Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/385

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379
The Truth of History.

them to dismount and shelter themselves. Dr. Dabney chanced to be near a very large, thick oak gate-post, and he very wisely got behind that, sitting bolt upright with his back against it. Soon after he had assumed this position Major Nelson rode up to bring some message from General Ewell to General Jackson, and with a soldier's keen eye at once took in the situation. Delivering his message, he at once rode straight to Dr. Dabney, and, with a graceful military salute, said: 'Major Dabney, every shot and shell and minnie strikes just where the Lord permits, and you must excuse me, sir, for expressing my surprise that you are seeking to put an oak gate-post between you and Special Providence.

"But the great theologian was fully equal to the occasion, and at once replied: 'Why Major, you do not understand the doctrine of "Special Providence." I believe and teach it with all my heart, and I look upon this thick gate post as a very "Special Providence" just at this juncture. "

It will thus be seen that I alluded to you as "a gallant and efficient officer on General Jackson's staff"; that I say that General Jackson ordered his staff "to dismount and shelter themselves"; that I say that " Dr. Dabney chanced to be near a very large, thick oak gate-post, and he very wisely got behind that, sitting bolt upright, with his back against it"; and that I say that "the great theologian was fully equal to the occasion," and report him as getting decidedly the best of the repartee between two gallant soldiers under terrific fire,.

Pardon me for adding just this: In writing a great deal, as I have done, to vindicate at the bar of history the name and fame of the Confederate soldier, I have never knowingly penned a sentence which did injustice to the humblest private in the ranks. Far less am I capable of intentionally wronging one whose devoted and life-long service to our evangelical Christianity—whose gallant and efficient service on the staff of Stonewall Jackson, and whose admirable biography of his chief, and able and unanswerable "Vindication of of Virginia and the South," have won my highest respect and warmest admiration.

Again expressing my profound regret that I have inadvertently wounded one whom for many years I have counted my personal friend, with sincere sympathy for you in your affliction, and with the earnest prayer that God may long spare you for the noble work you are now doing, I am yours fraternally,

J. William Jones.