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

Part 2 out of 19

The night march, although it entailed the passage of a deep ravine,
and was so slow that one company in two hours made no more than four
hundred yards, was completely successful. The Mexicans, trusting to
the strength of their position, and to the presence of the
reinforcements, had neglected to guard their left. The lesson of
Cerro Gordo had been forgotten. The storming parties, guided by the
engineers, Lee, Beauregard, and Gustavus Smith, established
themselves, under cover of the darkness, within five hundred paces of
the intrenchments, and as the day broke the works were carried at the
first rush. Seventeen minutes after the signal had been given, the
garrison, attacked in front and rear simultaneously, was completely
dispersed. 800 Mexicans were captured, and nearly as many killed.* (*
4500 Americans (rank and file) were engaged, and the losses did not
exceed 50. Scott's Memoirs.) The reinforcements, unable to intervene,
and probably demoralised by this unlooked-for defeat, fell back to
the village of Churubusco, and San Antonio was evacuated. The pursuit
was hotly pressed. Churubusco was heavily bombarded. For two hours
the American batteries played upon the church and hacienda, both
strongly fortified, and after a counterstroke had been beaten back a
vigorous onslaught, made by the whole line of battle, compelled the
enemy to give way. A brilliant charge of General Shields' brigade
dispersed their last reserves, and the whole of the hostile army fled
in confusion to the city. The American cavalry followed at speed,
using their sabres freely on the panic-stricken masses, and one
squadron, not hearing the recall, dashed up to the very gates of the
city. Scott's losses amounted to 1053, including 76 officers. The
Mexican casualties were 3000 prisoners, and 3250 killed and wounded.
37 field-guns were abandoned, and, a still more valuable capture, a
large supply of ammunition fell into the hands of the victors.

Magruder's battery, it appears, was retained in reserve throughout
the battle of Churubusco, and Jackson's share in the victory was
confined to the engagement of the previous day. But his small charge
of three guns had been handled with skill and daring. Magruder was
more than satisfied. "In a few moments," ran his official report,
"Lieutenant Jackson, commanding the second section of the battery,
who had opened fire upon the enemy's works from a position on the
right, hearing our fire still further in front, advanced in handsome
style, and kept up the fire with equal briskness and effect. His
conduct was equally conspicuous during the whole day, and I cannot
too highly commend him to the Major-General's favourable

The extreme vigour with which the Americans had prosecuted their
operations now came to an untimely pause. After his double victory at
Contreras and Churubusco, General Scott proposed an armistice. The
whole of the Mexican army had been encountered. It had been
decisively defeated. Its losses, in men and materiel, had been very
heavy. The troops were utterly demoralised. The people were filled
with consternation, and a rapid advance would probably have been
followed by an immediate peace. But Scott was unwilling to drive his
foes to desperation, and he appears to have believed that if they
were spared all further humiliation they would accede without further
resistance to his demands.

The Mexicans, however, were only playing for time. During the
negotiations, in direct defiance of the terms of the armistice, Santa
Anna strengthened his fortifications, rallied his scattered army, and
prepared once more to confront the invader. Scott's ultimatum was
rejected, and on September 5 hostilities were renewed.

September 8.

Three days later the position of Molino del Rey, garrisoned by the
choicest of the Mexican troops, was stormed at dawn. But the enemy
had benefited by his respite. The fighting was desperate. 800
Americans were killed and wounded before the intrenchments and strong
buildings were finally carried; and although the Mexicans again lost
3000 men, including two generals, their spirit of resistance was not
yet wholly crushed.

Driven from their outworks, they had fallen back on a still more
formidable line. Behind the Molino del Rey rose the hill of
Chapultepec, crowned by the great castle which had been the palace of
Montezuma and of the Spanish viceroys, now the military college of
the Republic and the strongest of her fortresses. Three miles from
the city walls, the stronghold completely barred the line of advance
on the San Cosme Gate. Heavy guns mounted on the lofty bastions which
encircled the citadel, commanded every road, and the outflanking
movements which had hitherto set at nought the walls and parapets of
the Mexicans were here impracticable. Still, careful reconnaissance
had shown that, with all its difficulties, this was the most
favourable approach for the invading army. The gates of Belen and San
Antonio were beset by obstacles even more impracticable. The ground
over which the troops would advance to storm the fortress was far
firmer than elsewhere, there was ample space for the American
batteries, and if the hill were taken, the Mexicans, retreating along
two narrow causeways, with deep marshes on either hand, might easily
be deprived of all opportunity of rallying.

September 13.

On the night of the 11th four batteries of heavy guns were
established within easy range. On the 12th they opened fire; and the
next morning the American army, covered by the fire of the artillery,
advanced to the assault. In the victory of Molino del Rey, Magruder's
battery had taken little part. Jackson, posted with his section on
the extreme flank of the line, had dispersed a column of cavalry
which threatened a charge; but, with this brief interlude of action,
he had been merely a spectator. At Chapultepec he was more fortunate.
Pillow's division, to which the battery was attached, attacked the
Mexicans in front, while Worth's division assailed them from the
north. The 14th Infantry, connecting the two attacks, moved along a
road which skirts the base of the hill, and Magruder was ordered to
detach a section of his battery in support. Jackson was selected for
the duty, and as he approached the enemy's position dangers
multiplied at every step. The ground alongside was so marshy that the
guns were unable to leave the road. A Mexican fieldpiece, covered by
a breastwork, raked the causeway from end to end, while from the
heights of Chapultepec cannon of large calibre poured down a
destructive fire. The infantry suffered terribly. It was impossible
to advance along the narrow track; and when the guns were ordered up
the situation was in no way bettered. Nearly every horse was killed
or wounded. A deep ditch, cut across the road, hindered effective
action, and the only position where reply to the enemy's fire was
possible lay beyond this obstacle. Despite the losses of his command
Jackson managed to lift one gun across by hand. But his men became
demoralised. They left their posts. The example of their lieutenant,
walking up and down on the shot-swept road and exclaiming calmly,
"There is no danger: see! I am not hit," failed to inspire them with
confidence. Many had already fallen. The infantry, with the exception
of a small escort, which held its ground with difficulty, had
disappeared; and General Worth, observing Jackson's perilous
situation, sent him orders to retire. He replied it was more
dangerous to withdraw than to stand fast, and if they would give him
fifty veterans he would rather attempt the capture of the breastwork.
At this juncture Magruder, losing his horse as he galloped forward,
reached the road.

The ditch was crowded with soldiers; many wounded; many already dead;
many whose hearts had failed them. Beyond, on the narrow causeway,
the one gun which Jackson had brought across the ditch was still in

Deserted by his gunners, and abandoned by the escort which had been
ordered to support him, the young subaltern still held his ground.
With the sole assistance of a sergeant, of stauncher mettle than the
rest, he was loading and firing his solitary field-piece, rejoicing,
as became the son of a warrior race, in the hot breath of battle, and
still more in the isolation of his perilous position. To stand alone,
in the forefront of the fight, defying the terrors from which others
shrank, was the situation which of all others he most coveted; and
under the walls of Chapultepec, answering shot for shot, and plying
sponge and handspike with desperate energy, the fierce instincts of
the soldier were fully gratified. Nor was Magruder the man to proffer
prudent counsels. A second gun was hoisted across the ditch; the men
rallied; the Mexican artillery was gradually overpowered, and the
breastwork stormed. The crisis of the struggle was already past.
Pillow's troops had driven the enemy from their intrenchments at the
base of the hill, and beneath the shadows of the majestic cypresses,
which still bear the name of the Grove of Montezuma, and up the
rugged slopes which tower above them, pressed the assaulting columns.
A redoubt which stood midway up the height was carried. The Mexicans
fell back from shelter to shelter; but amid smoke and flame the
scaling ladders were borne across the castle ditch, and reared
against the lofty walls were soon covered with streams of men. The
leaders, hurled from the battlements on to the crowd below, failed to
make good their footing, but there were others to take their places.
The supports came thronging up; the enemy, assailed in front and
flank, drew back disheartened, and after a short struggle the
American colours, displayed upon the keep, announced to the citizens
of Mexico that Chapultepec had been captured. Yet the victory was not
complete. The greater part of the garrison had fled from their
intrenchments before the castle had been stormed; and infantry,
cavalry, and artillery, in wild confusion, were crowding in panic on
the causeways. But their numbers were formidable, and the city,
should the army be rallied, was capable of a protracted defence. Not
a moment was to be lost if the battle was to be decisive of the war.
The disorder on Chapultepec was hardly less than that which existed
in the ranks of the defeated Mexicans. Many of the stormers had
dispersed in search of plunder, and regiments and brigades had become
hopelessly intermingled in the assault of the rocky hill. Still the
pursuit was prompt. Towards the San Cosme Gate several of the younger
officers, a lieutenant by name Ulysses Grant amongst the foremost,
followed the enemy with such men as they could collect, and Jackson's
guns were soon abreast of the fighting line. His teams had been
destroyed by the fire of the Mexican batteries. Those of his waggons,
posted further to the rear, had partially escaped. To disengage the
dead animals from the limbers and to replace them by others would
have wasted many minutes, and he had eagerly suggested to Magruder
that the guns should be attached to the waggon-limbers instead of to
their own. Permission was given, and in a few moments his section was
thundering past the cliffs of Chapultepec. Coming into action within
close range of the flying Mexicans, every shot told on their
demoralised masses; but before the San Cosme Gate the enemy made a
last effort to avert defeat. Fresh troops were brought up to man the
outworks; the houses and gardens which lined the road were filled
with skirmishers; from the high parapets of the flat house-tops a
hail of bullets struck the head of the pursuing column; and again and
again the American infantry, without cover and with little space for
movement, recoiled from the attack.

The situation of the invading army, despite the brilliant victory of
Chapultepec, was not yet free from peril. The greater part of the
Mexican forces was still intact. The city contained 180,000
inhabitants, and General Scott's battalions had dwindled to the
strength of a small division. In the various battles before the
capital nearly 3000 officers and men had fallen, and the soldiers who
encompassed the walls of the great metropolis were spent with
fighting.* (* 862 officers and men fell at Chapultepec. Scott's
Memoirs.) One spark of the stubborn courage which bore Cortez and his
paladins through the hosts of Montezuma might have made of that
stately city a second Saragossa. It was eminently defensible. The
churches, the convents, the public buildings, constructed with that
solidity which is peculiarly Spanish, formed each of them a fortress.
The broad streets, crossing each other at right angles, rendered
concentration at any threatened point an easy matter, and beyond the
walls were broad ditches and a deep canal.

Nor was the strength of the city the greatest of Scott's
difficulties. Vera Cruz, his base of operations, was two hundred and
sixty miles distant; Puebla, his nearest supply-depot, eighty miles.
He had abandoned his communications. His army was dependent for food
on a hostile population. In moving round Lake Chalco, and attacking
the city from the south, he had burned his boats. A siege or an
investment were alike impossible. A short march would place the
enemy's army across his line of retreat, and nothing would have been
easier for the Mexicans than to block the road where it passes
between the sierras and the lake. Guerillas were already hovering in
the hills; one single repulse before the gates of the capital would
have raised the country in rear; and hemmed in by superior numbers,
and harassed by a cavalry which was at least equal to the task of
cutting off supplies, the handful of Americans must have cut their
way through to Puebla or have succumbed to starvation.

Such considerations had doubtless been at the root of the temporising
policy which had been pursued after Churubusco. But the uselessness
of half-measures had then been proved. The conviction had become
general that a desperate enterprise could only be pushed to a
successful issue by desperate tactics, and every available battalion
was hurried forward to the assault. Before the San Cosme Gate the
pioneers were ordered up, and within the suburb pick and crowbar
forced a passage from house to house. The guns, moving slowly
forward, battered the crumbling masonry at closest range. The
Mexicans were driven back from breastwork to breastwork; and a
mountain howitzer, which Lieutenant Grant had posted on the tower of
a neighbouring church, played with terrible effect, at a range of two
or three hundred yards, on the defenders of the Gate.

By eight o'clock in the evening the suburb had been cleared, and the
Americans were firmly established within the walls. To the
south-east, before the Belen Gate, another column had been equally
successful. During the night Santa Anna withdrew his troops, and when
day dawned the white flag was seen flying from the citadel. After a
sharp fight with 2000 convicts whom the fugitive President had
released, the invaders occupied the city, and the war was virtually
at an end. From Cerro Gordo to Chapultepec the power of discipline
had triumphed. An army of 30,000 men, fighting in their own country,
and supported by a numerous artillery, had been defeated by an
invading force of one-third the strength. Yet the Mexicans had shown
no lack of courage. "At Chapultepec and Molino del Rey, as on many
other occasions," says Grant, "they stood up as well as any troops
ever did."* (* Grant's Memoirs volume 1 page 169.) But their officers
were inexperienced; the men were ill-instructed; and against an army
of regular soldiers, well led and obedient, their untutored valour,
notwithstanding their superior numbers, had proved of no avail. They
had early become demoralised. Their strongest positions had been
rendered useless by the able manoeuvres of their adversaries.
Everywhere they had been out-generalled. They had never been
permitted to fight on the ground which they had prepared, and in
almost every single engagement they had been surprised. Nor had the
Government escaped the infection which had turned the hearts of the
troops to water.

September 14.

The energy of the pursuit after the fall of Chapultepec had wrought
its full effect, and on September 14 the city of Mexico was
surrendered, without further parley, to a force which, all told,
amounted to less than 7000 men.* (* The total loss in the battles
before the capital was 2703, including 383 officers. Scott's Memoirs.)

With such portion of his force as had not disbanded Santa Anna
undertook the siege of Puebla; and the guerillas, largely reinforced
from the army, waged a desultory warfare in the mountains. But these
despairing efforts were without effect upon the occupation of the
capital. The Puebla garrison beat back every attack; and the bands of
irregular horse men were easily dispersed. During these operations
Magruder's battery remained with headquarters near the capital, and
so far as Jackson was concerned all opportunities for distinction
were past.

February 1848.

The peace negotiations were protracted from September to the
following February, and in their camps beyond the walls the American
soldiers were fain to content themselves with their ordinary duties.

It cannot be said that Jackson had failed to take advantage of the
opportunities which fortune had thrown in his way. As eagerly as he
had snatched at the chance of employment in the field artillery he
had welcomed the tactical emergency which had given him sole command
of his section at Chapultepec. It was a small charge; but he had
utilised it to the utmost, and it had filled the cup of his ambition
to the brim. Ambitious he certainly was. "He confessed," says Dabney,
"to an intimate friend that the order of General Pillow, separating
his section on the day of Chapultepec from his captain, had excited
his abiding gratitude; so much so that while the regular officers
were rather inclined to depreciate the general as an unprofessional
soldier, he loved him because he gave him an opportunity to win
distinction." His friends asked him, long after the war, if he felt
no trepidation when so many were falling round him. He replied: "No;
the only anxiety of which I was conscious during the engagements was
a fear lest I should not meet danger enough to make my conduct


His share of the glory was more than ample. Contreras gave him the
brevet rank of captain. For his conduct at Chapultepec he was
mentioned in the Commander-in-Chief's dispatches, and publicly
complimented on his courage. Shortly after the capture of the city,
General Scott held a levee, and amongst others presented to him was
Lieutenant Jackson. When he heard the name, the general drew himself
up to his full height, and, placing his hands behind him, said with
affected sternness, "I don't know that I shall shake hands with Mr.
Jackson." Jackson, blushing like a girl, was overwhelmed with
confusion. General Scott, seeing that he had called the attention of
every one in the room, said, "If you can forgive yourself for the way
in which you slaughtered those poor Mexicans with your guns, I am not
sure that I can," and then held out his hand. "No greater
compliment," says General Gibbon, "could have been paid a young
officer, and Jackson apparently did not know he had done anything
remarkable till his general told him so."* (* Letter to the author.)
Magruder could find no praise high enough for his industry, his
capacity, and his gallantry, and within eighteen months of his first
joining his regiment he was breveted major. Such promotion was
phenomenal even in the Mexican war, and none of his West Point
comrades made so great a stride in rank. His future in his profession
was assured. He had acquired something more than the spurs of a field
officer in his seven months of service. A subaltern, it has been
said, learns but little of the higher art of war in the course of a
campaign. His daily work so engrosses his attention that he has
little leisure to reflect on the lessons in strategy and tactics
which unfold themselves before him. Without maps, and without that
information of the enemy's numbers and dispositions which alone
renders the manoeuvres intelligible, it is difficult, even where the
inclination exists, to discuss or criticise the problems, tactical
and strategical, with which the general has to deal. But siege and
battle, long marches and rough roads, gave the young American
officers an insight into the practical difficulties of war. It is
something to have seen how human nature shows itself under fire; how
easily panics may be generated; how positions that seem impregnable
may be rendered weak; to have witnessed the effect of surprise, and
to have realised the strength of a vigorous attack. It is something,
too, if a man learns his own worth in situations of doubt and danger;
and if he finds, as did Jackson, that battle sharpens his faculties,
and makes his self-control more perfect, his judgment clearer and
more prompt, the gain in self-confidence is of the utmost value.

Moreover, whether a young soldier learns much or little from his
first campaign depends on his intellectual powers and his previous
training. Jackson's brain, as his steady progress at West Point
proves, was of a capacity beyond the average. He was naturally
reflective. If, at the Military Academy, he had heard little of war;
if, during his service in Mexico, his knowledge was insufficient to
enable him to compare General Scott's operations with those of the
great captains, he had at least been trained to think. It is
difficult to suppose that his experience was cast away. He was no
thoughtless subaltern, but already an earnest soldier; and in after
times, when he came to study for himself the campaigns of Washington
and Napoleon, we may be certain that the teaching he found there was
made doubly impressive when read by the light of what he had seen
himself. Nor is it mere conjecture to assert that in his first
campaign his experience was of peculiar value to a future general of
the Southern Confederacy. Some of the regiments who fought under
Scott and Taylor were volunteers, civilians, like their successors in
the great Civil War, in all but name, enlisted for the war only, or
even for a shorter term, and serving under their own officers.
Several of these regiments had fought well; others had behaved
indifferently; and the problem of how discipline was to be maintained
in battle amongst these unprofessional soldiers obtruded itself as
unpleasantly in Mexico as it had in the wars with England. Amongst
the regular officers, accustomed to the absolute subordination of the
army, the question provoked perplexity and discussion.

So small was the military establishment of the States that in case of
any future war, the army, as in Mexico, would be largely composed of
volunteers; and, despite the high intelligence and warlike enthusiasm
of the citizen battalions, it was evident that they were far less
reliable than the regulars. Even General Grant, partial as he was to
the volunteers, admitted the superiority conferred by drill,
discipline, and highly trained officers. "A better army," he wrote,
"man for man, probably never faced an enemy than the one commanded by
General Taylor in the earlier engagements of the Mexican war."* (*
Grant's Memoirs volume 1 page 168.) These troops were all regulars,
and they were those who carried Scott in triumph from the shores of
the Gulf to the palace of Santa Anna. The volunteers had proved
themselves exceedingly liable to panic. Their superior intelligence
had not enabled them to master the instincts of human nature, and,
although they had behaved well in camp and on the march, in battle
their discipline had fallen to pieces.* (* Ripley's History of the
Mexican War volume 2 page 73 etc.) It could hardly be otherwise. Men
without ingrained habits of obedience, who have not been trained to
subordinate their will to another's, cannot be expected to render
implicit obedience in moments of danger and excitement; nor can they
be expected, under such circumstances, to follow officers in whom
they can have but little confidence. The ideal of battle is a
combined effort, directed by a trained leader. Unless troops are
thoroughly well disciplined such effort is impossible; the leaders
are ignored, and the spasmodic action of the individual is
substituted for the concentrated pressure of the mass. The cavalry
which dissolves into a mob before it strikes the enemy but seldom
attains success; and infantry out of hand is hardly more effective.
In the Mexican campaign the volunteers, although on many occasions
they behaved with admirable courage, continually broke loose from
control under the fire of the enemy. As individuals they fought well;
as organised bodies, capable of manoeuvring under fire and of
combined effort, they proved to be comparatively worthless.

So Jackson, observant as he was, gained on Mexican battle-fields some
knowledge of the shortcomings inherent in half-trained troops. And
this was not all. The expedition had demanded the services of nearly
every officer in the army of the United States, and in the toils of
the march, in the close companionship of the camp, in the excitement
of battle, the shrewder spirits probed the characters of their
comrades to the quick. In the history of the Civil War there are few
things more remarkable than the use which was made of the knowledge
thus acquired. The clue to many an enterprise, daring even to
foolhardiness, is to be found in this. A leader so intimately
acquainted with the character of his opponent as to be able to
predict with certainty what he will do under any given circumstances
may set aside with impunity every established rule of war. "All the
older officers, who became conspicuous in the rebellion," says Grant,
"I had also served with and known in Mexico. The acquaintance thus
formed was of immense service to me in the War of the Rebellion--I
mean what I learned of the characters of those to whom I was
afterwards opposed. I do not pretend to say that all my movements, or
even many of them, were made with special reference to the
characteristics of the commander against whom they were directed. But
my appreciation of my enemies was certainly affected by this
knowledge."* (* Grant's Memoirs volume 1 page 192.)

Many of the generals with whom Jackson became intimately connected,
either as friends or enemies, are named in Scott's dispatches.
Magruder, Hooker, McDowell, and Ambrose Hill belonged to his own
regiment. McClellan, Beauregard, and Gustavus Smith served on the
same staff as Lee. Joseph E. Johnston, twice severely wounded, was
everywhere conspicuous for dashing gallantry. Shields commanded a
brigade with marked ability. Pope was a staff officer. Lieutenant
D.H. Hill received two brevets. Lieutenant Longstreet, struck down
whilst carrying the colours at Chapultepec, was bracketed for
conspicuous conduct with Lieutenant Pickett. Lieutenant Edward
Johnson is mentioned as having specially distinguished himself in the
same battle. Captain Huger, together with Lieutenants Porter and
Reno, did good service with the artillery, and Lieutenant Ewell had
two horses killed under him at Churubusco.

So having proved his mettle and "drunk delight of battle with his
peers," Jackson spent nine pleasant months in the conquered city. The
peace negotiations were protracted. The United States coveted the
auriferous provinces of California and New Mexico, a tract as large
as a European kingdom, and far more wealthy. Loth to lose their
birthright, yet powerless to resist, the Mexicans could only haggle
for a price. The States were not disposed to be ungenerous, but the
transfer of so vast a territory could not be accomplished in a
moment, and the victorious army remained in occupation of the capital.

Beneath the shadow of the Stars and Stripes conqueror and conquered
lived in harmony. Mexico was tired of war. Since the downfall of
Spanish rule revolution had followed revolution with startling
rapidity. The beneficent despotism of the great viceroys had been
succeeded by the cruel exactions of petty tyrants, and for many a
long year the country had been ravaged by their armies. The capital
itself had enjoyed but a few brief intervals of peace, and now,
although the bayonets of an alien race were the pledge of their
repose, the citizens revelled in the unaccustomed luxury. Nor were
they ungrateful to those who brought them a respite from alarms and
anarchy. Under the mild administration of the American generals the
streets resumed their wonted aspect. The great markets teemed with
busy crowds. Across the long causeways rolled the creaking waggons,
laden with the produce of far-distant haciendas. Trade was restored,
and even the most patriotic merchants were not proof against the
influence of the American dollar. Between the soldiers and the people
was much friendly intercourse. Even the religious orders did not
disdain to offer their hospitality to the heretics. The uniforms of
the victorious army were to be seen at every festive gathering, and
the graceful Mexicanas were by no means insensible to the admiration
of the stalwart Northerners. Those blue-eyed and fair-haired invaders
were not so very terrible after all; and the beauties of the capital,
accustomed to be wooed in liquid accents and flowery phrases,
listened without reluctance to harsher tones and less polished
compliments. Travellers of many races have borne willing witness to
the charms and virtues of the women of Mexico. "True daughters of
Spain," it has been said, "they unite the grace of Castile to the
vivacity of Andalusia; and more sterling qualities are by no means
wanting. Gentle and refined, unaffectedly pleasing in manners and
conversation, they evince a warmth of heart which wins for them the
respect and esteem of all strangers." To the homes made bright by the
presence of these fair specimens of womanhood Scott's officers were
always welcome; and Jackson, for the first time in his life, found
himself within the sphere of feminine attractions. The effect on the
stripling soldier, who, stark fighter as he was, had seen no more of
life than was to be found in a country village or within the
precincts of West Point, may be easily imagined. Who the magnet was
he never confessed; but that he went near losing his heart to some
charming senorita of sangre azul he more than once acknowledged, and
he took much trouble to appear to advantage in her eyes. The
deficiencies in his education which prevented his full enjoyment of
social pleasures were soon made up. He not only learned to dance, an
accomplishment which must have taxed his perseverance to the utmost,
but he spent some months in learning Spanish; and it is significant
that to the end of his life he retained a copious vocabulary of those
tender diminutives which fall so gracefully from Spanish lips.

But during his stay in Mexico other and more lasting influences were
at work. Despite the delights of her delicious climate, where the
roses bloom the whole year round, the charms of her romantic scenery,
and the fascinations of her laughter-loving daughters, Jackson's
serious nature soon asserted itself. The constant round of light
amusements and simple duties grew distasteful. The impress of his
mother's teachings and example was there to guide him; and his native
reverence for all that was good and true received an unexpected
impulse. There were not wanting in the American army men who had a
higher ideal of duty than mere devotion to the business of their
profession. The officer commanding the First Artillery, Colonel Frank
Taylor, possessed that earnest faith which is not content with
solitude. "This good man," says Dabney, "was accustomed to labour as
a father for the religious welfare of his young officers, and during
the summer campaign his instructions and prayers had produced so much
effect as to awake an abiding anxiety and spirit of inquiry in
Jackson's mind." The latter had little prejudice in favour of any
particular sect or church. There was no State Establishment in the
United States. His youth had been passed in a household where
Christianity was practically unknown, and with characteristic
independence he determined to discover for himself the rule that he
should follow. His researches took a course which his Presbyterian
ancestors would assuredly have condemned. But Jackson's mind was
singularly open, and he was the last man in the world to yield to
prejudice. Soon after peace was declared, he had made the
acquaintance of a number of priests belonging to one of the great
religious orders of the Catholic Church. They had invited him to take
up his quarters with them, and when he determined to examine for
himself into the doctrine of the ancient faith, he applied through
them for an introduction to the Archbishop of Mexico. Several
interviews took place between the aged ecclesiastic and the young
soldier. Jackson departed unsatisfied. He acknowledged that the
prelate was a sincere and devout Christian, and he was impressed as
much with his kindness as his learning. But he left Mexico without
any settled convictions on the subject which now absorbed his

June 12.

On June 12, peace having been signed at the end of May, the last of
the American troops marched out of the conquered capital. Jackson's
battery was sent to Fort Hamilton, on Long Island, seven miles below
New York, and there, with his honours thick upon him, he settled down
to the quiet life of a small garrison. He had gone out to Mexico a
second lieutenant; he had come back a field-officer. He had won a
name in the army, and his native State had enrolled him amongst her
heroes. He had gone out an unformed youth; he had come back a man and
a proved leader of men. He had been known merely as an indefatigable
student and a somewhat unsociable companion. He had come back with a
reputation for daring courage, not only the courage which glories in
swift action and the excitement of the charge, but courage of an
enduring quality. And in that distant country he had won more than
fame. He had already learned something of the vanity of temporal
success. He had gone out with a vague notion of ruling his life in
accordance with moral precepts and philosophic maxims; but he was to
be guided henceforward by loftier principles than even devotion to
duty and regard for honour, and from the path he had marked out for
himself in Mexico he never deviated.

CHAPTER 1.3. LEXINGTON. 1851 TO 1861.


Of Jackson's life at Fort Hamilton there is little to tell. His
friend and mentor, Colonel Taylor, was in command. The chaplain, once
an officer of dragoons, was a man of persuasive eloquence and earnest
zeal; and surrounded by influences which had now become congenial,
the young major of artillery pursued the religious studies he had
begun in Mexico. There was some doubt whether he had been baptised as
a child. He was anxious that no uncertainty should exist as to his
adhesion to Christianity, but he was unwilling that the sacrament
should bind him to any particular sect.


On the understanding that no surrender of judgment would be involved,
he was baptised and received his first communion in the Episcopal

Two years passed without incident, and then Jackson was transferred
to Florida. In his new quarters his stay was brief.


In March 1851 he was appointed Professor of Artillery Tactics and
Natural Philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute. His success,
for such he deemed it, was due to his own merit. One of his Mexican
comrades, Major D.H. Hill, afterwards his brother-in-law, was a
professor in a neighbouring institution, Washington College, and had
been consulted by the Superintendent of the Institute as to the
filling of the vacant chair.

Hill remembered what had been said of Jackson at West Point: "If the
course had been one year longer he would have graduated at the head
of his class." This voluntary testimonial of his brother cadets had
not passed unheeded. It had weight, as the best evidence of his
thoroughness and application, with the Board of Visitors, and Jackson
was unanimously elected.

The Military Institute, founded twelve years previously on the model
of West Point, was attended by several hundred youths from Virginia
and other Southern States. At Lexington, in the county of Rockbridge,
a hundred miles west of Richmond, stand the castellated buildings and
the wide parade ground which formed the nursery of so many
Confederate soldiers. To the east rise the lofty masses of the Blue
Ridge. To the north successive ranges of rolling hills, green with
copse and woodland, fall gently to the lower levels; and stretching
far away at their feet, watered by that lovely river which the
Indians in melodious syllables called Shenandoah, "bright daughter of
the Stars," the great Valley of Virginia,

Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows,

lies embosomed within its mountain walls. Of all its pleasant market
towns, Lexington is not the least attractive; and in this pastoral
region, where the great forests stand round about the corn-fields,
and the breezes blow untainted from the uplands, had been built the
College which Washington, greatest of Virginians and greatest of
American soldiers, had endowed. Under the shadow of its towers the
State had found an appropriate site for her military school.

The cadets of the Institute, although they wore a uniform, were
taught by officers of the regular army, were disciplined as soldiers,
and spent some months of their course in camp, were not destined for
a military career. All aspirants for commissions in the United States
army had to pass through West Point; and the training of the State
colleges--for Virginia was not solitary in the possession of such an
institution--however much it may have benefited both the minds and
bodies of the rising generation, was of immediate value only to those
who became officers of the State militia. Still in all essential
respects the Military Institute was little behind West Point. The
discipline was as strict, the drill but little less precise. The
cadets had their own officers and their own sergeants, and the whole
establishment was administered on a military footing. No pains were
spared either by the State or the faculty to maintain the peculiar
character of the school; and the little battalion, although the
members were hardly likely to see service, was as carefully trained
as if each private in the ranks might one day become a general
officer. It was fortunate indeed for Virginia, when she submitted her
destinies to the arbitrament of war, that some amongst her statesmen
had been firm to the conviction that to defend one's country is a
task not a whit less honourable than to serve her in the ways of
peace. She was unable to avert defeat. But she more than redeemed her
honour; and the efficiency of her troops was in no small degree due
to the training so many of her officers had received at the Military

Still, notwithstanding its practical use to the State, the offer of a
chair at Lexington would probably have attracted but few of Jackson's
contemporaries. But while campaigning was entirely to his taste, life
in barracks was the reverse. In those unenlightened days to be known
as an able and zealous soldier was no passport to preferment. So long
as an officer escaped censure his promotion was sure; he might reach
without further effort the highest prizes the service offered, and
the chances of the dull and indolent were quite as good as those of
the capable and energetic. The one had no need for, the other no
incentive to, self-improvement, and it was very generally neglected.
Unless war intervened--and nothing seemed more improbable than
another campaign--even a Napoleon would have had to submit to the
inevitable. Jackson caught eagerly at the opportunity of freeing
himself from an unprofitable groove.

"He believed," he said, "that a man who had turned, with a good
military reputation, to pursuits of a semi-civilian character, and
had vigorously prosecuted his mental improvement, would have more
chance of success in war than those who had remained in the treadmill
of the garrison."

It was with a view, then, of fitting himself for command that Jackson
broke away from the restraints of regimental life; not because those
restraints were burdensome or distasteful in themselves, but because
he felt that whilst making the machine they might destroy the man.
Those responsible for the efficiency of the United States army had
not yet learned that the mind must be trained as well as the body,
that drill is not the beginning and the end of the soldier's
education, that unless an officer is trusted with responsibility in
peace he is but too apt to lose all power of initiative in war. That
Jackson's ideas were sound may be inferred from the fact that many of
the most distinguished generals in the Civil War were men whose
previous career had been analogous to his own.* (* Amongst these may
be mentioned Grant, Sherman, and McClellan. Lee himself, as an
engineer, had but small acquaintance with regimental life. The men
who saved India for England in the Great mutiny were of the same

His duties at Lexington were peculiar. As Professor of Artillery he
was responsible for little more than the drill of the cadets and
their instruction in the theory of gunnery. The tactics of artillery,
as the word is understood in Europe, he was not called upon to
impart. Optics, mechanics, and astronomy were his special subjects,
and he seems strangely out of place in expounding their dry formulas.

In the well-stocked library of the Institute he found every
opportunity of increasing his professional knowledge. He was an
untiring reader, and he read to learn. The wars of Napoleon were his
constant study. He was an enthusiastic admirer of his genius; the
swiftness, the daring, and the energy of his movements appealed to
his every instinct. Unfortunately, both for the Institute and his
popularity, it was not his business to lecture on military history.
We can well imagine him, as a teacher of the art of war, describing
to the impressionable youths around him the dramatic incidents of
some famous campaign, following step by step the skilful strategy
that brought about such victories as Austerlitz and Jena. The
advantage would then have been with his pupils; in the work assigned
to him it was the teacher that benefited. He was by no means
successful as an instructor of the higher mathematics. Although the
theories of light and motion were doubtless a branch of learning
which the cadets particularly detested, his methods of teaching made
it even more repellent. A thorough master of his subject, he lacked
altogether the power of aiding others to master it. No flashes of
humour relieved the tedium of his long and closely-reasoned
demonstrations. He never descended to the level of his pupils'
understanding, nor did he appreciate their difficulties. Facts
presented themselves to his intellect in few lights. As one of his
chief characteristics as a commander was the clearness with which he
perceived the end to be aimed at and the shortest way of reaching it,
so, in his explanations to his stumbling class, he could only repeat
the process by which he himself had solved the problem at issue. We
may well believe that his self-reliant nature, trained to intense
application, overlooked the fact that others, weaker and less gifted,
could not surmount unaided the obstacles which only aroused his own
masterful instincts. Nevertheless, his conscientious industry was not
entirely thrown away. To the brighter intellects in his class he
communicated accurate scholarship; and although the majority lagged
far behind, the thoroughness of his mental drill was most useful, to
himself perhaps even more than to the cadets.

1854 to 1857.

The death of his first wife, daughter of the reverend Dr. Junkin,
President of Washington College, after they had been married but
fourteen months, the solution of his religious difficulties, and his
reception into the Presbyterian Church; a five months' tour in
Europe, through Scotland, England, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy;
his marriage to Miss Morrison, daughter of a North Carolina
clergyman: such were the chief landmarks of his life at Lexington.
Ten years, with their burden of joy and sorrow, passed away, of
intense interest to the individual, but to the world a story dull and
commonplace. Jackson was by no means a man of mark in Rockbridge
county. Although his early shyness had somewhat worn off, he was
still as reserved as he had been at West Point. His confidence was
rarely given outside his own home. Intimates he had few, either at
the Institute or elsewhere. Still he was not in the least unsociable,
and there were many houses where he was always welcome. The academic
atmosphere of Lexington did not preclude a certain amount of gaiety.
The presence of Washington College and the Military Institute drew
together a large number of families during the summer, and fair
visitors thronged the leafy avenues of the little town. During these
pleasant months the officers and cadets, as became their cloth, were
always well to the fore. Recreation was the order of the day, and a
round of entertainments enlivened the "Commencements." Major Jackson
attended these gatherings with unfailing regularity, but soon after
his arrival he drew the line at dancing, and musical parties became
the limit of his dissipation. He was anything but a convivial
companion. He never smoked, he was a strict teetotaller, and he never
touched a card. His diet, for reasons of health, was of a most
sparing kind; nothing could tempt him to partake of food between his
regular hours, and for many years he abstained from both tea and
coffee. In those peaceful times, moreover, there was nothing either
commanding or captivating about the Professor of Artillery. His
little romance in Mexico had given him no taste for trivial
pleasures; and his somewhat formal manner was not redeemed by any
special charm of feature. The brow and jaw were undoubtedly powerful;
but the eyes were gentle, and the voice so mild and soft as to belie
altogether the set determination of the thin straight lips. Yet, at
the same time, if Jackson was not formed for general society, he was
none the less capable of making himself exceedingly agreeable in a
restricted and congenial circle. Young and old, when once they had
gained his confidence, came under the spell of his noble nature; and
if his friends were few they were very firm.

Why Jackson should have preferred the Presbyterian denomination to
all others we are nowhere told. But whatever his reasons may have
been, he was a most zealous and hardworking member of his church. He
was not content with perfunctory attendances at the services. He
became a deacon, and a large portion of his leisure time was devoted
to the work which thus devolved on him. His duties were to collect
alms and to distribute to the destitute, and nothing was permitted to
interfere with their exact performance. He was exceedingly charitable
himself--one tenth of his income was laid aside for the church, and
he gave freely to all causes of benevolence and public enterprise. At
the church meetings, whether for business or prayer, he was a regular
attendant, and between himself and his pastor existed the most
confidential relations. Nor did he consider that this was all that
was demanded of him. In Lexington, as in other Southern towns, there
were many poor negroes, and the condition of these ignorant and
helpless creatures, especially of the children, excited his
compassion. Out of his own means he established a Sunday school, in
which he and his wife were the principal teachers. His friends were
asked to send their slaves, and the experiment was successful. The
benches were always crowded, and the rows of black, bright-eyed faces
were a source of as much pride to him as the martial appearance of
the cadet battalion.

Jackson's religion entered into every action of his life. No duty,
however trivial, was begun without asking a blessing, or ended
without returning thanks. "He had long cultivated," he said, "the
habit of connecting the most trivial and customary acts of life with
a silent prayer." He took the Bible as his guide, and it is possible
that his literal interpretation of its precepts caused many to regard
him as a fanatic. His observance of the Sabbath was hardly in
accordance with ordinary usage. He never read a letter on that day,
nor posted one; he believed that the Government in carrying the mails
were violating a divine law, and he considered the suppression of
such traffic one of the most important duties of the legislature.
Such opinions were uncommon, even amongst the Presbyterians, and his
rigid respect for truth served to strengthen the impression that he
was morbidly scrupulous. If he unintentionally made a
misstatement--even about some trifling matter--as soon as he
discovered his mistake he would lose no time and spare no trouble in
hastening to correct it. "Why, in the name of reason," he was asked,
"do you walk a mile in the rain for a perfectly unimportant thing?"
"Simply because I have discovered that it was a misstatement, and I
could not sleep comfortably unless I put it right."

He had occasion to censure a cadet who had given, as Jackson
believed, the wrong solution of a problem. On thinking the matter
over at home he found that the pupil was right and the teacher wrong.
It was late at night and in the depth of winter, but he immediately
started off to the Institute, some distance from his quarters, and
sent for the cadet. The delinquent, answering with much trepidation
the untimely summons, found himself to his astonishment the recipient
of a frank apology. Jackson's scruples carried him even further.
Persons who interlarded their conversation with the unmeaning phrase
"you know" were often astonished by the blunt interruption that he
did NOT know; and when he was entreated at parties or receptions to
break through his dietary rules, and for courtesy's sake to accept
some delicacy, he would always refuse with the reply that he had "no
genius for seeming." But if he carried his conscientiousness to
extremes, if he laid down stringent rules for his own governance, he
neither set himself up for a model nor did he attempt to force his
convictions upon others. He was always tolerant; he knew his own
faults, and his own temptations, and if he could say nothing good of
a man he would not speak of him at all. But he was by no means
disposed to overlook conduct of which he disapproved, and undue
leniency was a weakness to which he never yielded. If he once lost
confidence or discovered deception on the part of one he trusted, he
withdrew himself as far as possible from any further dealings with
him; and whether with the cadets, or with his brother-officers, if an
offence had been committed of which he was called upon to take
notice, he was absolutely inflexible. Punishment or report inevitably
followed. No excuses, no personal feelings, no appeals to the
suffering which might be brought upon the innocent, were permitted to
interfere with the execution of his duty.

Such were the chief characteristics of the great Confederate as he
appeared to the little world of Lexington. The tall figure, clad in
the blue uniform of the United States army, always scrupulously neat,
striding to and from the Institute, or standing in the centre of the
parade-ground, while the cadet battalion wheeled and deployed at his
command, was familiar to the whole community. But Jackson's heart was
not worn on his sleeve. Shy and silent as he was, the knowledge that
even his closest acquaintances had of him was hardly more than
superficial. A man who was always chary of expressing his opinions,
unless they were asked for, who declined argument, and used as few
words as possible, attracted but little notice. A few recognised his
clear good sense; the majority considered that if he said little it
was because he had nothing worth saying. Because he went his own way
and lived by his own rules he was considered eccentric; because he
was sometimes absent-minded, and apt to become absorbed in his own
thoughts, he was set down as unpractical; his literal accuracy of
statement was construed as the mark of a narrow intellect, and his
exceeding modesty served to keep him in the background.

At the Institute, despite his reputation for courage, he was no
favourite even with the cadets. He was hardly in sympathy with them.
His temper was always equable. Whatever he may have felt he never
betrayed irritation, and in the lecture-room or elsewhere he was
kindness itself; but his own life had been filled from boyhood with
earnest purpose and high ambition. Hard work was more to his taste
than amusement. Time, to his mind, was far too valuable to be wasted,
and he made few allowances for the thoughtlessness and indolence of
irresponsible youth. As a relief possibly to the educational
treadmill, his class delighted in listening to the story of Contreras
and Chapultepec; but there was nothing about Jackson which
corresponded with a boy's idea of a hero. His aggressive punctuality,
his strict observance of military etiquette, his precise
interpretation of orders, seemed to have as little in common with the
fierce excitement of battle as the uninteresting occupations of the
Presbyterian deacon, who kept a Sunday school for negroes, had with
the reckless gaiety of the traditional sabreur.

"And yet," says one who know him, "they imbibed the principles he
taught. Slowly and certainly were they trained in the direction which
the teacher wished. Jackson justly believed that the chief value of
the Institute consisted in the habits of system and obedience which
it impressed on the ductile characters of the cadets, and regarded
any relaxation of the rules as tending to destroy its usefulness. His
conscientiousness seemed absurd to the young gentlemen who had no
idea of the importance of military orders or of the implicit
obedience which a good soldier deems it his duty to pay to them. But
which was right--the laughing young cadet or the grave major of
artillery? Let the thousands who in the bitter and arduous struggle
of the Civil War were taught by stern experience the necessity of
strict compliance with all orders, to the very letter, answer the
question."* (* Cooke page 28.)

"As exact as the multiplication table, and as full of things military
as an arsenal," was the verdict passed on Jackson by one of his
townsmen, and it appears to have been the opinion of the community at

Jackson, indeed, was as inarticulate as Cromwell. Like the great
Protector he "lived silent," and like him he was often misunderstood.
Stories which have been repeated by writer after writer attribute to
him the most grotesque eccentricities of manner, and exhibit his
lofty piety as the harsh intolerance of a fanatic. He has been
represented as the narrowest of Calvinists; and so general was the
belief in his stern and merciless nature that a great poet did not
scruple to link his name with a deed which, had it actually occurred,
would have been one of almost unexampled cruelty. Such calumnies as
Whittier's "Barbara Frichtie" may possibly have found their source in
the impression made upon some of Jackson's acquaintances at
Lexington, who, out of all sympathy with his high ideal of life and
duty, regarded him as morose and morbid; and when in after years the
fierce and relentless pursuit of the Confederate general piled the
dead high upon the battle-field, this conception of his character was
readily accepted. As he rose to fame, men listened greedily to those
who could speak of him from personal knowledge; the anecdotes which
they related were quickly distorted; the slightest peculiarities of
walk, speech, or gesture were greatly exaggerated; and even
Virginians seemed to vie with one another in representing the humble
and kind-hearted soldier as the most bigoted of Christians and the
most pitiless of men.

But just as the majority of ridiculous stories which cluster round
his name rest on the very flimsiest foundation, so the popular
conception of his character during his life at Lexington was
absolutely erroneous. It was only within the portals of his home that
his real nature disclosed itself. The simple and pathetic pages in
which his widow has recorded the story of their married life unfold
an almost ideal picture of domestic happiness, unchequered by the
faintest glimpse of austerity or gloom. That quiet home was the abode
of much content; the sunshine of sweet temper flooded every nook and
corner; and although the pervading atmosphere was essentially
religious, mirth and laughter were familiar guests.

"Those who knew General Jackson only as they saw him in public would
have found it hard to believe that there could be such a
transformation as he exhibited in his domestic life. He luxuriated in
the freedom and liberty of his home, and his buoyancy and joyousness
often ran into a playfulness and abandon that would have been
incredible to those who saw him only when he put on his official
dignity."* (* Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson page 108.) It was seldom,
indeed, except under his own roof, or in the company of his
intimates, that his reserve was broken through; in society he was
always on his guard, fearful lest any chance word might be
misconstrued or give offence. It is no wonder, then, that Lexington
misjudged him. Nor were those who knew him only when he was absorbed
in the cares of command before the enemy likely to see far below the
surface. The dominant trait in Jackson's character was his intense
earnestness, and when work was doing, every faculty of his nature was
engrossed in the accomplishment of the task on hand. But precise,
methodical, and matter-of-fact as he appeared, his was no commonplace
and prosaic nature. He had "the delicacy and the tenderness which are
the rarest and most beautiful ornament of the strong."* (* Marion
Crawford.) Beneath his habitual gravity a vivid imagination,
restrained indeed by strong sense and indulging in no vain visions,
was ever at work; and a lofty enthusiasm, which seldom betrayed
itself in words, inspired his whole being. He was essentially
chivalrous. His deference to woman, even in a land where such
deference was still the fashion, was remarkable, and his sympathy
with the oppressed was as deep as his loyalty to Virginia. He was an
ardent lover of nature. The autumnal glories of the forest, the songs
of the birds, the splendours of the sunset, were sources of unfailing
pleasure. More than all, the strength of his imagination carried him
further than the confines of the material world, and he saw with
unclouded vision the radiant heights that lie beyond.

Jackson, then, was something more than a man of virile temperament;
he was gifted with other qualities than energy, determination, and
common sense. He was not witty. He had no talent for repartee, and
the most industrious collector of anecdotes will find few good things
attributed to him. But he possessed a kindly humour which found vent
in playful expressions of endearment, or in practical jokes of the
most innocent description; and if these outbursts of high spirits
were confined to the precincts of his own home, they proved at least
that neither by temperament nor principle was he inclined to look
upon the darker side. His eye for a ludicrous situation was very
quick, and a joke which told against himself always caused him the
most intense amusement. It is impossible to read the letters which
Mrs. Jackson has published and to entertain the belief that his
temper was ever in the least degree morose. To use her own words,
"they are the overflow of a heart full of tenderness;" it is true
that they seldom omit some reference to that higher life which both
husband and wife were striving hand in hand to lead, but they are
instinct from first to last with the serene happiness of a contented

Even more marked than his habitual cheerfulness was his almost
feminine sympathy with the poor and feeble. His servants, as was the
universal rule in Virginia, were his slaves; but his relations with
his black dependents were of almost a paternal character, and his
kindness was repaid by that childlike devotion peculiar to the negro
race. More than one of these servants--so great was his reputation
for kindness--had begged him to buy them from their former owners.
Their interests were his special care; in sickness they received all
the attention and comfort that the house afforded; to his favourite
virtues, politeness and punctuality, they were trained by their
master himself, and their moral education was a task he cheerfully
undertook. "There was one little servant in the family," says Mrs.
Jackson, "whom my husband took under his sheltering roof at the
solicitations of an aged lady; to whom the child became a care after
having been left an orphan. She was not bright, but he persevered in
drilling her into memorising a child's catechism, and it was a most
amusing picture to see her standing before him with fixed attention,
as if she were straining every nerve, and reciting her answers with
the drop of a curtsey at each word. She had not been taught to do
this, but it was such an effort for her to learn that she assumed the
motion involuntarily."

Jackson's home was childless. A little daughter, born at Lexington,
lived only for a few weeks, and her place remained unfilled. His
sorrow, although he submitted uncomplainingly, was very bitter, for
his love for children was very great. "A gentleman," says Mrs.
Jackson, "who spent the night with us was accompanied by his
daughter, but four years of age. It was the first time the child had
been separated from her mother, and my husband suggested that she
should be committed to my care during the night, but she clung to her
father. After our guests had both sunk in slumber, the father was
aroused by someone leaning over his little girl and drawing the
covering more closely round her. It was only his thoughtful host, who
felt anxious lest his little guest should miss her mother's guardian
care under his roof, and could not go to sleep himself until he was
satisfied that all was well with the child."

These incidents are little more than trivial. The attributes they
reveal seem of small import. They are not such as go towards building
up a successful career either in war or politics. And yet to arrive
at a true conception of Jackson's character it is necessary that such
incidents should be recorded. That character will not appear the less
admirable because its strength and energy were tempered by softer
virtues; and when we remember the great soldier teaching a negro
child, or ministering to the comfort of a sick slave, it becomes easy
to understand the feelings with which his veterans regarded him. The
quiet home at Lexington reveals more of the real man than the camps
and conflicts of the Civil War, and no picture of Stonewall Jackson
would be complete without some reference to his domestic life.

"His life at home," says his wife, "was perfectly regular and
systematic. He arose about six o'clock, and first knelt in secret
prayer; then he took a cold bath, which was never omitted even in the
coldest days of winter. This was followed by a brisk walk, in rain or

"Seven o'clock was the hour for family prayers, which he required all
his servants to attend promptly and regularly. He never waited for
anyone, not even his wife. Breakfast followed prayers, after which he
left immediately for the Institute, his classes opening at eight
o'clock and continuing to eleven. Upon his return home at eleven
o'clock he devoted himself to study until one. The first book he took
up daily was his Bible, which he read with a commentary, and the many
pencil marks upon it showed with what care he bent over its pages.
From his Bible lesson he turned to his text-books. During those hours
of study he would permit no interruption, and stood all the time in
front of a high desk. After dinner he gave himself up for half an
hour or more to leisure and conversation, and this was one of the
brightest periods in his home life. He then went into his garden, or
out to his farm to superintend his servants, and frequently joined
them in manual labour. He would often drive me to the farm, and find
a shady spot for me under the trees, while he attended to the work of
the field. When this was not the case, he always returned in time to
take me, if the weather permitted, for an evening walk or drive. In
summer we often took our drives by moonlight, and in the beautiful
Valley of Virginia the queen of night seemed to shine with more
brightness than elsewhere. When at home he would indulge himself in a
season of rest and recreation after supper, thinking it was injurious
to health to go to work immediately. As it was a rule with him never
to use his eyes by artificial light, he formed the habit of studying
mentally for an hour or so without a book. After going over his
lessons in the morning, he thus reviewed them at night, and in order
to abstract his thoughts from surrounding objects--a habit which he
had cultivated to a remarkable degree--he would, if alone with his
wife, ask that he might not be disturbed by any conversation; he
would then take his seat with his face to the wall, and remain in
perfect abstraction until he finished his mental task. He was very
fond of being read to, and much of our time in the evening was passed
in my ministering to him in this way. He had a library, which, though
small, was select, composed chiefly of scientific, historical, and
religious books, with some of a lighter character, and some in
Spanish and French. Nearly all of them were full of his pencil marks,
made with a view to future reference." Next to the Bible, history,
both ancient and modern, was his favourite study. Plutarch, Josephus,
Rollin, Robertson, Hallam, Macaulay, and Bancroft were his constant
companions. Shakespeare held an honoured place upon his shelves; and
when a novel fell into his hands he became so absorbed in the story
that he eventually avoided such literature as a waste of time. "I am
anxious," he wrote to a relative, "to devote myself to study until I
shall become master of my profession."

The Jacksons were far from affluent. The professor had nothing but
his salary, and his wife, one of a large family, brought no increase
to their income. But the traditional hospitality of Virginia was a
virtue by no means neglected. He was generous but unostentatious in
his mode of living, and nothing gave him more pleasure than to bid
his friends welcome to his own home.

His outdoor recreations were healthful but not exciting. The hills
round Lexington teemed with game, the rivers with fish, and shooting
and fishing were the favourite amusements of his colleagues. But
Jackson found no pleasure in rod or gun; and although fond of riding
and a good horseman, he never appears to have joined in any of those
equestrian sports to which the Virginians were much addicted. He
neither followed the hunt nor tilted at the ring. His exercise was
taken after more utilitarian fashion, in the garden or the farm.

It need hardly be said that such a lover of order and method was
strictly economical, and the wise administration of the farm and
household permitted an annual expenditure on travel. Many of the most
beautiful localities and famous cities of the east and north were
visited in these excursions. Sometimes he wandered with his wife in
search of health; more often the object of their journey was to see
with their own eyes the splendid scenery of their native land. The
associations which were ever connected in Jackson's mind with his
tour through Europe show how intensely he appreciated the marvels
both of nature and of art.

"I would advise you," he wrote to a friend, "never to name my
European trip to me unless you are blest with a superabundance of
patience, as its very mention is calculated to bring up with it an
almost inexhaustible assemblage of grand and beautiful associations.
Passing over the works of the Creator, which are far the most
impressive, it is difficult to conceive of the influences which even
the works of His creatures exercise over the mind of one who lingers
amidst their master productions. Well do I remember the influence of
sculpture upon me during my short stay in Florence, and how there I
began to realise the sentiment of the Florentine: "Take from me my
liberty, take what you will, but leave me my statuary, leave me these
entrancing productions of art." And similar to this is the influence
of painting."

But delightful as were these holiday expeditions, the day of
Jackson's return to Lexington and his duties never came too soon. In
the quiet routine of his home life, in his work at the Institute, in
the supervision of his farm and garden, in his evenings with his
books, and in the services of his church, he was more than contented.
Whatever remained of soldierly ambition had long been eradicated. Man
of action as he essentially was, he evinced no longing for a wider
sphere of intellectual activity or for a more active existence. Under
his own roof-tree he found all that he desired. "There," says his
wife, "all that was best in his nature shone forth;" and that temper
was surely of the sweetest which could utter no sterner rebuke than
"Ah! that is not the way to be happy!"

Nor was it merely his own gentleness of disposition and the many
graces of his charming helpmate that secured so large a degree of
peace and happiness. Jackson's religion played even a greater part.
It was not of the kind which is more concerned with the terrors of
hell than the glories of paradise. The world to him was no place of
woe and lamentation, its beauties vanity, and its affections a snare.
As he gazed with delight on the gorgeous tints of the autumnal
forests, and the lovely landscapes of his mountain home, so he
enjoyed to the utmost the life and love which had fallen to his lot,
and thanked God for that capacity for happiness with which his nature
was so largely gifted. Yet it cannot be said that he practised no
self-denial. His life, in many respects, was one of constant
self-discipline, and when his time came to sacrifice himself, he
submitted without a murmur. But in his creed fear had no place. His
faith was great. It was not, however, a mere belief in God's
omnipotence and God's justice, but a deep and abiding confidence in
His infinite compassion and infinite love; and it created in him an
almost startling consciousness of the nearness and reality of the
invisible world. In a letter to his wife it is revealed in all its

"You must not be discouraged at the slowness of recovery. Look up to
Him who giveth liberally for faith to be resigned to His divine will,
and trust Him for that measure of health which will most glorify Him,
and advance to the greatest extent your own real happiness. We are
sometimes suffered to be in a state of perplexity that our faith may
be tried and grow stronger. See if you cannot spend a short time
after dark in looking out of your window into space, and meditating
upon heaven, with all its joys unspeakable and full of glory..."All
things work together for good" to God's children. Try to look up and
be cheerful, and not desponding. Trust our kind Heavenly Father, and
by the eye of faith see that all things are right and for your best
interests. The clouds come, pass over us, and are followed by bright
sunshine; so in God's moral dealings with us, He permits to have
trouble awhile. But let us, even in the most trying dispensations of
His Providence, be cheered by the brightness which is a little ahead."

It would serve no useful purpose to discuss Jackson's views on
controversial questions. It may be well, however, to correct a common
error. It has been asserted that he was a fatalist, and therefore
careless of a future over which he believed he had no control. Not a
word, however, either in his letters or in his recorded conversations
warrants the assumption. It is true that his favourite maxim was
"Duty is ours, consequences are God's," and that knowing "all things
work together for good," he looked forward to the future without
misgiving or apprehension.

But none the less he believed implicitly that the destiny of men and
of nations is in their own hands. His faith was as sane as it was
humble, without a touch of that presumptuous fanaticism which stains
the memory of Cromwell, to whom he has been so often compared. He
never imagined, even at the height of his renown, when victory on
victory crowned his banners, that he was "the scourge of God," the
chosen instrument of His vengeance. He prayed without ceasing, under
fire as in the camp; but he never mistook his own impulse for a
revelation of the divine will. He prayed for help to do his duty, and
he prayed for success. He knew that:

"More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of;"

but he knew, also, that prayer is not always answered in the way
which man would have it. He went into battle with supreme confidence,
not, as has been alleged, that the Lord had delivered the enemy into
his hands, but that whatever happened would be the best that could
happen. And he was as free from cant as from self-deception. It may
be said of Jackson, as has been said so eloquently of the men whom,
in some respects, he closely resembled, that "his Bible was literally
food to his understanding and a guide to his conduct. He saw the
visible finger of God in every incident of life...That which in our
day devout men and women feel in their earnest moments of prayer, the
devout Puritan felt, as a second nature, in his rising up and in his
lying down; in the market-place and in the home; in society and in
business; in Parliament, in Council, and on the field of battle. And
feeling this, the Puritan had no shame in uttering the very words of
the Bible wherein he had learned so to feel; nay, he would have
burned with shame had he faltered in using the words. It is very hard
for us now to grasp what this implies...But there was a generation in
which this phraseology was the natural speech of men."* (* Oliver
Cromwell by Frederic Harrison page 29.) Of this generation, although
later in time, was Stonewall Jackson. To him such language as he used
in his letters to his wife, in conversation with his intimates, and
not rarely in his official correspondence, was "the literal assertion
of truths which he felt to the roots of his being," which absorbed
his thoughts, which coloured every action of his life, and which,
from the abundance of his heart, rose most naturally to his lips.

There is no need for further allusion to his domestic or religious
life. If in general society Jackson was wanting in geniality; if he
was so little a man of the world that his example lost much of the
influence which, had he stood less aloof from others, it must have
exercised, it was the fruit of his early training, his natural
reserve, and his extreme humility. It is impossible, however, that so
pure a life should have been altogether without reflex upon others.
If the cadets profited but indirectly, the slaves had cause to bless
his practical Christianity; the poor and the widow knew him as a
friend, and his neighbours looked up to him as the soul of sincerity,
the enemy of all that was false and vile. And for himself--what share
had those years of quiet study, of self-communing, and of
self-discipline, in shaping the triumphs of the Confederate arms? The
story of his military career is the reply.

Men of action have before now deplored the incessant press of
business which leaves them no leisure to think out the problems which
may confront them in the future. Experience is of little value
without reflection, and leisure has its disadvantages. "One can
comprehend," says Dabney, referring to Jackson's peculiar form of
mental exercise, "how valuable was the training which his mind
received for his work as a soldier. Command over his attention was
formed into a habit which no tempest of confusion could disturb. His
power of abstraction became unrivalled. His imagination was trained
and invigorated until it became capable of grouping the most
extensive and complex considerations. The power of his mind was
drilled like the strength of an athlete, and his self-concentration
became unsurpassed."

Such training was undoubtedly the very best foundation for the
intellectual side of a general's business. War presents a constant
succession of problems to be solved by mental processes. For some
experience and resource supply a ready solution. Others, involving
the movements of large bodies, considerations of time and space, and
the thousand and one circumstances, such as food, weather, roads,
topography, and morale, which a general must always bear in mind, are
composed of so many factors, that only a brain accustomed to hard
thinking can deal with them successfully. Of this nature are the
problems of strategy--those which confront a general in command of an
army or of a detached portion of an army, and which are worked out on
the map. The problems of the battle-field are of a different order.
The natural characteristics which, when fortified by experience,
carry men through any dangerous enterprise, win the majority of
victories. But men may win battles and be very poor generals. They
may be born leaders of men, and yet absolutely unfitted for
independent command. Their courage, coolness, and common sense may
accomplish the enemy's overthrow on the field, but with strategical
considerations their intellects may be absolutely incapable of
grappling. In the great wars of the early part of the century Ney and
Blucher were probably the best fighting generals of France and
Prussia. But neither could be trusted to conduct a campaign. Blucher,
pre-eminent on the battle-field, knew nothing of the grand
combinations which prepare and complete success. If he was the strong
right hand of the Prussian army, his chief of staff was the brain.
"Gneisenau," said the old Marshal, "makes the pills which I
administer." "Ney's best qualities," says Jomini, who served long on
his staff, "his heroic valour, his quick coup d'oeil, and his energy,
diminished in the same proportion that the extent of his command
increased his responsibility. Admirable on the field of battle, he
displayed less assurance, not only in council, but whenever he was
not actually face to face with the enemy." It is not of such material
as Ney and Blucher, mistrustful of their own ability, that great
captains are made. Marked intellectual capacity is the chief
characteristic of the most famous soldiers. Alexander, Hannibal,
Caesar, Marlborough, Washington, Frederick, Napoleon, Wellington, and
Nelson were each and all of them something more than mere fighting
men. Few of their age rivalled them in strength of intellect. It was
this, combined with the best qualities of Ney and Blucher, that made
them masters of strategy, and lifted them high above those who were
tacticians and nothing more; and it was strength of intellect that
Jackson cultivated at Lexington.

So, in that quiet home amidst the Virginian mountains, the years sped
by, peaceful and uneventful, varied only by the holiday excursions of
successive summers. By day, the lecture at the Institute, the drill
of the cadet battery, the work of the church, the pleasant toil of
the farm and garden. When night fell, and the curtains were drawn
across the windows that looked upon the quiet street, there in that
home where order reigned supreme, where, as the master wished, "each
door turned softly on a golden hinge," came those hours of thought
and analysis which were to fit him for great deeds.

The even tenor of this calm existence was broken, however, by an
incident which intensified the bitter feeling which already divided
the Northern and Southern sections of the United States. During the
month of January, 1859, Jackson had marched with the cadet battalion
to Harper's Ferry, where, on the northern frontier of Virginia, the
fanatic, John Brown, had attempted to raise an insurrection amongst
the negroes, and had been hung after trial in presence of the troops.
By the South Brown was regarded as a madman and a murderer; by many
in the North he was glorified as a martyr; and so acute was the
tension that early in 1860, during a short absence from Lexington,
Jackson wrote in a letter to his wife, "What do you think about the
state of the country? Viewing things at Washington from human
appearances, I think we have great reason for alarm." A great crisis
was indeed at hand. But if to her who was ever beside him, while the
storm clouds were rising dark and terrible over the fair skies of the
prosperous Republic, the Christian soldier seemed the man best fitted
to lead the people, it was not so outside. None doubted his sincerity
or questioned his resolution, but few had penetrated his reserve. As
the playful tenderness he displayed at home was never suspected, so
the consuming earnestness, the absolute fearlessness, whether of
danger or of responsibility, the utter disregard of man, and the
unquestioning faith in the Almighty, which made up the individuality
which men called Stonewall Jackson, remained hidden from all but one.

To his wife his inward graces idealised his outward seeming; but
others, noting his peculiarities, and deceived by his modesty, saw
little that was remarkable and much that was singular in the staid
professor. Few detected, beneath that quiet demeanour and absent
manner, the existence of energy incarnate and an iron will; and still
fewer beheld, in the plain figure of the Presbyterian deacon, the
potential leader of great armies, inspiring the devotion of his
soldiers, and riding in the forefront of victorious battle.

CHAPTER 1.4. SECESSION. 1860 TO 1861.


Jackson spent ten years at Lexington, and he was just five-and-thirty
when he left it. For ten years he had seen no more of military
service than the drills of the cadet battalion. He had lost all touch
with the army. His name had been forgotten, except by his comrades of
the Mexican campaign, and he had hardly seen a regular soldier since
he resigned his commission. But, even from a military point of view,
those ten years had not been wasted. His mind had a wider grasp, and
his brain was more active. Striving to fit himself for such duties as
might devolve on him, should he be summoned to the field, like all
great men and all practical men he had gone to the best masters. In
the campaigns of Napoleon he had found instruction in the highest
branch of his profession, and had made his own the methods of war
which the greatest of modern soldiers both preached and practised.
Maturer years and the search for wisdom had steadied his restless
daring; and his devotion to duty, always remarkable, had become a
second nature. His health, under careful and self-imposed treatment,
had much improved, and the year 1861 found him in the prime of
physical and mental vigour. Already it had become apparent that his
life at Lexington was soon to end. The Damascus blade was not to rust
upon the shelf. During the winter of 1860-61 the probability of a
conflict between the free and slave-holding States, that is, between
North and South, had become almost a certainty. South Carolina,
Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, had
formally seceded from the Union; and establishing a Provisional
Government, with Jefferson Davis as President, at Montgomery in
Alabama, had proclaimed a new Republic, under the title of the
Confederate States of America. In order to explain Jackson's attitude
at this momentous crisis, it will be necessary to discuss the action
of Virginia, and to investigate the motives which led her to take the
side she did.

Forces which it was impossible to curb, and which but few detected,
were at the root of the secession movement. The ostensible cause was
the future status of the negro.

Slavery was recognised in fifteen States of the Union. In the North
it had long been abolished, but this made no difference to its
existence in the South. The States which composed the Union were
semi-independent communities, with their own legislatures, their own
magistracies, their own militia, and the power of the purse. How far
their sovereign rights extended was a matter of contention; but,
under the terms of the Constitution, slavery was a domestic
institution, which each individual State was at liberty to retain or
discard at will, and over which the Federal Government had no control
whatever. Congress would have been no more justified in declaring
that the slaves in Virginia were free men than in demanding that
Russian conspirators should be tried by jury. Nor was the
philanthropy of the Northern people, generally speaking, of an
enthusiastic nature. The majority regarded slavery as a necessary
evil; and, if they deplored the reproach to the Republic, they made
little parade of their sentiments. A large number of Southerners
believed it to be the happiest condition for the African race; but
the best men, especially in the border States, of which Virginia was
the principal, would have welcomed emancipation. But neither
Northerner nor Southerner saw a practicable method of giving freedom
to the negro. Such a measure, if carried out in its entirety, meant
ruin to the South. Cotton and tobacco, the principal and most
lucrative crops, required an immense number of hands, and in those
hands--his negro slaves--the capital of the planter was locked up.
Emancipation would have swept the whole of this capital away.
Compensation, the remedy applied by England to Jamaica and South
Africa, was hardly to be thought of. Instead of twenty millions
sterling, it would have cost four hundred millions. It was doubtful,
too, if compensation would have staved off the ruin of the planters.
The labour of the free negro, naturally indolent and improvident, was
well known to be most inefficient as compared with that of the slave.
For some years, to say the least, after emancipation it would have
been impossible to work the plantations except at a heavy loss.
Moreover, abolition, in the judgment of all who knew him, meant ruin
to the negro. Under the system of the plantations, honesty and
morality were being gradually instilled into the coloured race. But
these virtues had as yet made little progress; the Christianity of
the slaves was but skin-deep; and if all restraint were removed, if
the old ties were broken, and the influence of the planter and his
family should cease to operate, it was only too probable that the
four millions of Africans would relapse into the barbaric vices of
their original condition. The hideous massacres which had followed
emancipation in San Domingo had not yet been forgotten. It is little
wonder, then, that the majority shrank before a problem involving
such tremendous consequences.

A party, however, conspicuous both in New England and the West, had
taken abolition for its watchword. Small in numbers, but vehement in
denunciation, its voice was heard throughout the Union. Zeal for
universal liberty rose superior to the Constitution. That instrument
was repudiated as an iniquitous document. The sovereign rights of the
individual States were indignantly denied. Slavery was denounced as
the sum of all villainies, the slave-holder as the worst of tyrants;
and no concealment was made of the intention, should political power
be secured, of compelling the South to set the negroes free. In the
autumn of 1860 came the Presidential election. Hitherto, of the two
great political parties, the Democrats had long ruled the councils of
the nation, and nearly the whole South was Democratic. The South, as
regards population, was numerically inferior to the North; but the
Democratic party had more than held its own at the ballot-boxes, for
the reason that it had many adherents in the North. So long as the
Southern and Northern Democrats held together, they far outnumbered
the Republicans. In 1860, however, the two sections of the Democratic
party split asunder. The Republicans, favoured by the schism, carried
their own candidate, and Abraham Lincoln became President. South
Carolina at once seceded and the Confederacy was soon afterwards

It is not at first sight apparent why a change of government should
have caused so sudden a disruption of the Union. The Republican
party, however, embraced sections of various shades of thought. One
of these, rising every day to greater prominence, was that which
advocated immediate abolition; and to this section, designated by the
South as "Black Republicans," the new President was believed to
belong. It is possible that, on his advent to office, the political
leaders of the South, despite the safeguards of the Constitution, saw
in the near future the unconditional emancipation of the slaves; and
not only this, but that the emancipated slaves would receive the
right of suffrage, and be placed on a footing of complete equality
with their former masters.* (* Grant's Memoirs volume 1 page 214.) As
in many districts the whites were far outnumbered by the negroes,
this was tantamount to transferring all local government into the
hands of the latter, and surrendering the planters to the mercies of
their former bondsmen.

It is hardly necessary to say that an act of such gross injustice was
never contemplated, except by hysterical abolitionists and those who
truckled for their votes. It was certainly not contemplated by Mr.
Lincoln; and it was hardly likely that a President who had been
elected by a minority of the people would dare, even if he were so
inclined, to assume unconstitutional powers. The Democratic party,
taking both sections together, was still the stronger; and the
Northern Democrats, temporarily severed as they were from their
Southern brethren, would most assuredly have united with them in
resisting any unconstitutional action on the part of the Republicans.

If, then, it might be asked, slavery ran no risk of unconditional
abolition, why should the Southern political leaders have acted with
such extraordinary precipitation? Why, in a country in which, to all
appearances, the two sections had been cordially united, should the
advent to power of one political party have been the signal for so
much disquietude on the part of the other? Had the presidential seat
been suddenly usurped by an abolitionist tyrant of the type of
Robespierre the South could hardly have exhibited greater
apprehension. Few Americans denied that a permanent Union, such as
had been designed by the founders of the Republic, was the best
guarantee of prosperity and peace. And yet because a certain number
of misguided if well-meaning men clamoured for emancipation, the
South chose to bring down in ruin the splendid fabric which their
forefathers had constructed. In thus refusing to trust the good sense
and fair dealing of the Republicans, it would seem, at a superficial
glance, that the course adopted by the members of the new
Confederacy, whether legitimate or not, could not possibly be
justified.* (* I have been somewhat severely taken to task for
attaching the epithets "misguided," "unpractical," "fanatical," to
the abolitionists. I see no reason, however, to modify my language.
It is too often the case that men of the loftiest ideals seek to
attain them by the most objectionable means, and the maxim Fiat
justitia ruat coelum cannot be literally applied to great affairs.
The conversion of the Mahomedan world to Christianity would be a
nobler work than even the emancipation of the negro, but the
missionary who began with reviling the faithful, and then proceeded
to threaten them with fire and the sword unless they changed their
creed, would justly be called a fanatic. Yet the abolitionists did
worse than this, for they incited the negroes to insurrection. Nor do
I think that the question is affected by the fact that many of the
abolitionists were upright, earnest, and devout. A good man is not
necessarily a wise man, and I remember that Samuel Johnson and John
Wesley supported King George against the American colonists.)

Unfortunately, something more than mere political rancour was at
work. The areas of slave and of free labour were divided by an
artificial frontier. "Mason and Dixon's line," originally fixed as
the boundary between Pennsylvania on the north and Virginia and
Maryland on the south, cut the territory of the United States into
two distinct sections; and, little by little, these two sections,
geographically as well as politically severed, had resolved
themselves into what might almost be termed two distinct nations.

Many circumstances tended to increase the cleavage. The South was
purely agricultural; the most prosperous part of the North was purely
industrial. In the South, the great planters formed a landed
aristocracy; the claims of birth were ungrudgingly admitted; class
barriers were, to a certain extent, a recognised part of the social
system, and the sons of the old houses were accepted as the natural
leaders of the people. In the North, on the contrary, the only
aristocracy was that of wealth; and even wealth, apart from merit,
had no hold on the respect of the community. The distinctions of
caste were slight in the extreme. The descendants of the Puritans, of
those English country gentlemen who had preferred to ride with
Cromwell rather than with Rupert, to pray with Baxter rather than
with Laud, made no parade of their ancestry; and among the extreme
Republicans existed an innate but decided aversion to the recognition
of social grades. Moreover, divergent interests demanded different
fiscal treatment. The cotton and tobacco of the South, monopolising
the markets of the world, asked for free trade. The manufacturers of
New England, struggling against foreign competition, were strong
protectionists, and they were powerful enough to enforce their will
in the shape of an oppressive tariff. Thus the planters of Virginia
paid high prices in order that mills might flourish in Connecticut;
and the sovereign States of the South, to their own detriment, were
compelled to contribute to the abundance of the wealthier North. The
interests of labour were not less conflicting. The competition
between free and forced labour, side by side on the same continent,
was bound in itself, sooner or later, to breed dissension; and if it
had not yet reached an acute stage, it had at least created a certain
degree of bitter feeling. But more than all--and the fact must be
borne in mind if the character of the Civil War is to be fully
appreciated--the natural ties which should have linked together the
States on either side of Mason and Dixon's line had weakened to a
mere mechanical bond. The intercourse between North and South, social
or commercial, was hardly more than that which exists between two
foreign nations. The two sections knew but little of each other, and
that little was not the good points but the bad.

For more than fifty years after the election of the first President,
while as yet the crust of European tradition overlaid the young
shoots of democracy, the supremacy, social and political, of the
great landowners of the South had been practically undisputed. But
when the young Republic began to take its place amongst the nations,
men found that the wealth and talents which led it forward belonged
as much to the busy cities of New England as to the plantations of
Virginia and the Carolinas; and with the growing sentiment in favour
of universal equality began the revolt against the dominion of a
caste. Those who had carved out their own fortunes by sheer hard work
and ability questioned the superiority of men whose positions were no
guarantee of personal capacity, and whose wealth was not of their own
making. Those who had borne the heat and burden of the day deemed
themselves the equals and more than equals of those who had loitered
in the shade; and, esteeming men for their own worth and not for that
of some forgotten ancestor, they had come to despise those who toiled
not neither did they spin. Tenaciously the Southerners clung to the
supremacy they had inherited from a bygone age. The contempt of the
Northerner was repaid in kind. In the political arena the struggle
was fierce and keen. Mutual hatred, fanned by unscrupulous agitators,
increased in bitterness; and, hindering reconciliation, rose the
fatal barrier of slavery.

It is true that, prior to 1860, the abolitionists were not numerous
in the North; and it is equally true that by many of the best men in
the South the institution which had been bequeathed to them was
thoroughly detested. Looking back over the years which have elapsed
since the slaves were freed, the errors of the two factions are
sufficiently manifest. If, on the one hand, the abolitionist,
denouncing sternly, in season and out of season, the existence of
slavery on the free soil of America, was unjust and worse to the
slave-owner, who, to say the least, was in no way responsible for the
inhuman and shortsighted policy of a former generation; on the other
hand the high-principled Southerner, although in his heart deploring
the condition of the negro, and sometimes imitating the example of
Washington, whose dying bequest gave freedom to his slaves, made no
attempt to find a remedy.* (* On the publication of the first edition
my views on the action of the abolitionists were traversed by critics
whose opinions demand consideration. They implied that in condemning
the unwisdom and violence of the anti-slavery party, I had not taken
into account the aggressive tendencies of the Southern politicians
from 1850 onwards, that I had ignored the attempts to extend slavery
to the Territories, and that I had overlooked the effect of the
Fugitive Slave Law. A close study of abolitionist literature,
however, had made it very clear to me that the advocates of
emancipation, although actuated by the highest motives, never at any
time approached the question in a conciliatory spirit; and that long
before 1850 their fierce cries for vengeance had roused the very
bitterest feelings in the South. In fact they had already made war
inevitable. Draper, the Northern historian, admits that so early as
1844 "the contest between the abolitionists on one side and the
slave-holders on the other hand had become a mortal duel." It may be
argued, perhaps, that the abolitionists saw that the slave-power
would never yield except to armed force, and that they therefore
showed good judgment in provoking the South into secession and civil
war. But forcing the hand of the Almighty is something more than a
questionable doctrine.)

The latter had the better excuse. He knew, were emancipation granted,
that years must elapse before the negro could be trained to the
responsibilities of freedom, and that those years would impoverish
the South. It appears to have been forgotten by the abolitionists
that all races upon earth have required a protracted probation to fit
them for the rights of citizenship and the duties of free men. Here
was a people, hardly emerged from the grossest barbarism, and
possibly, from the very beginning, of inferior natural endowment, on
whom they proposed to confer the same rights without any probation
whatsoever. A glance at the world around them should have induced
reflection. The experience of other countries was not encouraging.
Hayti, where the blacks had long been masters of the soil, was still
a pandemonium; and in Jamaica and South Africa the precipitate action
of zealous but unpractical philanthropists had wrought incalculable
mischief. Even Lincoln himself, redemption by purchase being
impracticable, saw no other way out of the difficulty than the
wholesale deportation of the negroes to West Africa.

In time, perhaps, under the influence of such men as Lincoln and Lee,
the nation might have found a solution of the problem, and North and
South have combined to rid their common country of the curse of human
servitude. But between fanaticism on the one side and helplessness on
the other there was no common ground. The fierce invectives of the
reformers forbade all hope of temperate discussion, and their
unreasoning denunciations only provoked resentment. And this
resentment became the more bitter because in demanding emancipation,
either by fair means or forcible, and in expressing their intention
of making it a national question, the abolitionists were directly
striking at a right which the people of the South held sacred.

It had never been questioned, hitherto, that the several States of
the Union, so far at least as concerned their domestic institutions,
were each and all of them, under the Constitution, absolutely
self-governing. But the threats which the Black Republicans held out
were tantamount to a proposal to set the Constitution aside. It was
their charter of liberty, therefore, and not only their material
prosperity, which the States that first seceded believed to be
endangered by Lincoln's election. Ignorant of the temper of the great
mass of the Northern people, as loyal in reality to the Constitution
as themselves, they were only too ready to be convinced that the
denunciations of the abolitionists were the first presage of the
storm that was presently to overwhelm them, to reduce their States to
provinces, to wrest from them the freedom they had inherited, and to
make them hewers of wood and drawers of water to the detested
plutocrats of New England.

But the gravamen of the indictment against the Southern people is not
that they seceded, but that they seceded in order to preserve and to
perpetuate slavery; or, to put it more forcibly, that the liberty to
enslave others was the right which most they valued. This charge, put
forward by the abolitionists in order to cloak their own revolt
against the Constitution, is true as regards a certain section, but
as regards the South as a nation it is quite untenable, for
three-fourths of the population derived rather injury than benefit
from the presence in their midst of four million serfs.* (* Of 8.3
million whites in the fifteen slave-holding States, only 346,000 were
slave-holders, and of these 69,000 owned only one negro.) "Had
slavery continued, the system of labour," says General Grant, "would
soon have impoverished the soil and left the country poor. The
non-slave-holder must have left the country, and the small
slave-holder have sold out to his more fortunate neighbour."* (*
Battles and Leaders volume 3 page 689.) The slaves neither bought nor
sold. Their wants were supplied almost entirely by their own labour;
and the local markets of the South would have drawn far larger profit
from a few thousand white labourers than they did from the multitude
of negroes. It is true that a party in the South, more numerous
perhaps among the political leaders than among the people at large,
was averse to emancipation under any form or shape. There were men
who looked upon their bondsmen as mere beasts of burden, more
valuable but hardly more human than the cattle in their fields, and
who would not only have perpetuated but have extended slavery. There
were others who conscientiously believed that the negro was unfit for
freedom, that he was incapable of self-improvement, and that he was
far happier and more contented as a slave. Among these were ministers
of the Gospel, in no small number, who, appealing to the Old
Testament, preached boldly that the institution was of divine origin,
that the coloured race had been created for servitude, and that to
advocate emancipation was to impugn the wisdom of the Almighty.

But there were still others, including many of those who were not
slave-owners, who, while they acquiesced in the existence of an
institution for which they were not personally accountable, looked
forward to its ultimate extinction by the voluntary action of the
States concerned. It was impossible as yet to touch the question
openly, for the invectives and injustice of the abolitionists had so
wrought upon the Southern people, that such action would have been
deemed a base surrender to the dictation of the enemy; but they
trusted to time, to the spread of education, and to a feeling in
favour of emancipation which was gradually pervading the whole
country.* (* There is no doubt that a feeling of aversion to slavery
was fast spreading among a numerous and powerful class in the South.
In Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri the number of slaves was
decreasing, and in Delaware the institution had almost disappeared.)

The opinions of this party, with which, it may be said, the bulk of
the Northern people was in close sympathy,* (* Grant's Memoirs page
214.) are perhaps best expressed in a letter written by Colonel
Robert Lee, the head of one of the oldest families in Virginia, a
large landed proprietor and slave-holder, and the same officer who
had won such well-deserved renown in Mexico. "In this enlightened
age," wrote the future general-in-chief of the Confederate army,
"there are few, I believe, but will acknowledge that slavery as an
institution is a moral and political evil. It is useless to expatiate
on its disadvantages. I think it a greater evil to the white than to
the coloured race, and while my feelings are strongly interested in
the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The
blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa--morally,
socially, and physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing
is necessary for their instruction as a race, and, I hope, will
prepare them for better things. How long their subjection may be
necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their
emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influence
of Christianity than from the storms and contests of fiery
controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and
miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to
convert but a small part of the human race, and even among Christian
nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the
final abolition of slavery is still onward, and we give it the aid of
our prayers and all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the
progress as well as the result in His hands, who sees the end and who
chooses to work by slow things, and with whom a thousand years are
but as a single day. The abolitionist must know this, and must see
that he has neither the right nor the power of operating except by
moral means and suasion; if he means well to the slave, he must not
create angry feelings in the master. Although he may not approve of
the mode by which it pleases Providence to accomplish its purposes,
the result will nevertheless be the same; and the reason he gives for
interference in what he has no concern holds good for every kind of
interference with our neighbours when we disapprove of their conduct."

With this view of the question Jackson was in perfect agreement. "I
am very confident," says his wife, "that he would never have fought
for the sole object of perpetuating slavery...He found the
institution a responsible and troublesome one, and I have heard him
say that he would prefer to see the negroes free, but he believed
that the Bible taught that slavery was sanctioned by the Creator
Himself, who maketh all men to differ, and instituted laws for the
bond and free. He therefore accepted slavery, as it existed in the
South, not as a thing desirable in itself, but as allowed by
Providence for ends which it was not his business to determine."

It may perhaps be maintained that to have had no dealings with "the
accursed thing," and to have publicly advocated some process of
gradual emancipation, would have been the nobler course. But, setting
aside the teaching of the Churches, and the bitter temper of the
time, it should be remembered that slavery, although its hardships
were admitted, presented itself in no repulsive aspect to the people
of the Confederate States. They regarded it with feelings very
different from those of the abolitionists, whose acquaintance with
the condition they reprobated was small in the extreme. The lot of
the slaves, the Southerners were well aware, was far preferable to
that of the poor and the destitute of great cities, of the victims of
the sweater and the inmates of fever dens. The helpless negro had
more hands to succour him in Virginia than the starving white man in
New England. The children of the plantation enjoyed a far brighter
existence than the children of the slums. The worn and feeble were
maintained by their masters, and the black labourer, looking forward
to an old age of ease and comfort among his own people, was more
fortunate than many a Northern artisan. Moreover, the brutalities
ascribed to the slave-owners as a class were of rare occurrence. The
people of the South were neither less humane nor less moral than the
people of the North or of Europe, and it is absolutely inconceivable
that men of high character and women of gentle nature should have
looked with leniency on cruelty, or have failed to visit the offender
with something more than reprobation. Had the calumnies* (* Uncle
Tom's Cabin to wit.) which were scattered broadcast by the
abolitionists possessed more than a vestige of truth, men like Lee
and Jackson would never have remained silent. In the minds of the
Northern people slavery was associated with atrocious cruelty and
continual suffering. In the eyes of the Southerners, on the other
hand, it was associated with great kindness and the most affectionate
relations between the planters and their bondsmen. And if the
Southerners were blind, it is most difficult to explain the
remarkable fact that throughout the war, although thousands of
plantations and farms, together with thousands of women and children,
all of whose male relatives were in the Confederate armies, were left
entirely to the care of the negroes, both life and property were
perfectly secure.

Such, then, was the attitude of the South towards slavery. The
institution had many advocates, uncompromising and aggressive, but
taking the people as a whole it was rather tolerated than approved;
and, even if no evidence to the contrary were forthcoming, we should
find it hard to believe that a civilised community would have plunged
into revolution in order to maintain it. There can be no question but
that secession was revolution; and revolutions, as has been well
said, are not made for the sake of "greased cartridges." To bring
about such unanimity of purpose as took possession of the whole
South, such passionate loyalty to the new Confederacy, such intense
determination to resist coercion to the bitter end, needed some
motive of unusual potency, and the perpetuation of slavery was not a
sufficient motive. The great bulk of the population neither owned
slaves nor was connected with those who did; many favoured
emancipation; and the working men, a rapidly increasing class, were
distinctly antagonistic to slave-labour. Moreover, the Southerners
were not only warmly attached to the Union, which they had done so
much to establish, but their pride in their common country, in its
strength, its prestige, and its prosperity, was very great. Why,
then, should they break away? History supplies us with a pertinent

Previous to 1765 the honour of England was dear to the people of the
American colonies. King George had no more devoted subjects; his
enemies no fiercer foes. And yet it required very little to reverse
the scroll. The right claimed by the Crown to tax the colonists
hardly menaced their material prosperity. A few shillings more or
less would neither have added to the burdens nor have diminished the
comforts of a well-to-do and thrifty people, and there was some
justice in the demand that they should contribute to the defence of
the British Empire. But the demand, as formulated by the Government,
involved a principle which they were unwilling to admit, and in
defence of their birthright as free citizens they flew to arms. So,
in defence of the principle of States' Rights the Southern people
resolved upon secession with all its consequences.

It might be said, however, that South Carolina and her sister States
seceded under the threat of a mere faction; that there was nothing in
the attitude of the Federal Government to justify the apprehension
that the Constitution would be set aside; and that their action,
therefore, was neither more nor less than rank rebellion. But,
whether their rights had been infringed or not, a large majority of
the Southern people believed that secession, at any moment and for
any cause, was perfectly legitimate. The several States of the Union,
according to their political creed, were each and all of them
sovereign and independent nations. The Constitution, they held, was
nothing more than a treaty which they had entered into for their own
convenience, and which, in the exercise of their sovereign powers,
individually or collectively, they might abrogate when they pleased.
This interpretation was not admitted in the North, either by
Republicans or Democrats; yet there was nothing in the letter of the
Constitution which denied it, and as regards the spirit of that
covenant North and South held opposite opinions. But both were
perfectly sincere, and in leaving the Union, therefore, and in
creating for themselves a new government, the people of the seceding
States considered that they were absolutely within their right.* (*
For an admirable statement of the Southern doctrine, see Ropes'
History of the Civil War volume 1 chapter 1.)

It must be admitted, at the same time, that the action of the States
which first seceded was marked by a petulant haste; and it is only
too probable that the people of these States suffered themselves to
be too easily persuaded that the North meant mischief. It is
impossible to determine how far the professional politician was
responsible for the Civil War. But when we recall the fact that
secession followed close on the overthrow of a faction which had long
monopolised the spoils of office, and that this faction found
compensation in the establishment of a new government, it is not easy
to resist the suspicion that the secession movement was neither more
nor less than a conspiracy, hatched by a clever and unscrupulous

It would be unwise, however, to brand the whole, or even the
majority, of the Southern leaders as selfish and unprincipled. Unless
he has real grievances on which to work, or unless those who listen
to him are supremely ignorant, the mere agitator is powerless; and it
is most assuredly incredible that seven millions of Anglo-Saxons, and
Anglo-Saxons of the purest strain--English, Lowland Scottish, and
North Irish--should have been beguiled by silver tongues of a few
ambitious or hare-brained demagogues. The latter undoubtedly had a
share in bringing matters to a crisis. But the South was ripe for
revolution long before the presidential election. The forces which
were at work needed no artificial impulse to propel them forward. It
was instinctively recognised that the nation had outgrown the
Constitution; and it was to this, and not to the attacks upon
slavery, that secession was really due. The North had come to regard
the American people as one nation, and the will of the majority as
paramount.* (* "The Government had been Federal under the Articles of
Confederation (1781), but the [Northern] people quickly recognised
that that relation was changing under the Constitution (1789). They
began to discern that the power they thought they had delegated was
in fact surrendered, and that henceforth no single State could meet
the general Government as sovereign and equal." Draper's History of
the American Civil War volume 1 page 286.) The South, on the other
hand, holding, as it had always held, that each State was a nation in
itself, denied in toto that the will of the majority, except in
certain specified cases, had any power whatever; and where political
creeds were in such direct antagonism no compromise was possible.
Moreover, as the action of the abolitionists very plainly showed,
there was a growing tendency in the North to disregard altogether the
rights of the minority. Secession, in fact, was a protest against mob
rule. The weaker community, hopeless of maintaining its most
cherished principles within the Union, was ready to seize the first
pretext for leaving it; and the strength of the popular sentiment may
be measured by the willingness of every class, gentle and simple,
rich and poor, to risk all and to suffer all, in order to free
themselves from bonds which must soon have become unbearable. It is
always difficult to analyse the motives of those by whom revolution
is provoked; but if a whole people acquiesce, it is a certain proof
of the existence of universal apprehension and deep-rooted
discontent. The spirit of self-sacrifice which animated the
Confederate South has been characteristic of every revolution which
has been the expression of a nation's wrongs, but it has never yet
accompanied mere factious insurrection.

When, in process of time, the history of Secession comes to be viewed
with the same freedom from prejudice as the history of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it will be clear that the
fourth great Revolution of the English-speaking race differs in no
essential characteristic from those which preceded it. It was not
simply because the five members were illegally impeached in 1642, the
seven bishops illegally tried in 1688, men shot at Lexington in 1775,
or slavery threatened in 1861, that the people rose. These were the
occasions, not the causes of revolt. In each case a great principle
was at stake: in 1642 the liberty of the subject; in 1688 the
integrity of the Protestant faith; in 1775 taxation only with consent
of the taxed; in 1861 the sovereignty of the individual States.* (*
It has been remarked that States' Rights, as a political principle,
cannot be placed on the same plane as those with which it is here
grouped. History, however, proves conclusively that, although it may
be less vital to the common weal, the right of self-government is
just as deeply cherished. A people that has once enjoyed independence
can seldom be brought to admit that a Union with others deprives it
of the prerogatives of sovereignty, and it would seem that the
treatment of this instinct of nationality is one of the most delicate
and important tasks of statesmanship.)

The accuracy of this statement, as already suggested, has been
consistently denied. That the only principle involved in Secession
was the establishment of slavery on a firmer basis, and that the cry
of States' Rights was raised only by way of securing sympathy, is a
very general opinion. But before it can be accepted, it is necessary
to make several admissions; first, that the Southerners were
absolutely callous to the evils produced by the institution they had
determined to make permanent; second, that they had persuaded
themselves, in face of the tendencies of civilisation, that it was
possible to make it permanent; and third, that they conscientiously
held their progress and prosperity to be dependent on its continued
existence. Are we to believe that the standard of morals and
intelligence was so low as these admissions would indicate? Are we to
believe that if they had been approached in a charitable spirit, that
if the Republican party, disclaiming all right of interference, had
offered to aid them in substituting, by some means which would have
provided for the control of the negro and, at the same time, have
prevented an entire collapse of the social fabric, a system more
consonant with humanity, the Southerners would have still preferred
to leave the Union, and by creating a great slave-power earn the
execration of the Christian world?

Unless the South be credited with an unusual measure of depravity and
of short-sightedness, the reply can hardly be in the affirmative. And
if it be otherwise, there remains but one explanation of the conduct
of the seceding States--namely the dread that if they remained in the
Union they would not be fairly treated.

It is futile to argue that the people were dragooned into secession
by the slave-holders. What power had the slave-holders over the great
mass of the population, over the professional classes, over the small
farmer, the mechanic, the tradesman, the labourer? Yet it is
constantly asserted by Northern writers, although the statement is
virtually an admission that only the few were prepared to fight for
slavery, that the Federal sentiment was so strong among the
Southerners that terrorism must have had a large share in turning
them into Separatists. The answer, putting aside the very patent fact
that the Southerner was not easily coerced, is very plain.
Undoubtedly, throughout the South there was much affection for the
Union; but so in the first Revolution there was much loyalty to the
Crown, and yet it has never been asserted that the people of Virginia
or of New England were forced into sedition against their will. The
truth is that there were many Southerners who, in the vain hope of
compromise, would have postponed the rupture; but when the right of
secession was questioned, and the right of coercion was proclaimed,
all differences of opinion were swept away, and the people,
thenceforward, were of one heart and mind. The action of Virginia is
a striking illustration.

The great border State, the most important of those south of Mason
and Dixon's line, was not a member of the Confederacy when the
Provisional Government was established at Montgomery. Nor did the
secession movement secure any strong measure of approval. In fact,
the people of Virginia, owing to their closer proximity to, and to
their more intimate knowledge of, the North, were by no means
inclined to make of the Black Republican President the bugbear he
appeared to the States which bordered on the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst
acknowledging that the South had grievances, they saw no reason to


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