Stonewall's Noble and High Mission on Earth
The early victories of Southern armies were cause for much celebration across the Atlantic, and this was reported home by Confederate diplomats. The London Times, Morning Herald and Evening Standard reported the elation with which Jackson’s victory at Chancellorsville was received, and later the widespread grief over his death.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Stonewall’s Noble and High Mission on Earth
Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863
From: A. Dudley Mann, No. 48, 3 Rue D’Arlon, Brussels, May 28, 1863
To: Hon. J.P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, Confederate States of America, Richmond, Va.
“Sir: The excessive joy occasioned on this side of the Atlantic by our dazzling victory at Chancellorsville has been tinged by inordinate sorrow. [General Stonewall Jackson’s death causes] civilization to mourn, as it has rarely ever mourned, for the loss of a public man.
The London Times of yesterday no more than reflects the general opinion of Europe upon the subject in the following paragraph contained in its leader: “The Confederate laurels won on the field of Chancellorsville must be twined with the cypress. Probably no disaster of the war will have carried such grief to Southern hearts as the death of General Jackson . . . Even on this side of the ocean the gallant soldier’s fate will everywhere be heard of with pity and sympathy not only as a brave man fighting for his country’s independence, but as one of the most consummate generals that this century has produced.
The blows he struck at the enemy were as terrible and decisive as Bonaparte himself. But perhaps the crowning glory of his life was the great battle in which he fell.
When the Federal commander, by crossing the river twelve miles above his camp and pressing on as he thought to the rear of the Confederates, had placed them between two bodies of his army, he was so confident of success as to boast that the enemy was the property of the Army of the Potomac. It was reserved to Jackson, by a swift and secret march, to fall upon his right wing, crush it, and by an attack unsurpassed in fierceness and pertinacity to drive his [enemy’s] very superior forces back into a position from which he could not extricate himself except by flight across the river.
[That evening], Jackson received two wounds, one in the left arm, the other in the right hand. Amputation of the arm was necessary, and the Southern hero sank under the effects of it. He was only thirty-eight years old, and was known before the war as a man of simple and noble character and of strong religious faith.”
The conservative organ, the Morning Herald, also in its leader says: “No end can be more honorable to any man [than] to die at his post of duty. To die of his wounds in battle, with the shout of victory still ringing in his ears, is a glory reserved to the soldier.
The sympathy that is felt in Europe for their grief at this immeasurable loss will add to the warmth of popular feeling for the men who have striven so long in a just cause and acquitted themselves so well. A soldier of remarkable ability, he fought with the advantage of an earnest faith in his cause; and, controlled in all he did by a strong religious feeling, he fought the better still for believing that God was on his side.
He was animated by the spirit which rendered the soldiers of the Commonwealth irresistible in fight, which carried Havelock through incredible dangers to the gates of Lucknow in triumph. The Christian and patriotic soldier achieved the last and greatest of his successes in dying for his country. He perished doubly a martyr, and in his last breath attested the righteousness of the cause which he sealed with his blood.”
The Paris correspondent for the Evening Standard . . . remarks: “I cannot forbear noticing the universal feeling of regret created among the English colony in Paris by the sad tidings . . . He was a hero after our own heart . . . I can safely say deeper and more unanimous sorrow has not been experienced by our countrymen here.
The Northerners in Paris often express wonder at the universal sympathy for the South felt by Englishmen. They may learn a useful lesson from the tribute paid by our countrymen to Stonewall Jackson. Independently of the justice of the cause, independently of the disgust excited by the arrogance and boasting of the North, it is the presence in the Southern ranks of such men as Davis, Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Stuart, Beauregard, and Semmes that conciliate the esteem of the world, as well as its admiration. Stonewall Jackson was one of the most heroic figures that have been thrown into relief in the course of this gigantic struggle.
Look at the North, and we may ask: Quando et quo invenient parem? Low speculators, dishonest politicians, pettifogging tyrants, unhanged murderers, and strong-minded women, for whose conduct insanity is the only possible excuse – these are the worthies of the North. The loss of Jackson has brought home this contrast to many minds, and, if possible, added strength to the general conviction in the ultimate triumph of the cause supported by such as he.”
General Jackson has lived long enough for the creation of world-wide, exalted fame; but alas! not sufficiently long for the interest of his struggling country. Nobly, most nobly, did he complete his high mission on earth. In his separation from us let us console ourselves with the belief that his illustrious example will exercise as salutary an influence upon our citizen soldiers in the hour of battle as did his presence, and that his pure spirit will linger around his beloved associates whenever they may be engaged and guide to their accustomed achievements.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, A. Dudley Mann”
(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume II, US Publishing Company, 1905, excerpt, pp. 489-492)