Report of Stonewall Jackson on the Battle of Cedar Mountain

 

 

On August 9, 1862, Stonewall Jackson, spearheading General Lee’s offensive against General John Pope’s hastily assembled Army of Virginia.  At Cedar Mountain in Culpepper County Virginia he attack his old Valley adversary General Nathaniel Banks, known affectionately by Confederates as Commissary Banks due to the fact that forces under his command usually were whipped and Confederates then feasted on the captured supplies of his defeated forces.  Banks commanded 8,000 men and Jackson had 16,000.  Banks and his men, surprisingly, put up a good fight and Jackson’s victory was hard fought.  Here is Jackson’s report which he submitted on April 4, 1863, paperwork tacking a back seat to all the fighting which occurred between Cedar Mountain and April 4, 1863: (more…)

Rebel Yell

I have been listening lately as I drive about to an audio book, Rebel Yell:  The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson  by SC Gwynne.    I purchased the audio book with a bit of diffidence since I have been studying Jackson for a half century now, and I thought I had little to learn about him, either as a man or as a general.  I was wrong.  In  brilliantly written prose Gwynne has given me a better understanding of the evolution of Jackson throughout his life as both a human being and a soldier.  Jackson in many ways was an odd duck.  Often harsh and unyielding in matters of either military discipline or violations of his strict beliefs of right and wrong, Jackson was unfailingly kind and sweet in his personal relations with almost all the people he encountered in this Vale of Tears.

Most of us can act very differently under different circumstances, but Jackson was almost a different person depending upon how a person encountered him.  As a general he could be a martinet who would refuse a subordinate during the Valley Campaign time to go to the bedside of his dying children, explaining that the needs of the service must always come first.  However, he could then surrender his bed to a subordinate officer he did not like when he learned that the man was unwell.  He shot men out of hand for desertion following swift military trials, and he could weep like a child upon learning of the death of a child he had known from Scarlet Fever.  Suggesting at the beginning of the War that the Confederacy should raise the Black Flag and take no prisoners of invaders from the North, during the War he allowed Union surgeons to continue treating captured Union wounded and then freed them to return to their own lines.  Ostensibly a man fighting to help the South preserve slavery, he founded a Sunday school for blacks in the teeth of resistance in his home town and taught blacks to read in violation of Virginia state law.  A grim religious warrior who would have been at home in the ranks of Cromwell’s Ironsides during the English Civil War, he became a good friend of General Jeb Stuart, the embodiment of the Cavalier legend of the South.  Complex has always been a word that pops into my mind when I think of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, and Gwynne holds up to the readers all of these contradictory facets of Jackson and manages the considerable feat of making his readers see the whole man behind them. (more…)

Published in: on December 1, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Stonewall Jim

stonewall jim

 

 

In 1852 a cadet challenged Professor Thomas Jonathan Jackson to a duel.  A brilliant student, the cadet had been expelled from the Virginia Military Institute due to charges brought against him by Professor Jackson alleging classroom disobedience.  Enraged the cadet challenged him to a duel and threatened that if Jackson would not fight him in a duel he would seek him out and kill him.  Jackson was not going to fight a duel with a cadet and considered taking out a restraining order.  However, the former cadet,  James Alexander Walker, eventually calmed down and went on with his life.  He studied law at the University of Virginia and began practicing law.  He married and he and his wife would eventually have six children.  Then the war came.

Enlisting in the Confederate army as a captain, he quickly was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and then Colonel of the 13th Virginia.  The 13th Virginia served in the Valley Campaign under now General Thomas Jonathan Jackson.  Jackson admired the courage and discipline of the cadet that had been dismissed from VMI due to his charges, which Walker regarded Jackson as a military genius and the ideal commander.  On his deathbed, Jackson recommended that Walker be promoted to general and given command of his old unit, the elite Stonewall Brigade.

Called Stonewall Jim by his troops, Walker led the brigade from Gettysburg to Spotsylvania where he was severely wounded.  Late in the war he commanded a division in the Second Corps.

After the war he had an illustrious career at both the bar and in politics.  He served in the Virginia legislature as a Democrat, eventually being elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  In 1893 he switched to the Republican party and served two terms in Congress, being defeated in a hotly contested election for a third term.  At a deposition over the election results, he was shot and wounded.  Nothing dismayed, he ran against his opponent again and lost again in 1900.  He died in 1901. (more…)

Published in: on November 17, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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May 10, 1863: Let Us Pass Over the River and Rest Under the Shade of the Trees

“I have but to show him my design, and I know that if it can be done it will be done.  Straight as the needle to the pole he advances to the execution of my purpose.”

Robert E. Lee on Stonewall Jackson

Of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, nicknamed Stonewall by General Barnard Bee at the battle of Bull Run, it was said he lived by the New Testament and fought by the Old.  Certainly throughout his life he was a convinced Christian.  As a young man he would attend services of various Christian denominations.  In Mexico, during his service in the Mexican War, he attended mass, although he did not convert to Catholicism.  Instead he eventually became a Presbyterian.  His Bible was his constant companion, and he would often speak of God and theological matters in private conversation.

Jackson in his professional life was a soldier.  Just before the Civil War he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy (science) and artillery instruction at the Virginia Military Institute.  As a teacher he made a good soldier.  His lectures were rather dry.  If his students seemed to fail to grasp a lecture, he would repeat it the next day, word for word.

His home life was a mixture of sorrow and joy.  His first wife died in childbirth along with their still-born son, a tragedy that would have crushed many a man less iron-willed than  Jackson.  His second marriage, like his first, was happy, but heartache also haunted it.  A daughter died shortly after birth in 1858.  A second daughter was born in 1862, Julia, shortly before Jackson’s own death in 1863.  His wife would spend a widowhood of 52 years, dedicated to raising their daughter, cherishing the memory of her husband, and helping destitute Confederate veterans.  For her good works she became known as the Widow of the Confederacy.  Their daughter Julia would marry and have children before her early death of typhoid fever at age 26.  Her two children had several children and there are many living descendants of Jackson.

He and his second wife established and taught a Sunday school for black slaves.  At the time it was against the law in Virginia to teach slaves to read, but apparently that is precisely what Jackson and his wife did.   One of the last letters he ever posted was his regular contribution he mailed off throughout the war for the financial support of the Sunday school for slaves he and his wife had founded. (more…)

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Stonewall Jackson’s Way

“And Thou knowest O Lord, when Thou didst decide that the Confederacy should not succeed, Thou hadst first to remove thy servant, Stonewall Jackson.”

Father D. Hubert, Chaplain, Hay’s Louisiana Brigade, upon the dedication of the statue of Stonewall Jackson on May 10, 1881 in New Orleans

Something for the weekend.  After the 150th anniversary of Chancellorsville only Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, seems appropriate.  The song is a fitting evocation of the man, who, if he had not been mortally wounded at Chancellorsville, might well have with Lee brought about a war ending victory for the Confederacy at Gettysburg.  I fully agree with Father Hubert that the death of General Jackson was probably a necessary factor in the defeat of the Confederacy.  As a military team he and Lee were able to accomplish military miracles and with his death the Confederacy could still rely upon the endless courage of their ragged warriors and the brilliance of Lee, but the age of military miracles in the Civil War ended with the passing of Jackson.

The song was taken from a poem found on the body of a dead Confederate sergeant after the First Battle of Winchester, May 25, 1862: (more…)

Jackson’s Report on Second Manassas

On April 27, 1863 Joe Hooker led the Army of the Potomac south of the Rappahannock River, opening the Chancellorsville campaign.  Lieutenant General Thomas J. Jackson would die on May 10, 1863 from wounds received on Chancellorsville.  We are therefore fortunate indeed that on April 27, 1863 he submitted his report on the Second Manassas campaign which culminated in the routing of the recently formed Union army of Virginia under General John Pope.  Here is the text of the report:

HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VA., April 27, 1863.   Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON, A. A. and I. G., Hdqrs. Dept. Northern Virginia.  

L   General: I have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the operations of my command from August 15 to September 5, 1862, embracing the several engagements of Manassas Junction, Bristoe Station, Ox Hill, and so much of the battle of Groveton(on August 28, 29, and 30) as was fought by the troops under my command: On August 15, in obedience to instructions from the commanding General, I left my encampment, near Gordonsville, and, passing Orange Court-House, encamped in the evening near Mount Pisgah Church, where I remained until the 20th, when, in accordance with my instructions, while General Longstreet was crossing the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford, I crossed the same river at Somerville Ford. The command en. camped for the night near Stevensburg.   My command at this time comprised Ewell’s, A. P. Hill’s, and Jackson’s divisions. Ewell’s was composed of the brigades of Generals Lawton, Early, Hays (Colonel Forno commanding), and Trimble, with the batteries of William D. Brown, W. F. Dement, J. W. Latimer, W. L Baithis, and L E D’Aquin A P Hill’s division was composed of the brigades of Generals Branch, Gregg, Field, Pender, Archer, and Colonel Thomas, with the batteries of C. M. Braxton. H. G. Latham, W. G. Crenshaw, D. G. Mcintosh, Greenlee Davidson, and W. J. Pegram. Jackson’s division, commanded by Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro, was composed of Winder’s brigade, Colonel Baylor commanding; Colonel Campbell’s brigade, Maj. John Seddon commanding; Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro’s brigade, Col. A. G. Taliaferro commanding, and Starke’s brigade, with the batteries of Brockenbrough, [George W.] Wooding, W. T. Poague, Joseph Carpenter, W. H. Caskie, and Charles I. Raine.

Major-General Stuart, with his cavalry, co-operated during the expedition, and I shall more than once have to acknowledge my obligations for the valuable and efficient aid which he rendered.

Early on the morning of the 21st the command left its encampment and moved in the direction of Beverly Ford, on the Rappahannock, General Taliaferro’s command in the lead. On approaching the ford the enemy was seen on the opposite bank. Batteries of that division, under the direction of Major Shumaker, chief of artillery, were placed in position, which, after a short resistance (as reported by General Taliaferro), silenced the enemy’s guns and dispersed his infantry. Major-General Stuart had crossed with a portion of his cavalry, supported by some pieces of artillery, and after skirmishing with the enemy a few hours, taking some prisoners and arms, returned with the information that the Federal forces were moving in strength upon his position and were close at hand. The enemy soon appeared on the opposite bank, and an animated firing was opened and, to a considerable extent, kept up across the river for the rest of the day between the Federal artillery and the batteries of Taliaferro’s command. (more…)

Published in: on August 28, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jackson’s Report on Second Manassas  
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Jackson’s Black Sunday School

One of the more interesting tidbits about Thomas Jonathan Jackson, universally known as Stonewall, is that he and his wife established a Sunday School for free and slave blacks in Lexington, Virginia.  The school taught free blacks and slaves to read although this was against Virginia law.

Jackson’s personal views on slavery are probably best summed up by this statement from his wife:

 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.

Jackson continued to financially support the Sunday School during the War, and one his last pieces of correspondence prior to his fatal wounding contained his regular contribution.  Here is a letter Jackson wrote on June 7, 1858 describing the operation of the school to Lyle Davis, a Professor at Washington College and a member of the same Presbyterian Church in Lexington that Jackson attended: (more…)

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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June 29, 1862: Battle of Savage’s Station

On June 29, 1862, the bulk of the Army of the Potomac had gathered at Savage’s Station, a supply depot on the James River, preparing to pass over the White Oak Swamp.  Lee had again devised a complex plan of attack that his green army would have difficulty carrying out.  AP Hill’s and Longstreet’s division were ordered east towards Richmond and then southeast to take the Glendale crossroads, eliminating the possibility that they could participate in the attack on Savage’s Station. Holmes’ division was sent even farther south towards Malvern Hill.  Left for an attack on Savage’s Station was Magruder’s division to attack from the west and Jackson’s three divisions north of the Chickahominy above Savage’s Station.

Magruder attacked at 9:00 AM in a skirmish.  His main attack was not launched until 5:00 PM, Magruder realizing he was heavily outnumbered, 14,000 to 26,000.  Jackson did not attack, spending his time repairing bridges over the Chickahominy, and confused by a badly garbled order from Lee that caused him to think that he was ordered to stay north of the Chickahominy.  The battle was a bloody stalemate, with about 1500 casualties.  The Union army continued to retreat abandoning 2500 wounded in Savage’s Station.  Jackson got across the Chickahominy at 2;30 AM on June 30, far to late to participate in the battle or prevent the retreat of the Union army.  It is hard to believe that the Jackson who performed so ineptly in the Seven Days was the same man who had performed so brilliantly in the Valley just a few weeks before.

Here is General Lee’s report on the battle of Savage’s Station which was written on March 6, 1863: (more…)

Published in: on June 29, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 29, 1862: Battle of Savage’s Station  
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Jackson’s Report on the Valley Campaign

One feature of the Civil War that sometimes is overlooked in histories of that conflict, is that the official reports of campaigns and battles usually were written months after the event.  So it was with the Valley Campaign.  Jackson did not have the leisure to write-up his official report until April of 1863, a month before his death from the fatal wound he received at Chancellorsville.  It would have been a great loss to the history of the Civil War if Jackson had been killed before he wrote down his report on his remarkable campaign.

In an earlier post, which may be read here, we looked at the first portion of the Valley Campaign.  After chasing the Union force which he defeated at McDowell on May 8, 1862 almost to Franklin, Jackson began a return march to the Valley on May 15.

Jackson’s goal was now to drive Bank’s army from the Valley.  Swiftly concentrating his troops, he struck at a Union outpost at Front Royal on May 23.  With 3,000 men, Jackson swiftly routed the Union force of a 1,000, capturing two-thirds of them.  Jackson’s victory at Front Royal rendered the position of Bank’s position at Front Royal untenable, and he began to retreat.  Jackson pursued with the customary swiftness that caused his infantry to be dubbed “foot cavalry” and defeated Banks at the battle of First Winchester, Jackson’s 16,000 man force inflicting 2000 casualties on Bank’s army of 6500, in exchange for 400 casualties. 

Jackson’s victory cleared the Valley of any substantial Union forces and caused consternation in Washington.  Lincoln rapidly began assembling forces for an offensive against Jackson, and that will be the subject of a final post on the Valley campaign in June.   Here is Jackson’s official report dealing with this portion of the Campaign:  (more…)

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Stonewall Jackson’s Way

“And Thou knowest O Lord, when Thou didst decide that the Confederacy should not succeed, Thou hadst first to remove thy servant, Stonewall Jackson.”

(Part of the benediction given by Father D. Hubert, who served as a chaplain during the war with Hay’s Lousiana Brigade, at the unveiling of the statue and monument to Stonewall Jackson on May 10th, 1881 in New Orleans.)

Something for the weekend.  Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by the endlessly talented Bobby Horton who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.

Of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, nicknamed Stonewall by General Barnard Bee at the battle of Bull Run, it was said he lived by the New Testament and fought by the Old.  Certainly throughout his life he was a convinced Christian.  As a young man he would attend services of various Christian denominations.  In Mexico, during his service in the Mexican War, he attended mass, although sadly he did not convert to Catholicism.  Instead he eventually became a Presbyterian.  His Bible was his constant companion, and he would often speak of God and theological matters in private conversation.

Jackson in his professional life was a soldier.  Just before the Civil War he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy (science) and artillery instruction at the Virginia Military Institute.  As a teacher he made a good soldier.  His lectures were rather dry.  If his students seemed to fail to grasp a lecture, he would repeat it the next day, word for word. 

His home life was a mixture of sorrow and joy.  His first wife died in childbirth along with their still-born son, a tragedy that would have crushed many a man less iron-willed than  Jackson.  His second marriage, like his first, was happy, but heartache also haunted it.  A daughter died shortly after birth in 1858.  A second daughter was born in 1862, shortly before Jackson’s own death in 1863.

He and his second wife established and taught a Sunday school for black slaves.  At the time it was against the law in Virginia to teach slaves to read, but apparently that is precisely what Jackson and his wife did.   One of the last letters he ever posted was his regular contribution he mailed off throughout the war for the financial support of the Sunday school for slaves he and his wife had founded.

During the war he rose to fame as Stonewall Jackson.  His valley campaign in 1862 in the Shenandoah Valley where he outmarched and outfought numerous Union armies, each larger than the force he led, is still studied in military academies around the world as a classic example of how a weaker force, using mobility and surprise, can defeat vastly superior forces. (more…)