| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
LINCOLN—CHANCELLORSVILLE—THE DEATH OF STONEWALL JACKSON
 STILL the war went on, and still the North suffered many losses.
Soon after the battle of Fredericksburg General Burnside resigned
the command of the army of the Potomac. His place was taken by
General Joseph Hooker, known to his men as "Fighting Joe." He was
a tall and handsome man, brave, and dashing almost to rashness.
"Beware of rashness, beware of rashness," said Lincoln, when he
appointed him. "But with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward,
and give us victories."
But not even "Fighting Joe" could bring victory to the North at
once. He found the army disheartened, dwindling daily by desertion,
and altogether in something like confusion. He was, however, a
splendid organiser, and in less than two months he had pulled the
army together and once more made it a terrible fighting machine. He
declared it to be the finest army in the world, and full of pride
in his men, and pride in himself, he set out to crush Lee.
Near the tiny hamlet of Chancellorsville the two armies met, and
the four days' fighting which followed is known as the battle of
Everything seemed to favour the Federals. They had the larger army,
they were encamped in a good position, and above all the men were
full of admiration for, and trust in, 'Fighting Joe."
General Hooker's movements had been quick and sure,
 his plans well
laid. But he had expected the enemy to "flee ingloriously" before
The enemy, however, did not flee, but showed a stubborn intention
of fighting. Then Hooker's courage failed him. He seemed to lose
his grip on things, and much to the surprise of his officers he
left his high position and took a lower one.
"Great heavens," said General Meade, when he heard the order, "if
we cannot hold the top of a hill we certainly cannot hold the bottom
The first day of the battle passed without any great loss on either
side. Night came, the fighting ceased, and the weary men lay down
to rest. But for Lee and Jackson there was little sleep. Beneath
a small clump of pine trees they sat on packing cases, with maps
spread out before them. For Jackson was planning one of his quick
and stealthy marches, intent on catching the Federals unawares
where they least expected it. And Lee, seeing the indecision of
the Federal leader, was nothing loath. He had grown bold even to
rashness in proportion as Hooker had grown cautious.
"What exactly do you propose to do?" asked Lee, as he studied the
"Go around here," replied Jackson, as with his finger he traced a
line on the map which encircled the whole right wing of the Federal
"With what force do you propose to make this movement?" asked Lee.
"With my whole corps," answered Jackson.
General Lee thought for a few minutes in silence. Then he spoke.
"Well, go on," he said.
He knew that it was a great gamble. The Federal army was twice as
large as his own and yet Jackson proposed to cut it in two, and
place the whole Federal army between the
 two halves. If the movement
failed it would be a terrible failure. If it succeeded it would be
a great success. It was worth the risk. So he said, "Go on."
As for Jackson he had no doubts. At Lee's words he rose, smiling,
"My troops will move at once, sir," he said, and with a salute he
Soon in the cool and lovely May morning Jackson's men were marching
through what was known as the Wilderness. It was a forest of smallish
trees, so thickly set that a man could hardly march through it
gun on shoulder. The Federals saw the great column of men move off
without misgivings, imagining them to be retreating. Soon they were
lost to sight, swallowed up by the Wilderness.
Here and there through the wood narrow, unmade roads were cut,
and along these hour after hour twenty-five thousand men moved
ceaselessly and silently. Through the thick foliage there came to
them faint echoes of the thundering guns, while close about them
the cries of startled birds broke the stillness, and the timid,
wild things of the woods scurried in terror before them. As the day
went on the heat became stifling, and dust rose in clouds beneath
the tramping feet. Still, choking, hot and dusty the men pressed
The soldiers of the right wing of the Federal army were resting
about six o'clock that evening. Their arms were stacked, some
were cooking supper, others were smoking or playing cards, when
suddenly from the woods there came the whirr of wings, and a rush
of frightened squirrels and rabbits, and other woodland creatures.
It was the first warning the Federals had of the approach of the
enemy. They flew to arms, but it was already too late. With their
wild yell the Confederates dashed into the camp. The Federals
fought bravely, but they were
 taken both in front and rear, and
were utterly overwhelmed.
Now and again a regiment tried to make a stand, only to be swept
away by the terrific onslaught of the Confederates, and leaving
half their number dead on the field they fled in panic. Still with
desperate courage the Federal leaders sought to stem the onrush of
the enemy and stay the rout.
"You must charge into those woods, and hold the foe until I get
some guns into position," said General Pleasonton, turning to Major
"I will, sir," replied Keenan. Then calmly smiling, at the head of
his handful of men he rode to certain death.
Ten minutes later he lay dead with more than half his gallant
followers beside him. But his sacrifice was not in vain. For his
desperate thrust had held the Confederates until the guns were
placed, and the army saved from utter rout.
The sun went down on a brilliant victory for the Confederates. Yet
the night brought disaster for them.
Eager to find out what the Federals were doing General Jackson
rode out towards their lines in the gathering darkness. It was a
dangerous thing to do, for he ran the risk of being picked off by
their sharp-shooters. The danger indeed was so great that an officer
of his staff tried to make him turn back.
"General," he said, "don't
you think that this is the wrong place for you?'
But Jackson would not listen. "The danger is all over," he said
carelessly. "The enemy is routed. Go back and tell Hill to press
Soon after giving this order Jackson himself turned, and rode
back with his staff at a quick trot. But in the dim light his men
mistook the little party for a company of Federals charging, and
they fired. Many of his officers
 were killed, Jackson himself was
sorely wounded and fell from his horse into the arms of one of his
"General," asked some one, anxiously, "are you much hurt?"
"I think I am," replied Jackson. "And all my wounds are from my
own men," he added sadly.
As tenderly as might be he was carried to the rear, and all that
could be done was done. But Stonewall Jackson had fought his last
victorious fight. Eight days later the Conqueror of all men laid
his hand upon him, and he passed to the land of perfect Peace.
During these days he seemed to forget the great war. His wife and
children were with him, and thoughts of them filled his heart.
But at the end he was once more in imagination with his men on the
field of battle.
"Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action," he cried. "Pass the infantry
to the front. Tell Major Hawks——"
Then he stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. A puzzled, troubled
look overspread his handsome, worn face. But in a few minutes it
passed away, and calm peace took its place.
"Let us cross over the river," he said, softly and clearly, "and
rest under the shade of the trees."
Then with a contented sight he entered into his rest.
Stonewall Jackson was a true Christian and a great soldier, and his
loss to the Confederate cause was one which could not be replaced.
He believed to the end that he was fighting for the right, and,
mistaken although he might be, his honour and valour were alike
perfect. Both North and South may unite in admiration for him as
a soldier, and in love for him as a Christian gentleman.
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