Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/175

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Stonewall J</7,-.--m'x Boyhood Do/s. ];.;

was at Lexington during the campaign resulting in the election of Lincoln. Though the voters of Rockbridge county, in which Lex- ington is situated, were overwhelmingly for Douglas, Breckinridge had a numbar of warm supporters, and the latter called a mass meet- ing in the court-house. Frank Paxton, who afterwards fell at Chan- cellorsville at the head of his brigade, was one of the speakers, but the interest lagged until Jackson, who sat in the rear of the room, arose to speak. From the first he was listened to with the strictest attention, and his speech of a quarter of an hour made a deeper im- pression than all the others. He spoke briefly and to the point, touching upon the dangers which threatened the country, and the need for every citizen to take a decided stand for the right, as he saw it. The scene comes back to me now. The dimly-lighted room, the upturned faces of the listeners, and the earnest words and awk- ward gestures of the speaker. When he had finished he turned abruptly, and marched out with the quick, firm step that was part of the man; but a revelation had come to those who remained, and they knew that the reserved and quiet professor had clear and well-defined views on the needs of the hour, and the courage to express and stand by his convictions.

" Though, as I have said, Jackson was reserved and austere in his bearing, he was one of the most popular men in Lexington; modest and always unwilling to make a show of his powers. Everyone, sooner or later, came to regard him as a remarkable man, and even if they did not claim him as a friend, they respected him sincerely, and were prompt to show that they did. In the class-room he was impartial and strict, but not severe. A dull student always received his kindest encouragement, and a lazy one was just as sure of repri- mand. There are scores of men who owe the education they pos- sess to the thorough grounding received during the years spent under Professor Jackson.

"When, in April, 1861, news reached Lexington that the Ordinance of Secession had been passed, the sleepy old town seemed suddenly changed to a military camp, and on every side were seen the prepa- rations for war. It was decided that the eldest cadets at the military institute should be sent to the various recruiting stations to drill the volunteers, and so one day in May, with Jackson at their head, they marched away. The time for their departure was a still, sunny Sun- day morning, and all the people of the town gathered to see them off.

" The cadets, numbering 200, were drawn up in front of the fort-