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nel was a strong contrast to all this. He rode an old horse who seemed to have little of the romance of war about him, and nothing at all fine in his equipment. His seat in the saddle was far from graceful; he leaned forward awkwardly; settled his chin from time to time in his lofty military stock, and looked from side to side, from beneath the low rim of his cadet cap, in a manner which the risible faculties of the correspondent could not resist. A queerer figure, and one which answered less to the idea of military grace, had never before dawned on the attention of the literary gentleman who sketched it for the amusement of the Southern reader. The sketch was not inaccurate in the main particulars. Such was not a bad description of the figure which the troops scanned curiously as he passed to and fro on duty; and those who distrusted the ability of this silent and phlegmatic personage to command the forces, had their views apparently confirmed soon afterwards. On the 23d of May, General Joseph E. Johnston, formerly of the United States Army, and an officer of tried ability and courage, arrived, and took command of all the troops at Harper's Ferry. Jackson was assigned to the command of a brigade of infantry, composed of four regiments of Virginians. The Federal authorities had meanwhile called for additional troops, and did not seem to share the opinion of the leading Northern journals, which predicted an early and almost bloodless termination of the war. “The nations of Europe,” said one of these journals, “may rest assured that Jeff. Davis and Co. will be swinging from the battlements of Washington, at least by the Fourth of July. We spit upon a later and longer-deferred justice.” Another said: “Let us make quick work. The “rebellion,’ as some people designate it, is an unborn tadpole. Let us not fall into the delusion noticed by Hallam, of mistaking a ‘local commotion’ for a revolution. A strong, active “pull together will do our work effectually in thirty days. We have only to send a column of 25,000 men across the Potomac, to Richmond, and burn out the rats there; another column of 25,000 to Cairo, seizing the cotton ports of the Mississippi, and retaining the remaining 25,000 included in Mr. Lincoln's call for 75,000 men, at Washington, not because there is any need for them there, but because we do not require their services elsewhere.” A third said: “No man of sense can for a moment doubt that this much-ado-about-nothing will end in a month. The rebels, a mere band of ragamuffins, will fly like chaff before the wind on our approach.” “Let the East get out of the way,” said a fourth, “this is a war of the West. We can fight the battle and successfully, within two or three months at the furthest. Illinois can whip the South by herself. We insist on the matter being turned over to us.” A fifth said: “The rebellion will be crushed out before the assemblage of Congress—not a doubt of it.” The impression of the journals from which we have taken the above extracts differed widely from the apparent conviction of the Federal Executive. As early as the 3d of May, President Lincoln called for 40,000 additional infantry volunteers, 18,000 seamen, and ten more regiments for the regular army, then being concentrated around Washington. This would place at his disposal about 150,000 troops, and this force was evidently the very least number possible, to carry out the plan of the Government. This plan—devised, it is said, by Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, commanding the Armies of the United States —was, to send one column to seize upon the Valley of the Mississippi, another to enter Kentucky and crush the rising spirit of rebellion there, and a third to capture Richmond, and paralyze the Confederate power in Virginia. With a strict blockade of the Southern ports, these steps, it was supposed, would terminate the Southern movement. Virginia was to be invaded in four directions—from Fortress Monroe up the Peninsula, between the James and York Rivers; from Alexandria by way of Manassas and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to Gordonsville; from Williamsport up the Valley of the Shenandoah; and from the northwest toward Staunton. These four columns were to move at the same time, and, converging upon Richmond, take that city, reduce Virginia under the Federal sway again, and then, uniting with the columns in Kentucky and the Mississippi Valley, penetrate to the heart of the Confederacy, and dictate terms at Montgomery where it had originated.
It remained to be seen whether the able soldiers in command of the Confederate forces would permit this plan of operations to be carried out. The question of the time necessary to subdue the Southern movement—upon which Lieutenant-General Scott and the editors differed so widely—was, after all, to be decided by Johnston and Beauregard.
THE Valley of the Shenandoah, where Jackson's most celebrated military movements took place, is that portion of Virginia lying between the Blue Ridge and North Mountains, and extending from the headwaters of the Shenandoah near Staunton to the Potomac.
The region has been called with propriety the “Garden of Virginia; ” and a Southern writer, in a rapture of admiration at its beauties of field and forest, mountain and river, describes it as a veritable Arcadia, realizing the most fanciful dreams of the elder poets. In the last century we find an English traveller, Burnaby, revelling in animated pictures of the splendid landscape which he looked upon from a spur of the Blue Ridge:– the pellucid waters of the Shenandoah, skirted by tall trees, with drooping foliage, the chamoedaphnes in full bloom, and burdening the air with fragrance; the mighty forests and smiling fields; the delicious climate; and the Eden-like happiness of those who, far from the bustle, the cares, and the anxieties of the worn-out world of Europe, here lived, in the midst of a lovely land, a life of freedom and tranquillity unknown to princes.
This beautiful and fruitful region was worthy of protection for its own sake, for its patriotic inhabitants, its large slave population, and for the rich supplies which its fertile fields contained. But it was also exceedingly important, in a military point of view, that it should be held by a Confederate force, and no part of it surrendered to the occupation of the enemy. A glance at the map of the State will show the justice of this statement. It will be seen that no portion of the region could be given up, without serious detriment to military operations north of Richmond; and that possession of the upper valley would enable an enemy to cut off the Confederate communication with the Southwest, and strike a dangerous blow at the capital.
It was especially important at this time—May, 1861—that not a foot of ground in the lower valley should be surrendered. Winchester, the key of the region, was essential to the Confederates, and this central point was entirely undefended by fortifications of any description. The town was less than thirty miles from the Potomac ; and excellent turnpike roads converged toward it from Romney, Martinsburg, Sheppardstown, Charlestown, and Berryville, like the fingers of an open hand. Over these roads, the Federal force, reported to be near Romney and Williamsport, could easily advance with their trains and artillery; and Winchester once in their possession, the effect would have been disastrous in the extreme. A short march through the Blue Ridge, at Snicker's, Ashby's, or Manassas Gaps, would cnable them to take Manassas Junction in flank and reverse, assail the Confederate force there at an enormous advantage, and either force it to fight upon terms which they dictated, or fall back to the line of the Rappahannock.
Thus, to give up Winchester was to abandon not only that portion of the valley with its rich resources and loyal inhabitants, but to yield possession of the whole extent of country east of the Blue Ridge, and north of Fredericksburg. The Federal forces would have poured into this smiling region, established themselves firmly throughout the entire “northern neck,” and almost without fighting, achieved a position for future opera