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class that the clock in front of the Institute was not correct, and declared his intention to ascertain, by scientific means, the exact time. He accordingly marched out to the parade-ground, with the class at his heels, and proceeded, by means of his instruments, to take an observation. The result was amusing and delightful to the cadet-heart. He finished his work about halfpast twelve in the day, and to his profound astonishment discovered that it was nearly seven in the evening ! The cadets set up a shout, and after looking around him with incredulous surprise for some moments, Jackson joined in the general laughter. It was soon discovered that the instruments were out of order, but the cadets did not suffer this fact to lessen their appreciation of the joke. One of the few exhibitions of a tendency to humor which we find in Jackson's whole career occurred at this period. The reader will not be troubled with many similar incidents, and we give the anecdote here. One morning in 1858 he called up a member of the graduating class, and with profound gravity propounded the following scientific question: “Why is it impossible to send a telegraphic despatch from Lexington to Staunton?” The cadet reflected for some moments, and then replied that the explanation of this phenomenon doubtless lay in the fact that the amount of iron ore in the mountain drew the magnetic current from the wires. A covert smile touched upon Jackson's features; fled away, and he said: “No, sir; you can take your seat.” Another was called up, but he too failed to explain the mystery. A second, then a third were equally unsuccessful— Jackson listening to their theories with profound attention, but with the same sly smile which had greeted the first solution. This smile, probably, attracted the attention of the next cadet who was called, and threw a sudden light upon the subject. His countenance lit up ; his lip broke into a smile in return, and he said:
“Well, Major Jackson, I reckon it must be because there is no telegraph between the two places.” “You are right, sir,” replied Jackson, who had suddenly renewed his composed expression. “You can take your seat.” An outburst of laughter from the class greeted this passage of arms in which the Professor was overthrown, but the unwonted display of humor had apparently exhausted Jackson's appreciation of the quality for the time. He called the class to order, and calmly continued the subject of the recitation as if nothing had happened. We give this incident upon good authority. It is the first and last attempt at a practical joke which we find in Jackson's life. Another incident of his dealings with the cadets is an illustration of the quiet courage of the man, and disregard of personal consequences where duty was concerned. He had brought charges against a cadet, who was tried and dismissed from the Institute. Burning with resentment, the young man declared his intention to take Jackson's life, and arming himself took his position on the road from Lexington to the Institute, over which he knew the Professor would pass on his way to meet his class. A friend had overheard the youth express his bloody intention, and hastening to warn Jackson, met him on the road, and informed him of his danger, strongly urging him to turn back. To turn back, however, was to neglect his recitations on that day, and to hold his recitations was a part of his duty. He peremptorily refused to retrace his steps, and with the cold and stern reply, “Let the assassin murder me if he will.” continued his way. As he approached the spot indicated, he saw the young man standing and awaiting him. He turned and gazed fixedly at him with that look which had fronted, unmoved, the most terrible scenes of carnage upon many battle-fields. The youth could not sustain it; he lowered his eyes, and, turning away in silence, left the spot, while Jackson calmly pursued his way. We have here placed upon record, with such illustrations as we could collect, the traits of character which distinguished
Jackson at this period of his life. One other which is mentioned by a recent biographer should be noticed—the strength of his memory. “In the section room,” says “An ex-Cadet,” “he would sit perfectly erect and motionless, listening with grave attention, and exhibiting the great powers of his wonderful memory, which was, I think, the most remarkable that ever came under my observation. The course that he taught was the most difficult and complicated known to mathematics, running through at least half a dozen text-books. In listening to a recitation he rarely used a book. He was ready at any moment to refer to any page or line in any of the books, and then to repeat with perfect accuracy the most difficult passages that could be referred to.”
Such was Jackson at Lexington; a stiff, earnest, military figure—artillery officer turned professor: stern in his bearing, eccentric in his habits, peculiar in many of his views, leading a life of alternate activity in the section room and abstraction in the study, independent, devoted to duty, deeply religious in sentiment, and notable in person, deportment, and character for an undoubted originality. The eccentric figure was as well known in Lexington as that of the “Iron Duke,” raising the finger to his hat, and uttering his curt greeting in the streets of London. As years wore on his character was better understood—his merit more fully recognized. We may doubt Colonel Smith's assertion that at the breaking out of the present war, “the spontaneous sentiment of every cadet and graduate was to serve under him as their leader,” but there is good reason to believe that he had strongly impressed great numbers of persons with a conviction of his soldierly qualities—his good judgment, impartiality, perseverance, courage, and knowledge of the profession of arms.
Thus passed the years, almost without incident with Jackson—month following month, with little to distinguish one from another. The death of his first wife; his second marriage; a brief visit which he made to Europe in 1858, and his march to Charlestown, Virginia, in command of the cadet battery, in 1859, during the John Brown agitation, are the only events which seem to have interrupted the monotony of his daily duties. The loss of his wife must have been a heavy blow to a man of so much depth and earnestness of feeling, but we have no private records connected with that event. His tour in Europe is equally a blank. We only know that in 1858 he obtained a furlough of three months from the Board of Visitors, which he spent in European travel. The tour was brief and rapid, and we can trace from it no influences upon his life or character. At the expiration of his leave of absence he was back in his accustomed place, dressed in his accustomed uniform, and calmly pursuing his recitations, his artillery drills, and his scientific studies. His life had thus flowed on, almost without a ripple on the serene surface. He was a sentinel on duty, whose “beat” was between his study and his recitation-room. The ardent young soldier had settled down into the serious professor, drilling military and scientific knowledge into the minds of youth, and content in this sphere of usefulness to forget all the dreams of ambition. Had not the recent struggle called him to the field once more, it is almost certain that he would have grown gray in his professor's chair, and died unknown. But such a tranquil life and death was not to be the fate of Jackson. His early manhood had been passed in the hot atmosphere of battle, and amid the roar of artillery and small arms: that stormy music had saluted his youthful ears, and was to thunder round him on many a hard-fought field in a fiercer contest than any of the past; and with the solemn diapason rolling in the distance still, his spirit was to pass away.
THE causes which led to the late war are too well known to require any notice here. Other considerations operate to deter the writer from entering upon the subject. A brief summary would be too little, and a full discussion too much. South Carolina seceded on the 20th December, 1860, and by the 1st of February, 1861, she had been joined in the order named by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Military movements had begun at many points, and the formal collision was rapidly approaching. Early in February, Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, was elected President of the Confederate States, and on the 13th of April Fort Sumter surrendered to General Beauregard. On the next day, April 14, 1861, President Lincoln issued his proclamation calling upon the States for 75,000 men, to enforce obedience to the United States authority in the seceded States. This proclamation decided the course of Virginia. She had long delayed her decision, from an almost unconquerable repugnance to a dissolution of the Union, and the inauguration of a bloody civil war, which must desolate her own territory more than that of any other State; and, in the Convention, then sitting at Richmond, the advocates of secession had hitherto found themselves opposed by a majority which nothing seemed able to overcome. This large party were in favor of mediating between the extremes, and believed themselves competent to arrange the differences by Peace Commissioners, and an appeal to the old kindly feeling of both sections. In April, however, it began to be plainly seen that these hopes were illusory. The Commissioners returned from Washington without attaining any results, and the proclamation of the President of the United States calling for troops to act against the South, speedily followed.