Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/295

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Stonewall Jackson.

and beat back one-half of McClellan's army, scattered though the movements were, as McClellan's detachments were scattered. If his successes had been concentrated in a field of a dozen miles in length the results would have been looked upon as little less than miraculous. They are none the less so because scattered over a country traversed by mountains and rivers. It was the misfortune of General Longstreet to have said, with traces of spitefulness, that by good fortune, General Jackson encountered in the Valley political generals—Banks, an ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives; Fremont, a scouting pathfinder; Schenck, an Ohio politician; and Shields( the man who once went on the field to fight a duel with Lincoln) a decayed adventurer. And yet he used these men up effectually. Then confronting Pope, Franklin, Sumner, Hooker and Meade, so successfully disposed of them that one can hardly withhold the judgment that, place him where you might, he would never fail to meet the requirements of the moment.

During the fall of 1862, immediately after the Sharpsburg battle, a rapid reorganization of the army became necessary. The battles around Richmond, Manassas, and the Maryland campaign ending at Sharpsburg had so thinned the ranks and depleted the officers that rough and ready measures were essential to a speedy reorganization. We have always understood that just at that time almost arbitrary power was given to General Lee and his immediate subordinates, Longstreet and Jackson, in the selection of officers to fill vacancies. It is certain that just at that time Jackson was subjected to severe criticism in the Stonewall Brigade because of his selection of Paxton, a former townsman in Lexington, a lawyer when the war began, and at the time of his appointment serving on his staff, to command the brigade. Paxton was killed at Chancellorsville on the morning of May 3, 1863, falling in the arms of the writer, then Assistant Adjutant General of the brigade. But whatever may have been said, and may yet be said of Jackson's inability to penetrate the character of men, no matter how wretchedly some of his appointments failed, many, as many perhaps as with other men, proved worthy of the confidence of their chief, and among them no example was more conspicuous than that of General Paxton.