by the breast-high bank, and flanked by
artillery; yet it seemed for a moment as if the two Confederate
brigades would carry all before them.

The troops of Meade and Gibbon were streaming in confusion to the
rear. Two batteries had been abandoned, and before Hake's onset the
left of Birney's infantry gave ground for fifty yards. But the rash
advance had reached its climax. Unsupported, and with empty
cartridge-boxes, the Southerners were unable to face the fire from
the road; sixteen guns had opened on them with canister; and after
suffering heavy losses in killed, wounded, and prisoners, they
withdrew in disorder but unpursued.

The success of the Second Army Corps was greater than even Jackson
realised. Meade and Gibbon had lost 4000 officers and men; and it was
not till late in the afternoon that they were rallied on the river
bank. The casualties in Birney's division swelled the total to 5000,
and the Confederate counterstroke had inflicted a heavier blow than
the tale of losses indicates. Not only the troops which had been
engaged, but those who had witnessed their defeat, who had seen them
enter the enemy's position, and who knew they should have been
supported, were much disheartened.

2.30 P.M.

At 2.30 P.M., soon after the repulse of Hake and Atkinson, Burnside,
having just witnessed the signal failure of a fourth assault on
Longstreet, sent an urgent order to Franklin to renew his attack.
Franklin made no response. He had lost all confidence both in his
superior and his men, and he took upon himself to disobey.

On the Confederate side Taliaferro and Early, with part of the Light
Division, now held the railway embankment and the skirt of the woods.
D.H. Hill was brought up into third line, and the shattered brigades
of A.P. Hill were withdrawn to the rear. During the rest of the
afternoon the skirmishers were actively engaged, but although
Jackson's victorious soldiery long and eagerly expected a renewal of
the assault, the enemy refused to be again tempted to close quarters.

On the left, meanwhile, where the battle still raged, the
Confederates were equally successful. Against an impregnable position
40,000 Northerners were madly hurled by the general of Mr. Lincoln's
choice. By those hapless and stout-hearted soldiers, sacrificed to
incompetency, a heroism was displayed which won the praise and the
pity of their opponents. The attack was insufficiently prepared, and
feebly supported, by the artillery. The troops were formed on a
narrow front. Marye's Hill, the strongest portion of the position,
where the Confederate infantry found shelter behind a stout stone
wall, and numerous batteries occupied the commanding ground in rear,
was selected for assault. Neither feint nor demonstration, the
ordinary expedients by which the attacker seeks to distract the
attention and confuse the efforts of the defence, was made use of;
and yet division after division, with no abatement of courage,
marched in good order over the naked plain, dashed forward with
ever-thinning ranks, and then, receding sullenly before the storm of
fire, left, within a hundred yards of the stone wall, a long line of
writhing forms to mark the limit of their advance.

3 P.M.

Two army corps had been repulsed by Longstreet with fearful slaughter
when Meade and Gibbon gave way before Jackson's counterstroke, and by
three o'clock nearly one-half of the Federal army was broken and
demoralised. The time appeared to have come for a general advance of
the Confederates. Before Fredericksburg, the wreck of Sumner's Grand
Division was still clinging to such cover as the ground afforded. On
the Richmond road, in front of Jackson, Franklin had abandoned all
idea of the offensive, and was bringing up his last reserves to
defend his line. The Confederates, on the other hand, were in the
highest spirits, and had lost but few.

General Lee's arrangements, however, had not included preparation for
a great counterstroke, and such a movement is not easily improvised.
The position had been occupied for defensive purposes alone. There
was no general reserve, no large and intact force which could have
moved to the attack immediately the opportunity offered. "No skill,"
says Longstreet, "could have marshalled our troops for offensive
operations in time to meet the emergency. My line was long and over
broken country, so much so that the troops could not be promptly
handled in offensive operations. Jackson's corps was in mass, and
could he have anticipated the result of my battle, he would have been
justified in pressing Franklin to the river when the battle of the
latter was lost. Otherwise, pursuit would have been as unwise as the
attack he had just driven off. It is well known that after driving
off attacking forces, if immediate pursuit can be made, so that the
victors can go along with the retreating forces pell-mell, it is well
enough to do so; but the attack should be immediate. To follow a
success by counter-attack against the enemy in position is
problematical."* (* Battles and Leaders volume 3 pages 82-3.)

Moreover, so large was the battle-field, so limited the view by
reason of the woods, and with such ease had the Federal attacks been
repulsed, that General Lee was unaware of the extent of his success.
Ignorant, too, as he necessarily was, of the mistrust and want of
confidence in its leaders with which the Federal army was infected,
he was far from suspecting what a strong ally he had in the hearts of
his enemies; while, on the other hand, the inaccessible batteries on
the Stafford Heights were an outward and visible token of unabated

Jackson, however, although the short winter day was already closing
in, considered that the attempt was worth making. About 3 P.M. he had
seen a feeble attack on the Confederate centre repulsed by Hood and
Pender, and about the same time he received information of
Longstreet's success.

Franklin, meanwhile, was reforming his lines behind the high banks of
the Richmond road, and the approach of his reserves, plainly visible
from the Confederate position, seemed to presage a renewed attack. "I
waited some time," says Jackson, "to receive it, but he making no
forward movement, I determined, if prudent, to do so myself. The
artillery of the enemy was so judiciously posted as to make an
advance of our troops across the plain very hazardous; yet it was so
promising of good results, if successfully executed, as to induce me
to make preparations for the attempt. In order to guard against
disaster, the infantry was to be preceded by artillery, and the
movement postponed until late in the afternoon, so that if compelled
to retire, it would be under cover of the night."* (* Jackson's
Reports, O.R. volume 21 page 634.)

Jackson's decision was not a little influenced by Stuart, or rather
by the reports which Stuart, who had sent out staff officers to keep
the closest watch on the enemy's movements, had been able to furnish
of the demoralised condition of a great part of Franklin's force. The
cavalry general, as soon as he verified the truth of these reports in
person, galloped off to confer with Jackson on Prospect Hill, and a
message was at once sent to Lee, requesting permission for an
advance. A single cannon shot was to be the signal for a general
attack, which Stuart, striking the enemy in flank, was to initiate
with his two brigades and the lighter guns.

"Returning to our position," to quote Stuart's chief of staff, "we
awaited in anxious silence the desired signal; but minute after
minute passed by, and the dark veil of the winter night began to
envelop the valley, when Stuart, believing that the summons agreed
upon had been given, issued the order to advance. Off we went into
the gathering darkness, our sharpshooters driving their opponents
easily before them, and Pelham with his guns, pushing ahead at a
trot, giving them a few shots whenever the position seemed
favourable, and then again pressing forward. This lasted about twenty
minutes, when the fire of the enemy's infantry began to be more and
more destructive, and other fresh batteries opened upon us. Still all
remained silent upon our main line. Our situation had become, indeed,
a critical one, when a courier from General Jackson galloped up at
full speed, bringing the order for Stuart to retreat as quickly as he
could to his original position."

Under cover of the night this retrograde movement was effected
without loss; and the cavalry, as they marched back, saw the
camp-fires kindling on the skirts of the forest, and the infantry
digging intrenchments by the fitful glare.

The Second Corps had not come into action. Jackson had issued orders
that every gun, of whatever calibre or range, which was not disabled
should be brought to the front and open fire at sunset; and that as
soon as the enemy showed signs of wavering, the infantry should
charge with fixed bayonets, and sweep the invaders into the river.
Hood's division, which had been temporarily placed at his disposal,
was instructed to co-operate.* (* Advance and Retreat,
Lieutenant-General J.B. Hood page 50.) It appears, however, that it
had not been easy, in the short space of daylight still available, to
remedy the confusion into which the Confederates had been thrown by
Meade's attack and their own counterstroke. The divisions were to
some extent mixed up. Several regiments had been broken, and the
ammunition of both infantry and artillery needed replenishment.
Moreover, it was difficult in the extreme to bring the batteries
forward through the forest; and, when they eventually arrived, the
strength of the Federal position was at once revealed. Franklin's
line was defended by a hundred and sixteen field pieces, generally of
superior metal to those of the Confederates, and the guns on the
Stafford Heights, of which at least thirty bore upon Jackson's front,
were still in action. As the first Confederate battery advanced, this
great array of artillery, which had been for some time comparatively
quiet, reopened with vigour, and, to use Jackson's words, "so
completely swept our front as to satisfy me that the proposed
movement should be abandoned."

But he was not yet at the end of his resources. A strong position,
which cannot be turned, is not always impregnable. If the ground be
favourable, and few obstacles exist, a night attack with the bayonet,
especially if the enemy be exhausted or half-beaten, has many chances
of success; and during the evening Jackson made arrangements for such
a movement. "He asked me," says Dr. McGuire, "how many yards of
bandaging I had, and when I replied that I did not know the exact
number, but that I had enough for another fight, he seemed a little
worried at my lack of information and showed his annoyance. I
repeated rather shortly, "I have enough for another battle," meaning
to imply that this was all that it was necessary for him to know. I
then asked him: "Why do you want to know how much bandaging I have?"
He said: "I want a yard of bandaging to put on the arm of every
soldier in this night's attack, so that the men may know each other
from the enemy." I told him I had not enough cotton cloth for any
such purpose, and that he would have to take a piece of the shirt
tail of each soldier to supply the cloth, but, unfortunately, half of
them had no shirts! The expedient was never tried. General Lee
decided that the attack would be too hazardous."* (* Letter to the

That night both armies lay on their arms. Burnside, notwithstanding
that he spent several hours amongst the troops before Fredericksburg,
and found that both officers and men were opposed to further attack,
decided to renew the battle the next day. His arrangements became
known to Lee, an officer or orderly carrying dispatches having
strayed within the Confederate outposts,* (* From Manassas to
Appomattox page 316.) and the Southern generals looked forward, on
the morning of the 14th, to a fresh attack, a more crushing repulse,
and a general counterstroke.

Such cheerful anticipations, however, so often entertained by
generals holding a strong defensive position, are but seldom
realised, and Fredericksburg was no exception. The Confederates spent
the night in diligent preparation. Supplies of ammunition were
brought up and distributed, the existing defences were repaired,
abattis cut and laid, and fresh earthworks thrown up. Jackson, as
usual on the eve of battle, was still working while others rested.
Until near midnight he sat up writing and dispatching orders; then,
throwing himself, booted and spurred, on his camp bed, he slept for
two or three hours, when he again arose, lighted his candle, and
resumed his writing. Before four o'clock he sent to his medical
director to inquire as to the condition of General Gregg. Dr. McGuire
reported that his case was hopeless, and Jackson requested that he
would go over and see that he had everything he wished. Somewhat
against his will, for there were many wounded who required attention,
the medical officer rode off, but scarcely had he entered the
farmhouse where Gregg was lying, than he heard the tramp of horses,
and Jackson himself dismounted on the threshold. The brigadier, it
appears, had lately fallen under the ban of his displeasure; but from
the moment his condition was reported, Jackson forgot everything but
the splendid services he had rendered on so many hard-fought fields;
and in his anxiety that every memory should be effaced which might
embitter his last moments, he had followed Dr. McGuire to his bedside.

The interview was brief, and the dying soldier was the happier for
it; but the scene in that lonely Virginian homestead, where, in the
dark hours of the chill December morning, the life of a strong man,
of a gallant comrade, of an accomplished gentleman, and of an
unselfish patriot--for Gregg was all these--was slowly ebbing, made a
deeper impression on those who witnessed it than the accumulated
horrors of the battle-field. Sadly and silently the general and his
staff officer rode back through the forest, where the troops were
already stirring round the smouldering camp-fires. Their thoughts
were sombre. The Confederacy, with a relatively slender population,
could ill spare such men as Gregg. And yet Jackson, though yielding
to the depression of the moment, and deploring the awful sacrifices
which the defence of her liberties imposed upon the South, was in no
melting mood. Dr. McGuire, when they reached headquarters, put a
question as to the best means of coping with the overwhelming numbers
of the enemy. "Kill them, sir! kill every man!" was the reply of the
stern soldier who but just now, with words of tender sympathy and
Christian hope, had bade farewell to his dying comrade.

Dec. 14.

But on December 14, as on the morrow of Sharpsburg, the Confederates
were doomed to disappointment. "Darkness still prevailed," writes
Stuart's chief of the staff, "when we mounted our horses and again
hastened to Prospect Hill, the summit of which we reached just in
time to see the sun rising, and unveiling, as it dispersed the haze,
the long lines of the Federal army, which once more stood in full
line of battle between our own position and the river. I could not
withhold my admiration as I looked down upon the well-disciplined
ranks of our antagonists, astonished that these troops now offering
so bold a front should be the same whom not many hours since I had
seen in complete flight and disorder. The skirmishers of the two
armies were not much more than a hundred yards apart, concealed from
each other's view by the high grass in which they were lying, and
above which, from time to time, rose a small cloud of blue smoke,
telling that a shot had been fired. As the boom of artillery began to
sound from different parts of the line, and the attack might be
expected every minute, each hastened to his post."

But though the skirmishing at times grew hotter, and the fire of the
artillery more rapid, long intervals of silence succeeded, until it
at length became apparent to the Confederates that the enemy, though
well prepared to resist attack, was determined not to fight outside
his breastworks. Burnside, indeed, giving way to the remonstrances of
his subordinates, had abandoned all idea of further aggressive
action, and unless Lee should move forward, had determined to recross
the Potomac.

Dec. 15.

The next morning saw the armies in the same positions, and the
Federal wounded, many of whom had been struck down nearly forty-eight
hours before, still lying untended between the hostile lines. It was
not till now that Burnside admitted his defeat by sending a flag of
truce with a request that he might be allowed to bury his dead.*

(* "When the flag of truce," says Major Hotchkiss, "was received by
General Jackson, he asked me for paper and pencil, and began a letter
to be sent in reply; but after writing a few lines he handed the
paper back, and sent a personal message by Captain Smith."

Captain Smith writes: The general said to me, before I went out to
meet Colonel Sumner, representing the Federals: "If you are asked who
is in command of your right, do not tell them I am, and be guarded in
your remarks." It so happened that Colonel Sumner was the
brother-in-law of Colonel Long, an officer on General Lee's staff.
While we were together, another Federal officer named Junkin rode up.
He was the brother or cousin of Jackson's first wife, and I had known
him before the war. After some conversation, Junkin asked me to give
his regards to General Jackson, and to deliver a message from the
Reverend Dr. Junkin, the father of his first wife. I replied, "I will
do so with pleasure when I meet General Jackson." Junkin smiled and
said: "It is not worth while for you to try to deceive us. We know
that General Jackson is in front of us."))

The same night a fierce storm swept the valley of the Rappahannock,
and the Army of the Potomac repassed the bridges, evading, under
cover of the elements, the observation of the Confederate patrols.

The retreat was effected with a skill which did much credit to the
Federal staff. Within fourteen hours 100,000 troops, with the whole
of their guns, ambulances, and ammunition waggons, were conveyed
across the Rappahannock; but there remained on the south bank
sufficient evidence to show that the Army of the Potomac had not
escaped unscathed. When the morning broke the dead lay thick upon the
field; arms and accoutrements, the debris of defeat, were strewed in
profusion on every hand, and the ruined houses of Fredericksburg were
filled with wounded. Burnside lost in the battle 12,647 men.


Meade's Division 1,858
First Corps. Gibbon's Division 1,267
Doubleday's Division 214

Sixth Corps Birney's Division 950
Sickles' Division 100
Sixth Corps Newton's Division 63
Total 4,447


Brook's Division 197
Howe's Division 186
Total 383


Hancock's Division 2,032
Second Corps Howard's Division 914
French's Division 1,160

Burns' Division 27
Ninth Corps Sturgis' Division 1,007
Getty's Division 296

Third Corps Whipple's Division 129

Griffin's Division 926
Fifth Corps Sykes' Division 228
Humphrey's Division 1,019
Engineers and Reserve Artillery, etc. 79
Total 7,817
Grand Total (including 877 officers) 12,647
(589 prisoners)

The Confederates showed 5309 casualties out of less than 30,000
actually engaged.

Ransom's Division 535
First Corps McLaws' Division 858
Anderson's Division 159
Artillery 37
(1,224 on December 12.) Total 1,589

First Corps Pickett's Division 54
Hood's Division 251
Total 305

Light Division 2,120
Early's Division 932
D.H. Hill's Division 173
Taliaferro's Division 190
Total (including 500 captured) 3,415

No attempt was made by the Confederates to follow the enemy across
the Rappahannock. The upper fords were open; but the river was rising
fast, and the Army of the Potomac, closely concentrated and within a
few miles of Aquia Creek, was too large to be attacked, and too close
to its base to permit effective manoeuvres, which might induce it to
divide, against its line of communications. The exultation of the
Southern soldiers in their easy victory was dashed by disappointment.
Burnside's escape had demonstrated the fallacy of one of the
so-called rules of war. The great river which lay behind him during
the battle of Fredericksburg had proved his salvation instead of--as
it theoretically should--his ruin. Over the six bridges his troops
had more lines of retreat than is usually the case when roads only
are available; and these lines of retreat were secure, protected from
the Confederate cavalry by the river, and from the infantry and
artillery by the batteries on the Stafford Heights. Had the battle
been fought on the North Anna, thirty-six miles from Fredericksburg,
the result might have been very different. A direct counterstroke
would possibly have been no more practicable than on the
Rappahannock, for the superior numbers of the enemy, and his powerful
artillery, could not have been disregarded. Nor would a direct
pursuit have been a certain means of making success decisive; the
rear of a retreating army, as the Confederates had found to their
cost at Malvern Hill, is usually its strongest part. But a pursuit
directed against the flanks, striking the line of retreat, cutting
off the supply and ammunition trains, and blocking the roads, a
pursuit such as Jackson had organised when he drove Banks from the
Valley, if conducted with vigour, seldom fails in its effect. And who
would have conducted such an operation with greater skill and energy
than Stuart, at the head of his 9000 horsemen? Who would have
supported Stuart more expeditiously than the "foot-cavalry" of the
Second Army Corps?

Lee's position at Fredericksburg, strong as it might appear, was
exceedingly disadvantageous. A position which an army occupies with a
view to decisive battle should fulfil four requirements:--

1. It should not be too strong, or the enemy will not attack it.

2. It should give cover to the troops both from view and fire from
artillery, and have a good field of fire.

3. It should afford facilities for counterstroke.

4. It should afford facilities for pursuit.

Of these Lee's battle-field fulfilled but the first and second. It
would have been an admirable selection if the sole object of the
Confederates had been to gain time, or to prevent the enemy
establishing himself south of the Rappahannock; but to encompass the
destruction of the enemy's whole army it was as ill adapted as
Wellington's position at Torres Vedras, at Busaco, or at Fuentes
d'Onor. But while Wellington in taking up these positions had no
further end in view than holding the French in check, the situation
of the Confederacy was such that a decisive victory was eminently
desirable. Nothing was to be gained by gaining time. The South could
furnish Lee with no further reinforcements. Every able-bodied man was
in the service of his country; and it was perfectly certain that the
Western armies, although they had been generally successful during
the past year, would never be permitted by Mr. Davis to leave the
valley of the Mississippi.

The Army of Northern Virginia was not likely to be stronger or more
efficient. Equipped with the spoils of many victories, it was more on
a level with the enemy than had hitherto been the case. The ranks
were full. The men were inured to hardships and swift marches; their
health was proof against inclement weather, and they knew their work
on the field of battle. The artillery had recently been reorganised.
During the Peninsular campaign the batteries had been attached to the
infantry brigades, and the indifferent service they had often
rendered had been attributed to the difficulty of collecting the
scattered units, and in handling them in combination. Formed into
battalions of four or six batteries a large number of guns was now
attached to each of the divisions, and each army corps had a strong
reserve; so that the concentration of a heavy force of artillery on
any part of a position became a feasible operation. The cavalry, so
admirably commanded by Stuart, Hampton, and the younger Lees, was not
less hardy or efficient than the infantry, and the morale of the
soldiers of every arm, founded on confidence in themselves not less
than on confidence in their leaders, was never higher.

"After the truce had been agreed upon," says Captain Smith,
"litter-bearers to bring away the dead and wounded were selected from
the command of General Rodes. When they had fallen in, General Rodes
said to them: "Now, boys, those Yankees are going to ask you
questions, and you must not tell them anything. Be very careful about
this." At this juncture one of the men spoke up, and said, "General,
can't we tell them that we whipped them yesterday?" Rodes replied,
laughing: "Yes, yes! you can tell them that." Immediately another man
spoke up: "General, can't we tell them that we can whip them tomorrow
and the day after?" Rodes again laughed, and sent those incorrigible
jokers off with: "Yes, yes! go on, go on! Tell them what you please.""

The Army of the Potomac, on the other hand, was not likely to become
weaker or less formidable if time were allowed it to recuperate. It
had behind it enormous reserves. 60,000 men had been killed, wounded,
or captured since the battle of Kernstown, and yet the ranks were as
full as when McClellan first marched on Richmond. Many generals had
disappeared; but those who remained were learning their trade; and
the soldiers, although more familiar with defeat than victory, showed
little diminution of martial ardour. Nor had the strain of the war
sapped the resources of the North. Her trade, instead of dwindling,
had actually increased; and the gaps made in the population by the
Confederate bullets were more than made good by a constant influx of
immigrants from Europe.

It was not by partial triumphs, not by the slaughter of a few
brigades, by defence without counterstroke, by victories without
pursuit, that a Power of such strength and vitality could be
compelled to confess her impotence. Whether some overwhelming
disaster, a Jena or a Waterloo, followed by instant invasion, would
have subdued her stubborn spirit is problematical. Rome survived
Cannae, Scotland Flodden, and France Sedan. But in some such crowning
mercy lay the only hope of the Confederacy, and had the Army of the
Potomac, ill-commanded as it was, been drawn forward to the North
Anna, it might have been utterly destroyed. Half-hearted strategy,
which aims only at repulsing the enemy's attack, is not the path to
king-making victory; it is not by such feeble means that States
secure or protect their independence. To occupy a position where
Stuart's cavalry was powerless, where the qualities which made Lee's
infantry so formidable--the impetuosity of their attack, the
swiftness of their marches--had no field for display, and where the
enemy had free scope for the employment of his artillery, his
strongest arm, was but to postpone the evil day. It had been well for
the Confederacy if Stonewall Jackson, whose resolute strategy had but
one aim, and that aim the annihilation of the enemy, had been the
supreme director of her councils. To paraphrase Mahan: "The strategic
mistake (in occupying a position for which pursuit was impracticable)
neutralised the tactical advantage gained, thus confirming the
military maxim that a strategic mistake is more serious and
far-reaching in its effects than an error in tactics."

Lee, however, was fettered by the orders of the Cabinet; and Mr.
Davis and his advisers, more concerned with the importance of
retaining an area of country which still furnished supplies than of
annihilating the Army of the Potomac, and relying on European
intervention rather than on the valour of the Southern soldier, were
responsible for the occupation of the Fredericksburg position. In
extenuation of their mistake it may, however, be admitted that the
advantages of concentration on the North Anna were not such as would
impress themselves on the civilian mind, while the surrender of
territory would undoubtedly have embarrassed both the Government and
the supply department. Moreover, at the end of November, it might
have been urged that if Burnside were permitted to possess himself of
Fredericksburg, it was by no means certain that he would advance on
Richmond; establishing himself in winter quarters, he might wait
until the weather improved, controlling, in the meantime, the
resources and population of that portion of Virginia which lay within
his reach.

Nevertheless, as events went far to prove, Mr. Davis would have done
wisely had he accepted the advice of the soldiers on the spot. His
strategical glance was less comprehensive than that of Lee and
Jackson. In the first place, they knew that if Burnside proposed
going into winter quarters, he would not deliberately place the
Rappahannock between himself and his base, nor halt with the great
forest of Spotsylvania on his flank. In the second place, there could
be no question but that the Northern Government and the Northern
people would impel him forward. The tone of the press was
unmistakable; and the very reason that Burnside had been appointed to
command was because McClellan was so slow to move. In the third
place, both Lee and Jackson saw the need of decisive victory. With
them questions of strategic dispositions, offering chances of such
victory, were of more importance than questions of supply or internal
politics. They knew with what rapidity the Federal soldiers recovered
their morale; and they realised but too keenly the stern
determination which inspired the North. They had seen the hosts of
invasion retire in swift succession, stricken and exhausted, before
their victorious bayonets. Thousands of prisoners had been marched to
Richmond; thousands of wounded, abandoned on the battle-field, had
been paroled; guns, waggons and small arms, enough to equip a great
army, had been captured; and general after general had been reduced
to the ignominy that awaits a defeated leader. Fremont and Shields
had disappeared; Banks was no longer in the field; Porter was waiting
trial; McDowell had gone; Pope had gone, and McClellan; and yet the
Army of the Potomac still held its ground, the great fleets still
kept their stations, the capture of Richmond was still the objective
of the Union Government, and not for a single moment had Lincoln
wavered from his purpose.

It will not be asserted that either Lee or Jackson fathomed the
source of this unconquerable tenacity, They had played with effect on
the fears of Lincoln; they had recognised in him the motive power of
the Federal hosts; but they had not yet learned, for the Northern
people themselves had not yet learned it, that they were opposed by
an adversary whose resolution was as unyielding as their own, who
loved the Union even as they loved Virginia, and who ruled the nation
with the same tact and skill that they ruled their soldiers.

In these pages Mr. Lincoln has not been spared. He made mistakes, and
he himself would have been the last to claim infallibility. He had
entered the White House with a rich endowment of common-sense, a high
sense of duty, and an extraordinary knowledge of the American
character; but his ignorance of statesmanship directing arms was
great, and his military errors were numerous. Putting these aside,
his tenure of office during the dark days of "61 and "62 had been
marked by the very highest political sagacity; his courage and his
patriotism had sustained the nation in its distress; and in spite of
every obstacle he was gradually bringing into being a unity of
sympathy and of purpose, which in the early days of the war had
seemed an impossible ideal. Not the least politic of his measures was
the edict of emancipation, published after the battle of Sharpsburg.
It was not a measure without flaw. It contained paragraphs which
might fairly be interpreted, and were so interpreted by the
Confederates, as inciting the negroes to rise against their masters,
thus exposing to all the horrors of a servile insurrection, with its
accompaniments of murder and outrage, the farms and plantations where
the women and children of the South lived lonely and unprotected. But
if the edict served only to embitter the Southerners, to bind the
whole country together in a still closer league of resistance, and to
make peace except by conquest impossible, it was worth the price. The
party in the North which fought for the re-establishment of the Union
had carried on the war with but small success. The tale of reverses
had told at last upon recruiting. Men were unwilling to come forward;
and those who were bribed by large bounties to join the armies were
of a different character to the original volunteer. Enthusiasm in the
cause was fast diminishing when Lincoln, purely on his own
initiative, proclaimed emancipation, and, investing the war with the
dignity of a crusade, inspired the soldier with a new incentive, and
appealed to a feeling which had not yet been stirred. Many
Northerners had not thought it worth while to fight for the
re-establishment of the Union on the basis of the Constitution. If
slavery was to be permitted to continue they preferred separation;
and these men were farmers and agriculturists, the class which
furnished the best soldiers, men of American birth, for the most part
abolitionists, and ready to fight for the principle they had so much
at heart. It is true that the effect of the edict was not at once
apparent. It was not received everywhere with acclamation. The army
had small sympathy with the coloured race, and the political
opponents of the President accused him vehemently of unconstitutional
action. Their denunciations, however, missed the mark. The letter of
the Constitution, as Mr. Lincoln clearly saw, had ceased to be
regarded, at least by the great bulk of the people, with
superstitious reverence.

They had learned to think more of great principles than of political
expedients; and if the defence of their hereditary rights had welded
the South into a nation, the assertion of a still nobler principle,
the liberty of man, placed the North on a higher plane, enlisted the
sympathy of Europe, and completed the isolation of the Confederacy.

But although Lee and Jackson had not yet penetrated the political
genius of their great antagonist, they rated at its true value the
vigour displayed by his Administration, and they saw that something
more was wanting to wrest their freedom from the North than a mere
passive resistance to the invader's progress. Soon after the battle
of Fredericksburg, Lee went to Richmond and laid proposals for an
aggressive campaign before the President. "He was assured, however,"
says General Longstreet, "that the war was virtually over, and that
we need not harass our troops by marches and other hardships. Gold
had advanced in New York to two hundred premium, and we were told by
those in the Confederate capital that in thirty or forty days we
would be recognised (by the European Powers) and peace proclaimed.
General Lee did not share this belief."* (* Battles and Leaders.
volume 3 page 84.)

Dec. 18.

So Jackson, who had hoped to return to Winchester, was doomed to the
inaction of winter quarters on the Rappahannock, for with Burnside's
repulse operations practically ceased. The Confederate cavalry,
however, did not at once abandon hostilities. On December 18, Hampton
marched his brigade as far as the village of Occoquan, bringing off
150 prisoners and capturing a convoy.

Dec. 26.

And on December 26 Stuart closed his record for 1862 by leading 1800
troopers far to the Federal rear. After doing much damage in the
district about Occoquan and Dumfries, twenty miles from Burnside's
headquarters, he marched northward in the direction of Washington,
and penetrated as far as Burke's Station, fifteen miles from
Alexandria. Sending a telegraphic message to General Meigs,
Quartermaster-General at Washington, to the effect that the mules
furnished to Burnside's army were of such bad quality that he was
embarrassed in taking the waggons he had captured into the
Confederate lines, and requesting that a better class of animal might
be supplied in future, he returned by long marches through Warrenton
to Culpeper Court House, escaping pursuit, and bringing with him a
large amount of plunder and many prisoners. From the afternoon of
December 26 to nightfall on December 31 he rode one hundred and fifty
miles, losing 28 officers and men in skirmishes with detachments of
the Federal cavalry. He had contrived to throw a great part of the
troops sent to meet him into utter confusion by intercepting their
telegrams, and answering them himself in a manner that scattered his
pursuers and broke down their horses.

Near the end of January, Burnside made a futile attempt to march his
army round Lee's flank by way of Ely's and Germanna Fords. The
weather, however, was inclement; the roads were in a fearful
condition, and the troops experienced such difficulty in movement,
that the operation, which goes by the name of the Mud Campaign, was
soon abandoned.

1863. January 26.

On January 26, Burnside, in consequence of the strong representations
made by his lieutenants to the President, was superseded. General
Hooker, the dashing fighter of the Antietam, replaced him in command
of the Army of the Potomac, and the Federal troops went into winter
quarters about Falmouth, where, on the opposite shore of the
Rappahannock, within full view of the sentries, stood a row of
finger-posts, on which the Confederate soldiers had painted the
taunting legend, "This way to Richmond!"


"In war men are nothing; it is the man who is everything. The general
is the head, the whole of an army. It was not the Roman army that
conquered Gaul, but Caesar; it was not the Carthaginian army that
made Rome tremble in her gates, but Hannibal; it was not the
Macedonian army that reached the Indus, but Alexander; it was not the
French army that carried the war to the Weser and the Inn, but
Turenne; it was not the Prussian army which, for seven years,
defended Prussia against the three greatest Powers of Europe, but
Frederick the Great." So spoke Napoleon, reiterating a truth
confirmed by the experience of successive ages, that a wise direction
is of more avail than overwhelming numbers, sound strategy than the
most perfect armament; a powerful will, invigorating all who come
within its sphere, than the spasmodic efforts of ill-regulated valour.

Even a professional army of long standing and old traditions is what
its commander makes it; its character sooner or later becomes the
reflex of his own; from him the officers take their tone; his energy
or his inactivity, his firmness or vacillation, are rapidly
communicated even to the lower ranks; and so far-reaching is the
influence of the leader, that those who record his campaigns concern
themselves but little as a rule with the men who followed him. The
history of famous armies is the history of great generals, for no
army has ever achieved great things unless it has been well
commanded. If the general be second-rate the army also will be
second-rate. Mutual confidence is the basis of success in war, and
unless the troops have implicit trust in the resolution and resources
of their chief, hesitation and half-heartedness are sure to mark
their actions. They may fight with their accustomed courage; but the
eagerness for the conflict, the alacrity to support, the
determination to conquer, will not be there. The indefinable quality
which is expressed by the word morale will to some degree be
affected. The history of the Army of the Potomac is a case in point.

Between the soldiers of the North and South there was little
difference. Neither could claim a superiority of martial qualities.
The Confederates, indeed, at the beginning of the war possessed a
larger measure of technical skill; they were the better shots and the
finer riders. But they were neither braver nor more enduring, and
while they probably derived some advantage from the fact that they
were defending their homes, the Federals, defending the integrity of
their native land, were fighting in the noblest of all causes. But
Northerner and Southerner were of the same race, a race proud,
resolute, independent; both were inspired by the same sentiments of
self-respect; noblesse oblige--the noblesse of a free people--was the
motto of the one as of the other. It has been asserted that the
Federal armies were very largely composed of foreigners, whose
motives for enlisting were purely mercenary. At no period of the war,
however, did the proportion of native Americans sink below seventy
per cent.,* (* See Note at end of chapter.) and at the beginning of
1863 it was much greater. As a matter of fact, the Union army was
composed of thoroughly staunch soldiers.* (* "Throughout New
England," wrote the Special Correspondent of an English newspaper,
"you can scarcely enter a door without being aware that you are in a
house of mourning. Whatever may be said of Irish and German
mercenaries, I must bear witness that the best classes of Americans
have bravely come forth for their country. I know of scarcely a
family more than one member of which has not been or is not in the
ranks of the army. The maimed and crippled youths I meet on the
highroad certainly do not for the most part belong to the immigrant
rabble of which the Northern regiments are said to consist; and even
the present conscription is now in many splendid instances most
promptly and cheerfully complied with by the wealthy people who could
easily purchase exemption, but who prefer to set a good example."
Letter from Rhode Island, the Times, August 8, 1863.) Nor was the
alien element at this time a source of weakness. Ireland and Germany
supplied the greater number of those who have been called "Lincoln's
hirelings;" and, judging from the official records, the Irish
regiments at least were not a whit less trustworthy than those purely
American. Moreover, even if the admixture of foreigners had been
greater, the Army of the Potomac, for the reason that it was always
superior in numbers, contained in its ranks many more men bred in the
United States than the Army of Northern Virginia.* (* John Mitchell,
the Irish Nationalist, said in a letter to the Dublin Nation that
there were 40,000 Irishmen in the Southern armies. The Times,
February 7, 1863.) For the consistent ill-success of the Federals the
superior marksmanship and finer horsemanship of the Confederates
cannot, therefore, be accepted as sufficient explanation.

In defence the balance of endurance inclined neither to one side nor
the other. Both Southerner and Northerner displayed that stubborn
resolve to maintain their ground which is the peculiar attribute of
the Anglo-Saxon. To claim for any one race a pre-eminence of valour
is repugnant alike to good taste and to sound sense. Courage and
endurance are widely distributed over the world's surface, and
political institutions, the national conception of duty, the
efficiency of the corps of officers, and love of country, are the
foundation of vigour and staunchness in the field. Yet it is a fact
which can hardly be ignored, that from Crecy to Inkermann there have
been exceedingly few instances where an English army, large or small,
has been driven from a position. In the great struggle with France,
neither Napoleon nor his marshals, although the armies of every other
European nation had fled before them, could boast of having broken
the English infantry; and no soldiers have ever received a prouder
tribute than the admission of a generous enemy, "They never know when
they are beaten." In America, the characteristics of the parent race
were as prominent in the Civil War as they had been in the
Revolution. In 1861-65, the side that stood on the defensive, unless
hopelessly outnumbered, was almost invariably successful, just as it
had been in 1776-82. "My men," said Jackson, "sometimes fail to drive
the enemy from his position, but to hold one, never!" The Federal
generals might have made the same assertion with almost equal truth.
Porter had indeed been defeated at Gaines' Mill, but he could only
set 35,000 in line against 55,000; Banks had been overwhelmed at
Winchester, but 6,500 men could hardly have hoped to resist more than
twice their strength; and Shields' advanced guard at Port Republic
was much inferior to the force which Jackson brought against it; yet
these were the only offensive victories of the '62 campaign. But if
in defence the armies were well matched, it must be conceded that the
Northern attack was not pressed with the same concentrated vigour as
the Southern. McClellan at Sharpsburg had more than twice as many men
as Lee; Pope, on the first day of the Second Manassas, twice as many
as Jackson; yet on both occasions the smaller force was victorious.
But, in the first place, the Federal tactics in attack were always
feeble. Lincoln, in appointing Hooker to command the Army of the
Potomac, warned him "to put in all his men." His sharp eye had
detected the great fault which had characterised the operations of
his generals. Their assaults had been piecemeal, like those of the
Confederates at Malvern Hill, and they had been defeated in detail by
the inferior numbers. The Northern soldiers were strangers to those
general and combined attacks, pressed with unyielding resolution,
which had won Winchester, Gaines' Mill, and the Second Manassas, and
which had nearly won Kernstown. The Northern generals invariably kept
large masses in reserve, and these masses were never used. They had
not yet learned, as had Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet, that superior
numbers are of no avail unless they are brought into action,
impelling the attack forward by sheer weight, at the decisive point.
In the second place, none of the Federal leaders possessed the entire
confidence either of their generals or their troops. With all its
affection for McClellan, it may strongly be questioned whether his
army gave him credit for dash or resolution. Pope was defeated in his
first action at Cedar Run. Banks at Winchester, Fremont west of
Staunton, had both been out-manoeuvred. Burnside had against him his
feeble conduct at Sharpsburg. Hence the Federal soldiers fought most
of their offensive battles under a terrible disadvantage. They were
led by men who had known defeat, and who owed their defeat, in great
measure, to the same fault--neglect to employ their whole force in
combination. Brave and unyielding as they were, the troops went into
battle mistrustful of their leader's skill, and fearful, from the
very outset, that their efforts would be unsupported; and when men
begin to look over their shoulders for reinforcements, demoralisation
is not far off. It would be untrue to say that a defeated general can
never regain the confidence of his soldiers; but unless he has
previous successes to set off against his failure, to permit him to
retain his position is dangerous in the extreme. Such was the opinion
of Jackson, always solicitous of the morale of his command. "To his
mind nothing ever fully excused failure, and it was rarely that he
gave an officer the opportunity of failing twice. 'The service,' he
said, 'cannot afford to keep a man who does not succeed.' Nor was he
ever restrained from a change by the fear of making matters worse.
His motto was, get rid of the unsuccessful man at once, and trust to
Providence for finding a better."

Nor was the presence of discredited generals the only evil which went
to neutralise the valour of the Federal soldiers. The system of
command was as rotten in the Army of the Potomac as in the Armies of
Northern Virginia and of the Valley it was sound; and the system of
command plays a most important part in war. The natural initiative of
the American, the general fearlessness of responsibility, were as
conspicuous among the soldiers as in the nation at large. To those
familiar with the Official Records, where the doings of regiments and
even companies are preserved, it is perfectly apparent that, so soon
as the officers gained experience, the smaller units were as boldly
and efficiently handled as in the army of Germany under Moltke. But
while Lee and Jackson, by every means in their power, fostered the
capacity for independent action, following therein the example of
Napoleon,* (* In the opinion of the author, the charge of
centralisation preferred against Napoleon can only be applied to his
leading in his later campaigns. In his earlier operations he gave his
generals every latitude, and be maintamed that loose but effective
system of tactics, in which much was left to the individual, adopted
by the French army just previous to the wars of the Revolution.) of
Washington, of Nelson, and of Wellington, and aware that their
strength would thus be doubled, McClellan and Pope did their best to
stifle it; and in the higher ranks they succeeded. In the one case
the generals were taught to wait for orders, in the other to
anticipate them. In the one case, whether troops were supported or
not depended on the word of the commanding general; in the other,
every officer was taught that to sustain his colleagues was his first
duty. It thus resulted that while the Confederate leaders were served
by scores of zealous assistants, actively engaged in furthering the
aim of their superiors, McClellan, Pope, and Fremont, jealous of
power reduced their subordinates, with few exceptions, to the
position of machines, content to obey the letter of their orders,
oblivious of opportunity, and incapable of co-operation. Lee and
Jackson appear to have realised the requirements of battle far more
fully than their opponents. They knew that the scope of the commander
is limited; that once his troops are committed to close action it is
impossible for him to exert further control, for his orders can no
longer reach them; that he cannot keep the whole field under
observation, much less observe every fleeting opportunity. Yet it is
by utilising opportunities that the enemy's strength is sapped. For
these reasons the Confederate generals were exceedingly careful not
to chill the spirit of enterprise. Errors of judgment were never
considered in the light of crimes; while the officer who, in default
of orders, remained inactive, or who, when his orders were manifestly
inapplicable to a suddenly changed situation, and there was no time
to have them altered, dared not act for himself, was not long
retained in responsible command. In the Army of the Potomac, on the
other hand, centralisation was the rule. McClellan expected blind
obedience from his corps commanders, and nothing more, and Pope
brought Porter to trial for using his own judgment, on occasions when
Pope himself was absent, during the campaign of the Second Manassas.
Thus the Federal soldiers, through no fault of their own, laboured
for the first two years of the war under a disadvantage from which
the wisdom of Lee and Jackson had relieved the Confederates. The Army
of the Potomac was an inert mass, the Army of Northern Virginia a
living organism, endowed with irresistible vigour.

It is to be noted, too, as tending to prove the equal courage of
North and South, that on the Western theatre of war the Federals were
the more successful. And yet the Western armies of the Confederacy
were neither less brave, less hardy, nor less disciplined than those
in Virginia. They were led, however, by inferior men, while, on the
other hand, many of the Northern generals opposed to them possessed
unquestionable ability, and understood the value of a good system of

We may say, then, without detracting an iota from the high reputation
of the Confederate soldiers, that it was not the Army of Northern
Virginia that saved Richmond in 1862, but Lee; not the Army of the
Valley which won the Valley campaign, but Jackson.

It is related that a good priest, once a chaplain in Taylor's
Louisiana brigade, concluded his prayer at the unveiling of the
Jackson monument in New Orleans with these remarkable words: "When in
Thine inscrutable decree it was ordained that the Confederacy should
fail, it became necessary for Thee to remove Thy servant Stonewall
Jackson."* (* Bright Skies and Dark Shadows page 294. H. M. Field,
D.D.) It is unnecessary, perhaps, to lay much forcible emphasis on
the personal factor, but, at the same time, it is exceedingly
essential that it should never be overlooked.

The Government which, either in peace or war, commits the charge of
its armed forces to any other than the ablest and most experienced
soldier the country can produce is but laying the foundation of
national disaster. Had the importance of a careful selection for the
higher commands been understood in the North as it was understood in
the South, Lee and Jackson would have been opposed by foes more
formidable than Pope and Burnside, or Banks and Fremont. The Federal
Administration, confident in the courage and intelligence of their
great armies, considered that any ordinary general, trained to
command, and supported by an efficient staff, should be able to win
victories. Mr. Davis, on the other hand, himself a soldier, who, as
United States Secretary of War, had enjoyed peculiar opportunities of
estimating the character of the officers of the old army, made no
such mistake. He was not always, indeed, either wise or consistent;
but, with few exceptions, his appointments were the best that could
be made, and he was ready to accept the advice, as regarded
selections for command, of his most experienced generals.

But however far-reaching may be the influence of a great leader, in
estimating his capacity the temper of the weapon that he wielded can
hardly be overlooked. In the first place, that temper, to a greater
or less degree, must have been of his own forging, it is part of his
fame. "No man," says Napier, "can be justly called a great captain
who does not know how to organise and form the character of an army,
as well as to lead it when formed." In the second place, to do much
with feeble means is greater than to do more with large resources.
Difficulties are inherent in all military operations, and not the
least may be the constitution of the army. Nor would the story of
Stonewall Jackson be more than half told without large reference to
those tried soldiers, subalterns and private soldiers as they were,
whom he looked upon as his comrades, whose patriotism and endurance
he extolled so highly, and whose devotion to himself, next to the
approval of his own conscience, was the reward that most he valued.

He is blind indeed who fails to recognise the unselfish patriotism
displayed by the citizen-soldiers of America, the stern resolution
with which the war was waged; the tenacity of the Northerner,
ill-commanded and constantly defeated, fighting in a most difficult
country and foiled on every line of invasion; the tenacity of the
Southerner, confronting enormous odds, ill-fed, ill-armed, and
ill-provided, knowing that if wounded his sufferings would be
great--for drugs had been declared contraband of war, the hospitals
contained no anaesthetics to relieve the pain of amputation, and the
surgical instruments, which were only replaced when others were
captured, were worn out with constant usage; knowing too that his
women-folk and children were in want, and yet never yielding to
despair nor abandoning hope of ultimate victory. Neither Federal nor
Confederate deemed his life the most precious of his earthly
possessions. Neither New Englander nor Virginian ever for one moment
dreamt of surrendering, no matter what the struggle might cost, a
single acre of the territory, a single item of the civil rights,
which had been handed down to him. "I do not profess," said Jackson,
"any romantic sentiments as to the vanity of life. Certainly no man
has more that should make life dear to him than I have, in the
affection of my home; but I do not desire to survive the independence
of my country." And Jackson's attitude was that of his
fellow-countrymen. The words of Naboth, "Jehovah forbid that I should
give to thee the inheritance of my forefathers," were graven on the
heart of both North and South; and the unknown and forgotten heroes
who fought in the ranks of either army, and who fought for a
principle, not on compulsion or for glory, are worthy of the highest
honours that history can bestow.

Nor can a soldier withhold his tribute of praise to the capacity for
making war which distinguished the American citizen. The intelligence
of the rank and file played an important role in every phase of a
campaign. As skirmishers,--and modern battles, to a very great
extent, are fought out by lines of skirmishers--their work was
admirable; and when the officers were struck down, or when command,
by reason of the din and excitement, became impossible, the
self-dependence of the individual asserted itself with the best
effect.* (* The historical student may profitably compare with the
American soldier the Armies of Revolutionary France, in which
education and intelligence were also conspicuous.) The same quality
which the German training had sought to foster, and which, according
to Moltke,* (* Official Account of the Franco-German War volume 2
page 168.) had much to do with the victories of 1870, was born in
both Northerner and Southerner. On outpost and on patrol, in seeking
information and in counteracting the ruses of the enemy, the keen
intelligence of the educated volunteer was of the utmost value.
History has hitherto overlooked the achievements of the scouts, whose
names so seldom occur in the Official Records, but whose daring was
unsurpassed, and whose services were of vast importance. In the Army
of Northern Virginia every commanding general had his own party of
scouts, whose business it was to penetrate the enemy's lines, to see
everything and to hear everything, to visit the base of operations,
to inspect the line of communications, and to note the condition and
the temper of the hostile troops. Attracted by a pure love of
adventure, these private soldiers did exactly the same work as did
the English Intelligence officers in the Peninsula, and did it with
the same thoroughness and acuteness. Wellington, deploring the
capture of Captain Colquhoun Grant, declared that the gallant
Highlander was worth as much to the army as a brigade of cavalry;
Jackson had scouts who were more useful to him than many of his
brigadiers. Again, in constructing hasty intrenchments, the soldiers
needed neither assistance nor impulsion. The rough cover thrown up by
the men when circumstances demanded it, on their own volition, was
always adapted to the ground, and generally fulfilled the main
principles of fortification. For bridge-building, for road-making,
for the destruction, the repair, and even the making, of railroads,
skilled labour was always forthcoming from the ranks; and the
soldiers stamped the impress of their individuality on the tactics of
the infantry. Modern formations, to a very large extent, had their
origin on American battle-fields. The men realised very quickly the
advantages of shelter; the advance by rushes from one cover to
another, and the gradually working up, by this method, of the
firing-line to effective range--the method which all experience shows
to be the true one--became the general rule.

That the troops had faults, however, due in great part to the fact
that their intelligence was not thoroughly trained, and to the
inexperience of their officers, it is impossible to deny.

"I agree with you," wrote Lee in 1868, "in believing that our army
would be invincible if it could be properly organised and officered.
There were never such men in an army before. They will go anywhere
and do anything if properly led. But there is the difficulty--proper
commanders. Where can they be obtained? But they are
improving--constantly improving. Rome was not built in a day, nor can
we expect miracles in our favour."* (* Lee to Hood, May 21, 1863;
Advance and Retreat page 58.) Yet, taking them all in all, the
American rank and file of 1863, with their native characteristics,
supplemented by a great knowledge of war, were in advance of any
soldiers of their time.

In the actual composition of the Confederate forces no marked change
had taken place since the beginning of the war. But the character of
the army, in many essential respects, had become sensibly modified.
The men encamped on the Rappahannock were no longer the raw recruits
who had blundered into victory at the First Manassas; nor were they
the unmanageable divisions of the Peninsula. They were still, for the
most part, volunteers, for conscripts in the Army of Northern
Virginia were not numerous, but they were volunteers of a very
different type from those who had fought at Kernstown or at Gaines'
Mill. Despite their protracted absence from their homes, the wealthy
and well-born privates still shouldered the musket. Though many had
been promoted to commissions, the majority were content to set an
example of self-sacrifice and sterling patriotism, and the regiments
were thus still leavened with a large admixture of educated and
intelligent men. It is a significant fact that during those months of
1863 which were spent in winter quarters Latin, Greek, mathematical,
and even Hebrew classes were instituted by the soldiers. But all
trace of social distinction had long since vanished. Between the rich
planter and the small farmer or mechanic there was no difference
either in aspect or habiliments. Tanned by the hot Virginia sun,
thin-visaged and bright-eyed, gaunt of frame and spare of flesh, they
were neither more nor less than the rank and file of the Confederate
army; the product of discipline and hard service, moulded after the
same pattern, with the same hopes and fears, the same needs, the same
sympathies. They looked at life from a common standpoint, and that
standpoint was not always elevated. Human nature claimed its rights.
When his hunger was satisfied and, to use his own expression, he was
full of hog and hominy, the Confederate soldier found time to discuss
the operations in which he was engaged. Pipe in mouth, he could pass
in review the strategy and tactics of both armies, the capacity of
his generals, and the bearing of his enemies, and on each one of
these questions, for he was the shrewdest of observers, his comments
were always to the point. He had studied his profession in a
practical school. The more delicate moves of the great game were
topics of absorbing interest. He cast a comprehensive glance over the
whole theatre; he would puzzle out the reasons for forced marches and
sudden changes of direction; his curiosity was great, but
intelligent, and the groups round the camp-fires often forecast with
surprising accuracy the manoeuvres that the generals were planning.
But far more often the subjects of conversation were of a more
immediate and personal character. The capacity of the company cook,
the quality of the last consignment of boots, the merits of different
bivouacs, the prospect of the supply train coming up to time, the
temper of the captain and subaltern--such were the topics which the
Confederate privates spent their leisure in discussing. They had long
since discovered that war is never romantic and seldom exciting, but
a monotonous round of tiresome duties, enlivened at rare intervals by
dangerous episodes. They had become familiar with its constant
accompaniment of privations--bad weather, wet bivouacs, and wretched
roads, wood that would not kindle, and rations that did not satisfy.
They had learned that a soldier's worst enemy may be his native soil,
in the form of dust or mud; that it is possible to march for months
without firing a shot or seeing a foe; that a battle is an interlude
which breaks in at rare intervals on the long round of digging,
marching, bridge-building, and road-making; and that the time of the
fiercest fire-eater is generally occupied in escorting mule-trains,
in mounting guard, in dragging waggons through the mud, and in
loading or unloading stores. Volunteering for perilous and onerous
duties, for which hundreds had eagerly offered themselves in the
early days, ere the glamour of the soldier's life had vanished, had
ceased to be popular. The men were now content to wait for orders;
and as discipline crystallised into habit, they became resigned to
the fact that they were no longer volunteers, masters of their own
actions, but the paid servants of the State, compelled to obey and
powerless to protest.

To all outward appearance, then, in the spring of 1863 the Army of
Northern Virginia bore an exceedingly close resemblance to an army of
professional soldiers. It is true that military etiquette was not
insisted on; that more license, both in quarters and on the march,
was permitted than would be the case in a regular army; that officers
were not treated with the same respect; and that tact, rather than
the strict enforcement of the regulations, was the key-note of
command. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the Confederate soldiers
were exceedingly well-conducted. The good elements in the ranks were
too strong for those who were inclined to resist authority, and the
amount of misbehaviour was wonderfully small. There was little
neglect of duty. Whatever the intelligence of the men told them was
necessary for success, for safety, or for efficiency, was done
without reluctance. The outposts were seldom caught napping. Digging
and tree-felling--for the men had learned the value of making
fortifications and good roads--were taken as a matter of course. Nor
was the Southern soldier a grumbler. He accepted half-rations and
muddy camping-grounds without remonstrance; if his boots wore out he
made shift to march without them; and when his uniform fell to pieces
he waited for the next victory to supply himself with a new outfit.
He was enough of a philosopher to know that it is better to meet
misery with a smile than with a scowl. Mark Tapley had many
prototypes in the Confederate ranks, and the men were never more
facetious than when things were at their worst. "The very intensity
of their sufferings became a source of merriment. Instead of growling
and deserting, they laughed at their own bare feet, ragged clothes,
and pinched faces; and weak, hungry, cold, wet and dirty, with no
hope of reward or rest, they marched cheerfully to meet the warmly
clad and well-fed hosts of the enemy."* (* Soldier Life in the Army
of Northern Virginia.) Indomitable indeed were the hearts that beat
beneath the grey jackets, and a spirit rising superior to all

That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine,

was a marked characteristic of the Confederate soldier. Nor was it
only in camp or on the march that the temper of the troops betrayed
itself in reckless gaiety.* (* General Longstreet relates an amusing
story: "One of the soldiers, during the investment of Suffolk (April
1863), carefully constructed and equipped a full-sized man, dressed
in a new suit of improved "butternut" clothing; and christening him
Julius Caesar took him to a signal platform which overlooked the
works, adjusted him to a graceful position, and made him secure to
the framework by strong cords. A little after sunrise "Julius Caesar"
was discovered by some of the Federal battery officers, who prepared
for the target so inviting to skilful practice. The new soldier sat
under the hot fire with irritating indifference until the
Confederates, unable to restrain their hilarity, exposed the joke by
calling for "Three cheers for Julius Caesar!" The other side quickly
recognised the situation, and good-naturedly added to ours their
cheers for the old hero." From Manassas to Apomattox.) The stress of
battle might thin their ranks, but it was powerless to check their
laughter. The dry humour of the American found a fine field in the
incidents of a fierce engagement. Nothing escaped without remark: the
excitement of a general, the accelerated movements of the
non-combatants, the vagaries of the army mule, the bad practice of
the artillery--all afforded entertainment. And when the fight became
hotter and the Federals pressed resolutely to the attack, the flow of
badinage took a grim and peculiar turn. It has already been related
that the Confederate armies depended, to a large degree, for their
clothing and equipments on what they captured. So abundant was this
source of supply, that the soldier had come to look upon his enemy as
a movable magazine of creature comforts; and if he marched cheerfully
to battle, it was not so much because he loved fighting, but that he
hoped to renew his wardrobe. A victory was much, but the spoils of
victory were more. No sooner, then, did the Federals arrive within
close range, than the wild yells of the Southern infantry became
mingled with fierce laughter and derisive shouts. "Take off them
boots, Yank!" "Come out of them clothes; we're gwine to have them!"
"Come on, blue-bellies, we want them blankets!" "Bring them rations
along! You've got to leave them!"--such were the cries, like the
howls of half-famished wolves, that were heard along Jackson's lines
at Fredericksburg.* (* "During the truce on the second day of
Fredericksburg," says Captain Smith, "a tall, fine-looking Alabama
soldier, who was one of the litter-bearers, picked up a new Enfield
rifle on the neutral ground, examined it, tested the sights,
shouldered it, and was walking back to the Confederate lines, when a
young Federal officer, very handsomely dressed and mounted,
peremptorily ordered him to throw it down, telling him he had no
right to take it. The soldier, with the rifle on his shoulder, walked
very deliberately round the officer, scanning him from head to foot,
and then started again towards our lines. On this the Federal
Lieutenant, drawing his little sword, galloped after him, and ordered
him with an oath to throw down the rifle. The soldier halted, then
walked round the officer once again, very slowly, looking him up and
down, and at last said, pointing to his fine boots: "I shall shoot
you tomorrow, and get them boots;" then strode away to his command.
The Lieutenant made no attempt to follow.") And they were not raised
in mockery. The battle-field was the soldier's harvest, and as the
sheaves of writhing forms, under the muzzles of their deadly rifles,
increased in length and depth, the men listened with straining ears
for the word to charge. The counterstroke was their opportunity. The
rush with the bayonet was never so speedy but that deft fingers found
time to rifle the haversacks of the fallen, and such was the
eagerness for booty that it was with the greatest difficulty that the
troops were dragged off from the pursuit. It is said that at
Fredericksburg, some North Carolina regiments, which had repulsed and
followed up a Federal brigade, were hardly to be restrained from
dashing into the midst of the enemy's reserves, and when at length
they were turned back their complaints were bitter. The order to halt
and retire seemed to them nothing less than rank injustice.
Half-crying with disappointment, they accused their generals of
favouritism! "They don't want the North Car'linians to git anything,"
they whined. "They wouldn't hev' stopped Hood's Texicans--they'd hev'
let THEM go on!"

But if they relieved their own pressing wants at the expense of their
enemies, if they stripped the dead, and exchanged boots and clothing
with their prisoners, seldom getting the worst of the bargain, no
armies--to their lasting honour be it spoken, for no armies were so
destitute--were ever less formidable to peaceful citizens, within the
border or beyond it, than those of the Confederacy. It was
exceedingly seldom that wanton damage was laid to the soldier's
charge. The rights of non-combatants were religiously respected, and
the farmers of Pennsylvania were treated with the same courtesy and
consideration as the planters of Virginia. A village was none the
worse for the vicinity of a Confederate bivouac, and neither man nor
woman had reason to dread the half-starved tatterdemalions who
followed Lee and Jackson. As the grey columns, in the march through
Maryland, swung through the streets of those towns where the Unionist
sentiment was strong, the women, standing in the porches, waved the
Stars and Stripes defiantly in their faces. But the only retort of
"the dust brown ranks" was a volley of jests, not always unmixed with
impudence. The personal attributes of their fair enemies did not
escape observation. The damsel whose locks were of conspicuous hue
was addressed as "bricktop" until she screamed with rage, and
threatened to fire into the ranks; while the maiden of sour visage
and uncertain years was saluted as "Ole Miss Vinegar" by a whole
division of infantry. But this was the limit of the soldier's
resentment. At the same time, when in the midst of plenty he was not
impeccable. For highway robbery and housebreaking he had no
inclination, but he was by no means above petty larceny. Pigs and
poultry, fruit, corn, vegetables and fence-rails, he looked upon as
his lawful perquisites.

He was the most cunning of foragers, and neither stringent orders nor
armed guards availed to protect a field of maize or a patch of
potatoes; the traditional negro was not more skilful in looting a
fowl-house;* (* Despite Lee's proclamations against indiscriminate
foraging, "the hens," he said, "had to roost mighty high when the
Texans were about.") he had an unerring scent for whisky or
"apple-jack;" and the address he displayed in compassing the
destruction of the unsuspecting porker was only equalled, when he was
caught flagrante delicto, by the ingenuity of his excuses. According
to the Confederate private, the most inoffensive animals, in the
districts through which the armies marched, developed a strange
pugnacity, and if bullet and bayonet were used against them, it was
solely in self-defence.

But such venial faults, common to every army, and almost justified by
the deficiencies of the Southern commissariat, were more than atoned
for when the enemy was met. Of the prowess of Lee's veterans
sufficient has been said. Their deeds speak for themselves. But it
was not the battle-field alone that bore witness to their fortitude.
German soldiers have told us that in the war of 1870, when their
armies, marching on Paris, found, to their astonishment, the great
city strongly garrisoned, and hosts gathering in every quarter for
its relief, a singular apathy took possession of the troops. The
explanation offered by a great military writer is that "after a
certain period even the victor becomes tired of war;" and "the more
civilised," he adds, "a people is, the more quickly will this
weakness become apparent."* (* The Conduct of War. Von der Goltz.)
Whether this explanation be adequate is not easy to decide. The fact
remains, however, that the Confederate volunteer was able to overcome
that longing for home which chilled the enthusiasm of the German
conscript. And this is the more remarkable, inasmuch as his career
was not one of unchequered victory. In the spring of 1863, the Army
of the Potomac, more numerous than ever, was still before him, firmly
established on Virginian soil; hope of foreign intervention, despite
the assurances of the politicians, was gradually fading, and it was
but too evident that the war was far from over. Yet at no time during
their two years of service had the soldiers shown the slightest sign
of that discouragement which seized the Germans after two months. And
who shall dare to say that the Southerner was less highly civilised
than the Prussian or the Bavarian? Political liberty, freedom of
speech and action, are the real elements of civilisation, and not
merely education. But let the difference in the constitution of the
two armies be borne in mind. The Confederates, with few exceptions,
were volunteers, who had become soldiers of their own choice, who had
assumed arms deliberately and without compulsion, and who by their
own votes were responsible that war had been declared. The Germans
were conscripts, a dumb, powerless, irresponsible multitude,
animated, no doubt, by hereditary hatred of the enemy, but without
that sense of moral obligation which exists in the volunteer. We may
be permitted, then, to believe that this sense of moral obligation
was one reason why the spirit of the Southerners rose superior to
human weakness, and that the old adage, which declares that one
volunteer is better than three pressed men, is not yet out of date.
Nor is it an unfair inference that the armies of the Confederacy,
allied by the "crimson thread of kinship" to those of Wellington, of
Raglan, and of Clyde, owed much of their enduring fortitude to "the
rock whence they were hewn."

And yet, with all their admirable qualities, the Southern soldiers
had not yet got rid of their original defects. Temperate, obedient,
and well-conducted, small as was the percentage of bad characters and
habitual misdoers, their discipline was still capable of improvement.
The assertion, at first sight, seems a contradiction in terms. How
could troops, it may be asked, who so seldom infringed the
regulations be other than well-disciplined? For the simple reason
that discipline in quarters is an absolutely different quality from
discipline in battle. No large body of intelligent men, assembled in
a just cause and of good character, is likely to break out into
excesses, or, if obedience is manifestly necessary, to rebel against
authority. Subordination to the law is the distinguishing mark of all
civilised society. But such subordination, however praiseworthy, is
not the discipline of the soldier, though it is often confounded with
it. A regiment of volunteers, billeted in some country town, would
probably show a smaller list of misdemeanours than a regiment of
regulars. Yet the latter might be exceedingly well-disciplined, and
the former have no real discipline whatever. Self-respect--for that
is the discipline of the volunteer--is not battle discipline, the
discipline of the cloth, of habit, of tradition, of constant
association and of mutual confidence. Self-respect, excellent in
itself, and by no means unknown amongst regular soldiers, does not
carry with it a mechanical obedience to command, nor does it merge
the individual in the mass, and give the tremendous power of unity to
the efforts of large numbers.

It will not be pretended that the discipline of regular troops always
rises superior to privation and defeat. It is a notorious fact that
the number of deserters from Wellington's army in Spain and Portugal,
men who wilfully absented themselves from the colours and wandered
over the country, was by no means inconsiderable; while the behaviour
of the French regulars in 1870, and even of the Germans, when they
rushed back in panic through the village of Gravelotte, deaf to the
threats and entreaties of their aged sovereign, was hardly in
accordance with military tradition. Nevertheless, it is not difficult
to show that the Southerners fell somewhat short of the highest
standard. They were certainly not incapable of keeping their ranks
under a hot fire, or of holding their ground to the last extremity.
Pickett's charge at Gettysburg is one of the most splendid examples
of disciplined valour in the annals of war, and the endurance of
Lee's army at Sharpsburg has seldom been surpassed. Nor was the
disorder into which the attacking lines were sooner or later thrown a
proof of inferior training. Even in the days of flint-lock muskets,
the admixture of not only companies and battalions, but even of
brigades and divisions, was a constant feature of fierce assaults
over broken ground. If, under such conditions, the troops still press
forward, and if, when success has been achieved, order is rapidly
restored, then discipline is good; and in neither respect did the
Confederates fail. But to be proof against disorder is not everything
in battle. It is not sufficient that the men should be capable of
fighting fiercely; to reap the full benefit of their weapons and
their training they must be obedient to command. The rifle is a far
less formidable weapon when every man uses it at his own discretion
than when the fire of a large body of troops is directed by a single
will. Precision of movement, too, is necessary for the quick
concentration of superior forces at the decisive point, for rapid
support, and for effective combination. But neither was the fire of
the Confederate infantry under the complete control of their
officers, nor were their movements always characterised by order and
regularity. It was seldom that the men could be induced to refrain
from answering shot with shot; there was an extraordinary waste of
ammunition, there was much unnecessary noise, and the regiments were
very apt to get out of hand. It is needless to bring forward specific
proof; the admissions of superior officers are quite sufficient.
General D.H. Hill, in an interesting description of the Southern
soldier, speaks very frankly of his shortcomings. "Self-reliant
always, obedient when he chose to be, impatient of drill and
discipline. He was unsurpassed as a scout or on the skirmish line. Of
the shoulder-to-shoulder courage, bred of drill and discipline, he
knew nothing and cared less. Hence, on the battle-field, he was more
of a free lance than a machine. Who ever saw a Confederate line
advancing that was not crooked as a ram's horn? Each ragged rebel
yelling on his own hook and aligning on himself! But there is as much
need of the machine-made soldier as of the self-reliant soldier, and
the concentrated blow is always the most effective blow. The erratic
effort of the Confederate, heroic though it was, yet failed to
achieve the maximum result just because it was erratic. Moreover, two
serious evils attended that excessive egotism and individuality which
came to the Confederate through his training, association, and
habits. He knew when a movement was false and a position untenable,
and he was too little of a machine to give in such cases the
wholehearted service which might have redeemed the blunder. The other
evil was an ever-growing one. His disregard of discipline and
independence of character made him often a straggler, and by
straggling the fruit of many a victory was lost."* (* Southern
Historical Society Papers volume 13 page 261.)

General Lee was not less outspoken. A circular issued to his troops
during the last months of the war is virtually a criticism on their
conduct. "Many opportunities," he wrote, "have been lost and hundreds
of valuable lives uselessly sacrificed for want of a strict
observance of discipline. Its object is to enable an army to bring
promptly into action the largest possible number of men in good
order, and under the control of their officers. Its effects are
visible in all military history, which records the triumph of
discipline and courage far more frequently than that of numbers and
resources. The importance and utility of thorough discipline should
be impressed on officers and men on all occasions by illustrations
taken from the experience of the instructor or from other sources of
information. They should be made to understand that discipline
contributes no less to their safety than to their efficiency.
Disastrous surprises and those sudden panics which lead to defeat and
the greatest loss of life are of rare occurrence among disciplined
troops. It is well known that the greatest number of casualties occur
when men become scattered, and especially when they retreat in
confusion, as the fire of the enemy is then more deliberate and
fatal. The experience of every officer shows that those troops suffer
least who attack most vigorously, and that a few men, retaining their
organisation and acting in concert, accomplish far more with smaller
loss than a larger number scattered and disorganised.

"The appearance of a steady, unbroken line is more formidable to the
enemy, and renders his aim less accurate and his fire less effective.
Orders can be readily transmitted, advantage can be promptly taken of
every opportunity, and all efforts being directed to a common end,
the combat will be briefer and success more certain.

"Let officers and men be made to feel that they will most effectually
secure their safety by remaining steadily at their posts, preserving
order, and fighting with coolness and vigour...Impress upon the
officers that discipline cannot be attained without constant
watchfulness on their part. They must attend to the smallest
particulars of detail. Men must be habituated to obey or they cannot
be controlled in battle, and the neglect of the least important order
impairs the proper influence of the officer."* (* Memoirs of General
Robert E. Lee. By A. L. Long, Military Secretary and
Brigadier-General pages 685-6.)

That such a circular was considered necessary after the troops had
been nearly four years under arms establishes beyond all question
that the discipline of the Confederate army was not that of the
regular troops with whom General Lee had served under the Stars and
Stripes; but it is not to be understood that he attributed the
deficiencies of his soldiers to any spirit of resistance on their
part to the demands of subordination. Elsewhere he says: "The
greatest difficulty I find is in causing orders and regulations to be
obeyed. This arises not from a spirit of disobedience, but from
ignorance."* (* Memoirs, etc. page 619. Letter dated March 21, 1863.)
And here, with his usual perspicacity, he goes straight to the root
of the evil. When the men in the ranks understand all that discipline
involves, safety, health, efficiency, victory, it is easily
maintained; and it is because experience and tradition have taught
them this that veteran armies are so amenable to control. "Soldiers,"
says Sir Charles Napier, "must obey in all things. They may and do
laugh at foolish orders, but they nevertheless obey, not because they
are blindly obedient, but because they know that to disobey is to
break the backbone of their profession."

Such knowledge, however, is long in coming, even to the regular, and
it may be questioned whether it ever really came home to the

In fact, the Southern soldier, ignorant, at the outset, of what may
be accomplished by discipline, never quite got rid of the belief that
the enthusiasm of the individual, his goodwill and his native
courage, was a more than sufficient substitute. "The spirit which
animates our soldiers," wrote Lee, "and the natural courage with
which they are so liberally endowed, have led to a reliance upon
those good qualities, to the neglect of measures which would increase
their efficiency and contribute to their safety."* (* Memoirs etc.
page 684. By A. L. Long.) Yet the soldier was hardly to blame.
Neither he nor his regimental officers had any previous knowledge of
war when they were suddenly launched against the enemy, and there was
no time to instil into them the habits of discipline. There was no
regular army to set them an example; no historic force whose
traditions they would unconsciously have adopted; the exigencies of
the service forbade the retention of the men in camps of instruction,
and trained instructors could not be spared from more important

Such ignorance, however, as that which prevailed in the Southern
ranks is not always excusable. It would be well if those who pose as
the friends of the private soldier, as his protectors from injustice,
realised the mischief they may do by injudicious sympathy. The
process of being broken to discipline is undoubtedly gaffing to the
instincts of free men, and it is beyond question that among a
multitude of superiors, some will be found who are neither just nor
considerate. Instances of hardship must inevitably occur. But men and
officers--for discipline presses as hardly on the officers as on the
men--must obey, no matter at what cost to their feelings, for
obedience to orders, instant and unhesitating, is not only the
life-blood of armies but the security of States; and the doctrine
that under any conditions whatever deliberate disobedience can be
justified is treason to the commonwealth. It is to be remembered that

end of the soldier's existence is not merely to conduct himself as a
respectable citizen and earn his wages, but to face peril and
privations, not of his own free will, but at the bidding of others;
and, in circumstances where his natural instincts assert themselves
most strongly, to make a complete surrender of mind and body. If he
has been in the habit of weighing the justice or the wisdom of orders
before obeying them, if he has been taught that disobedience may be a
pardonable crime, he will probably question the justice of the order
that apparently sends him to certain death; if he once begins to
think; if he once contemplates the possibility of disobedience; if he
permits a single idea to enter his head beyond the necessity of
instant compliance, it is unlikely that he will rise superior to the
promptings of his weaker nature. "MEN MUST BE HABITUATED TO OBEY OR
THEY CANNOT BE CONTROLLED IN BATTLE;" and the slightest interference
with the habit of subordination is fraught, therefore, with the very
greatest danger to the efficiency of an army.

It has been asserted, and it would appear that the idea is
widespread, that patriotism and intelligence are of vastly more
importance than the habit of obedience, and it was certainly a very
general opinion in America before the war. This idea should have been
effectually dissipated, at all events in the North, by the battle of
Bull Run. Nevertheless, throughout the conflict a predilection
existed in favour of what was called the "thinking bayonet;" and the
very term "machine-made soldier," employed by General D.H. Hill,
proves that the strict discipline of regular armies was not held in
high esteem.

It is certainly true that the "thinking bayonet" is by no means to be
decried. A man can no more be a good soldier without intelligence and
aptitude for his profession than he can be a successful poacher or a
skilful jockey. But it is possible, in considering the value of an
armed force, to rate too highly the natural qualities of the
individual in the ranks. In certain circumstances, especially in
irregular warfare, where each man fights for his own hand, they
doubtless play a conspicuous part. A thousand skilled riflemen,
familiar with the "moving accidents by flood and field," even if they
have no regular training and are incapable of precise manoeuvres, may
prove more than a match for the same number of professional soldiers.
But when large numbers are in question, when the concentration of
superior force at a single point, and the close co-operation of the
three arms, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, decide the issue, then
the force that can manoeuvre, that moves like a machine at the
mandate of a single will, has a marked advantage; and the power of
manoeuvring and of combination is conferred by discipline alone. "Two
Mamelukes," said Napoleon, "can defeat three French horsemen, because
they are better armed, better mounted, and more skilful. A hundred
French horse have nothing to fear from a hundred Mamelukes, three
hundred would defeat a similar number, and a thousand French would
defeat fifteen hundred Mamelukes. So great is the influence of
tactics, order, and the power of manoeuvring."

It may be said, moreover, that whatever may have been the case in
past times, the training of the regular soldier to-day neither aims
at producing mere machines nor has it that effect. As much attention
is given to the development of self-reliance in the rank and file as
to making them subordinate. It has long been recognised that there
are many occasions in war when even the private must use his wits; on
outpost, or patrol, as a scout, an orderly, or when his immediate
superiors have fallen, momentous issues may hang on his judgment and
initiative; and in a good army these qualities are sedulously
fostered by constant instruction in field duties. Nor is the fear
justified that the strict enforcement of exact obedience, whenever a
superior is present, impairs, under this system of training, the
capacity for independent action when such action becomes necessary.
In the old days, to drill and discipline the soldier into a machine
was undoubtedly the end of all his training. To-day his officers have
the more difficult task of stimulating his intelligence, while, at
the same time, they instil the habits of subordination; and that such
task may be successfully accomplished we have practical proof. The
regiments of the Light Brigade, trained by Sir John Moore nearly a
century ago on the system of to-day, proved their superiority in the
field over all others. As skirmishers, on the outpost, and in
independent fighting, they were exceedingly efficient; and yet, when
they marched shoulder to shoulder, no troops in Wellington's army
showed a more solid front, manoeuvred with greater precision, or were
more completely under the control of their officers.

Mechanical obedience, then, is perfectly compatible with the freest
exercise of the intelligence, provided that the men are so trained
that they know instinctively when to give the one and to use the
other; and the Confederates, had their officers and non-commissioned
officers been trained soldiers, might easily have acquired this
highest form of discipline. As it was, and as it always will be with
improvised troops, the discipline of battle was to a great degree
purely personal. The men followed those officers whom they knew, and
in whom they had confidence; but they did not always obey simply
because the officer had the right to command; and they were not
easily handled when the wisdom of an order or the necessity of a
movement was not apparent. The only way, it was said by an Englishman
in the Confederacy, in which an officer could acquire influence over
the Southern soldiers was by his personal conduct under fire. "Every
ounce of authority," was his expression, "had to be purchased by a
drop of my blood."* (* Three Months in the Southern States. General
Sir Arthur Fremantle, G.C.B.) Such being the case, it is manifest
that Jackson's methods of discipline were well adapted to the
peculiar constitution of the army in which he served. With the
officers he was exceedingly strict. He looked to them to set an
example of unhesitating obedience and the precise performance of
duty. He demanded, too--and in this respect his own conduct was a
model--that the rank and file should be treated with tact and
consideration. He remembered that his citizen soldiers were utterly
unfamiliar with the forms and customs of military life, that what to
the regular would be a mere matter of course, might seem a gross
outrage to the man who had never acknowledged a superior. In his
selection of officers, therefore, for posts upon his staff, and in
his recommendations for promotion, he considered personal
characteristics rather than professional ability. He preferred men
who would win the confidence of others--men not only strong, but
possessing warm sympathies and broad minds--to mere martinets, ruling
by regulation, and treating the soldier as a machine. But, at the
same time, he was by no means disposed to condone misconduct in the
volunteers. Never was there a more striking contrast than between
Jackson the general and Jackson off duty. During his sojourn at Moss
Neck, Mr. Corbin's little daughter, a child of six years old, became
a special favourite. "Her pretty face and winsome ways were so
charming that he requested her mother that she might visit him every
afternoon, when the day's labours were over. He had always some
little treat in store for her--an orange or an apple--but one
afternoon he found that his supply of good things was exhausted.
Glancing round the room he eye fell on a new uniform cap, ornamented
with a gold band. Taking his knife, he ripped off the braid, and
fastened it among the curls of his little playfellow." A little later
the child was taken ill, and after his removal from Moss Neck he
heard that she had died. "The general," writes his aide-de-camp,
"wept freely when I brought him the sad news." Yet in the
administration of discipline Jackson was far sterner than General
Lee, or indeed than any other of the generals in Virginia. "Once on
the march, fearing lest his men might stray from the ranks and commit
acts of pillage, he had issued an order that the soldiers should not
enter private dwellings. Disregarding the order, a soldier entered a
house, and even used insulting language to the women of the family.
This was reported to Jackson, who had the man arrested, tried by
drum-head court-martial, and shot in twenty minutes."* (* Bright
Skies and Dark Shadows. Reverend H.M. Field, D.D. page 286.) He never
failed to confirm the sentences of death passed by courts-martial on
deserters. It was in vain that his oldest

friends, or even the chaplains, appealed for a mitigation of the
extreme penalty. "While he was in command at Winchester, in December
1861, a soldier who was charged with striking his captain was tried
by court-martial and sentenced to be shot. Knowing that the breach of
discipline had been attended with many extenuating circumstances,
some of us endeavoured to secure his pardon. Possessing ourselves of
all the facts, we waited upon the general, who evinced the deepest
interest in the object of our visit, and listened with evident
sympathy to our plea. There was moisture in his eyes when we repeated
the poor fellow's pitiful appeal that he be allowed to die for his
country as a soldier on the field of battle, and not as a dog by the
muskets of his own comrades. Such solicitude for the success of our
efforts did he manifest that he even suggested some things to be done
which we had not thought of. At the same time he warned us not to be
too hopeful. He said: "It is unquestionably a case of great hardship,
but a pardon at this juncture might work greater hardship. Resistance
to lawful authority is a grave offence in a soldier. To pardon this
man would be to encourage insubordination throughout the army, and so
ruin our cause. Still," he added, "I will review the whole case, and
no man will be happier than myself if I can reach the same
conclusions as you have done." The soldier was shot."* (*
Communicated by the Reverend Dr. Graham.)

On another occasion four men were to be executed for desertion to the
enemy. The firing party had been ordered to parade at four o'clock in
the afternoon, and shortly before the hour a chaplain, not noted for
his tact, made his way to the general's tent, and petitioned
earnestly that the prisoners might even now be released. Jackson,
whom he found pacing backwards and forwards, in evident agitation,
watch in hand, listened courteously to his arguments, but made no
reply, until at length the worthy minister, in his most impressive
manner, said, "General, consider your responsibility before the Lord.
You are sending these men's souls to hell!" With a look of intense
disgust at such empty cant, Jackson made one stride forward, took the
astonished divine by his shoulders, and saying, in his severest
tones, "That, sir, is my business--do you do yours!" thrust him
forcibly from the tent.

His severity as regards the more serious offences did not, however,
alienate in the smallest degree the confidence and affection of his
soldiers. They had full faith in his justice. They were well aware
that to order the execution of some unfortunate wretch gave him
intense pain. But they recognised, as clearly as he did himself, that
it was sometimes expedient that individuals should suffer. They knew
that not all men, nor even the greater part, are heroes, and that if
the worthless element had once reason to believe that they might
escape the legitimate consequences of their crimes, desertion and
insubordination would destroy the army. By some of the senior
officers, however, his rigorous ideas of discipline were less
favourably considered. They were by no means disposed to quarrel with
the fact that the sentences of courts-martial in the Second Army
Corps were almost invariably confirmed; but they objected strongly to
the same measure which they meted out to the men being consistently
applied to themselves. They could not be brought to see that neglect
of duty, however trivial, on the part of a colonel or brigadier was
just as serious a fault as desertion or insubordination on the part
of the men; and the conflict of opinion, in certain cases, had
unfortunate results.

To those whose conduct he approved he was more than considerate.
General Lane, who was under him as a cadet at Lexington, writes as

"When in camp at Bunker Hill, after the battle of Sharpsburg, where
the gallant Branch was killed, I, as colonel commanding the brigade,
was directed by General A.P. Hill to hold my command in readiness,
with three days' rations, for detached service, and to report to
General Jackson for further orders. That was all the information that
Hill could give me. I had been in Jackson's corps since the battles
round Richmond, and had been very derelict in not paying my respects
to my old professor. As I rode to his headquarters I wondered if he
would recognise me. I certainly expected to receive his orders in a
few terse sentences, and to be promptly dismissed with a military
salute. He knew me as soon as I entered his tent, though we had not
met for years. He rose quickly, with a smile on his face, took my
hand in both of his in the warmest manner, expressed his pleasure at
seeing me, chided me for not having been to see him, and bade me be
seated. His kind words, the tones of his voice, his familiarly
calling me Lane, whereas it had always been Mr. Lane at the
Institute, put me completely at my ease. Then, for the first time, I
began to love that reserved man whom I had always honoured and
respected as my professor, and whom I greatly admired as my general.

"After a very pleasant and somewhat protracted conversation, he
ordered me to move at once, and as rapidly as possible, to North
Mountain Depot, tear up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and put
myself in communication with General Hampton (commanding cavalry
brigade), who would cover my operations. While we were there General
Jackson sent a member of his staff to see how we were progressing.
That night I received orders to move at once and quickly to
Martinsburg, as there had been heavy skirmishing near Kerneysville.
Next morning, when I reported to General Jackson, he received me in
the same cordial, warm-hearted manner, complimented me on the
thoroughness of my work, told me that he had recommended me for
promotion to take permanent charge of Branch's brigade, and that as I
was the only person recommended through military channels, I would be
appointed in spite of the two aspirants who were trying to bring
political influence to bear in Richmond in their behalf. When I rose
to go he took my hand in both of his, looked me steadily in the face,
and in the words and tones of friendly warmth, which can never be
forgotten, again expressed his confidence in my promotion, and bade


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