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deep bass drum beats taps—the sounds die out in all the camps, save at times the sweet strains from the band of the 5th Stonewall regiment in a neighboring grove, till they too fade away into the stilly night, and soon—
‘The soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
During these days Jackson had his headquarters near Bunker's Hill, and was often seen moving to and fro among his troops on his old sorrel horse, with the old uniform. He was always greeted with cheers by his men, and the phrase, “Jackson or a rabbit,” became universal in alluding to these gay sounds heard in the distance. A hundred anecdotes were told, a hundred witticisms attributed to him. In Martinsburg, where the ladies crowded around him, he said: “Ladies, this is the first time I was ever surrounded;” in spite of which, says a letter-writer, “they cut every button off his coat, commenced on his pants, and at one time threatened to leave him in the uniform of a Georgia colonel—shirt-collar and spurs.” After Sharpsburg, an old and hardened offender in D. H. Hill's division was brought before that commander for burning fence-rails; and despairing of producing any reform in him, General Hill sent him to Jackson, who asked him why he persisted in burning rails. “Well, General,” returned the reprobate, “you see I’ve been enlisted eight months now in General Hill's division, and in all that time I never could get a good look at you, so I thought I would steal some fence-rails; I knew they would take me up and then send me to you, so I would see you.” A grim smile greeted this impudent excuse, and reading his
man at a glance, Jackson turned to an orderly and said:
“Take this man and buck him, and set him on the top of that empty barrel in front of my tent. The front is open, and he can look at me as much as he likes.” The order was obeyed to the letter, and for several hours, while Jackson was engaged upon his official correspondence, the rail-destroyer had an excellent opportunity of gratifying his curiosity. This and the incident related by Colonel Ford at Harper's Ferry, with a hundred other anecdotes, true or imaginary, were repeated by the men, and “Old Jack,” a name by which the General had become universally known among his troops, became immensely popular. We have already set forth the more solid grounds of popularity with the best men of his command, but these anecdotes made him a prime favorite with the mass of the troops. Certain it is that Jackson was never more popular than after the Maryland campaign; and this doubtless arose, in very great measure, from the huge satisfaction which his corps experienced in having secured the really solid results of the movement, in the capture of Harper's Ferry, with the great number of prisoners, small-arms, and pieces of artillery. The writer of these pages scanned curiously in those days the appearance of the soldier, with whose praises the whole land was ringing. He wore his dingy old uniform, and cavalry boots, but the ladies of Martinsburg had robbed him not only of his buttons but his old cap. The individual in the tall black hat, with the brim turned down, quaker-wise all round, scarcely seemed to be the veritable Stonewall Jackson. But greater changes still were to ensue in his personal appearance. Prompted by admiration, regard, or the desire to clothe in more imposing garb the simple soldier, a distinguished officer, long united to him by the ties of affection and the recollection of many arduous toils in common, gave him a new coat, whose wreath and staff buttons appear in the engraving in front of this volume. It was suggested by one to whom the question was propounded whether Jackson would relish this present, that the soldier would undoubtedly appreciate such an evidence of regard, accept the coat and put it away carefully in his trunk, not daring to wear it for fear of the indignation of his old brigade and their comrades. But this prediction was falsified; Jackson was highly pleased with his coat, and he wore it on the hot day of Fredericksburg. He was an object at this time of great curiosity in the region; and was warmly greeted by those who had known Colonel Jackson of the days of Falling Waters, and regarded him as a son of the Valley. The ladies were far more enthusiastic about him than about the youngest and handsomest generals of the army: and at the announcement that “General Jackson was coming,” they would put on their finest silks, and pay as much attention to their toilets as if he had been the most imposing and gallant of Lovelaces, instead of a modest gentleman who preferred old ladies in black silk; never knew what anybody wore, and blushed at the wishes expressed by young ladies to kiss him. Upon one occasion when Generals Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Longstreet dined at a hospitable house on the Opequon, not far from Leetown, the lady of the mansion declared that it was like the famous breakfast at the Castle of Tillietudlem, and that General Lee's chair should be marked and remembered; but it was said that General Jackson had been regaled with the choicest portions of the banquet, and that for him she arrayed herself in her best silk and assumed her most winning smiles. It was at this period that Jackson displayed a trait of character for which few gave him credit. When General Stuart made his raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania in October, Jackson expressed the liveliest regret that he had not been able to accompany him, as a private and amateur cavalryman of the expedition. He betrayed on this occasion a longing for excitement and action which seemed foreign to the character of the pious and collected soldier; but nothing is more certain than that this love of active movement, danger, and adventure, was a prominent trait in his organization. But the days were hurrying on. General McClellan still threatened Lee's front, and as the month of October glided away, carrying off the gorgeous trappings of the forest, and the brilliant sunshine of the autumn days, the Federal authorities were evidently preparing for another advance into Virginia. Jackson remained in the vicinity of Bunker Hill, ready to strike their advancing column if they attempted to move upon Winchester; and he and his veteran corps still rested, before entering upon other bloody scenes of conflict.
THE aim of this volume is to present an outline of the events of Jackson's life; and the narrative is thus confined to the field of operations in Virginia. The crowding incidents of the war in other portions of the country are no part of our subject; and in like manner all discussions of political occurrences may with propriety be omitted. The historian of the future will sum up and make his comments on the whole struggle; our part is to follow the steps of Jackson.
We thus pass over the campaigns of the West, and those political movements, at both capitals, which marked the autumn of 1862. Our attention will continue to be directed to the movements of the two great adversaries who confronted each other on the banks of the Potomac.
Both armies were resting after the exhausting campaign terminating on the field of Sharpsburg. But the bright days of October were not suffered to glide away without attempts on the part of each commander to beat up the quarters of his opponent. This policy was inaugurated by Major-General J. E. B. Stuart, in one of those raids which had so greatly annoyed the enemy on the Chickahominy, at Catlett's, and elsewhere. At daylight on the morning of the 10th of October, General Stuart, with 1,800 men and four pieces of horse artillery, crossed the Potomac between Williamsport and Hancock; proceeded by a rapid march to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, which he reached at dark on the same day; captured the place; destroyed the machine shops and railroad buildings, containing large numbers of arms and other public stores; and on the next morning marched toward Frederick City. The character of the country above made it dangerous to attempt the recrossing of the Potomac in that direction, and Stuart had taken the bold resolution of passing entirely around the Federal army, and cutting his way through to and across the ford near Leesburg. This design was executed with great skill and nerve. Moving with the utmost rapidity, he reached Hyattstown below Frederick at daylight on the morning of the 12th, and pushing on toward Poolesville, found that the road in that direction was barred by General Stoneman with about 5,000 troops, and that railroad trains were standing ready, with steam up, and loaded with infantry, to move instantly to the point where he attempted to cross. These formidable preparations, however, failed in their object. Turning short to the right, and thus leaving Poolesville to his left, Stuart continued to advance with rapidity toward the Potomac, and reaching a point opposite White's ford, opened on the enemy's infantry with his artillery, advanced his dismounted sharpshooters, and charging their cavalry, cut his way through and crossed the river, greeting their reserves as they rushed forward to harass his rear, with a discharge from the guns of Pelham from the southern bank. This dangerous expedition had thus been successfully accomplished. General McClellan had made elaborate dispositions to intercept Stuart on his return, and says in his report: “After the orders were given for covering all the fords upon the river, I did not think it possible for Stuart to recross, and I believed that the destruction or capture of his entire force was perfectly certain; but owing to the fact that my orders were not in all cases carried out as I expected, he effected his escape into Virginia without much loss.” Stuart did not lose a man. Such was the excellent good fortune of the expedition, which