Browsing "Southern Heroism"

Young Purser Hoist the Rebel Colors

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1846, well-known Wilmingtonian businessman, author and philanthropist James Sprunt was a young seventeen year-old who took to sea aboard blockade runners. A successful cotton merchant after the war, he also held the position of British vice consul German consul, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage, and President of: the Seamen’s Friend Society, State Literary and Historical Association of North Carolina, North Carolina Folk Lore Society – and was a Trustee of the University of North Carolina. His most famous work is entitled “Chronicles of the Cape Fear, published in 1914.

When asked on one occasion what suggestion from his experience in life he would offer the young, he replied, “Unswerving integrity, sobriety, perseverance, out-of-door exercise, and faith in the goodness of God.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Young Purser Hoists the Rebel Colors

“He came to manhood in a troubled time. The War Between the States had begun. The Federal Government proclaimed a blockade of Southern ports. The natural advantages of Wilmington made it an ideal port for blockade runners, as there were two entrances to the river and as the slope of the beach for miles is very gradual to deep water. Therefore, a light draft steamer, hard pressed by the enemy, could run along the outer edge of the breakers without great risk of grounding, whereas the pursuer, being usually of deeper draft, was obliged to keep farther off shore.

In the third year of the War at age seventeen, he took passage on a blockade runner to Bermuda with the promise of a position on the North Heath, a vessel then building on the Clyde. When she arrived at Bermuda, Captain Burroughs, her commander, who had successfully run the blockade twelve times . . . [on the] Cornubia, appointed him purser of the North Heath.

But shortly after sailing from St. George, Bermuda, bound for Wilmington, they ran into a hurricane and for two days and nights were in imminent danger of their lives. For an entire night she wallowed like a log in a trough of mountainous waves . . . the water had risen in her hold until every one of the fourteen furnaces was extinguished. Eventually the captain…got the ship under control and she was put about and headed back to Bermuda for repairs. A little later . . . he was appointed purser of the steamer Lilian [under Captain John Newland Maffitt], and on this vessel he passed through all the dangers and exciting experiences of a daring blockade runner.

[The USS Shenandoah] log of Saturday, July 30, 1864, off Cape Lookout says: “At 3:45PM sighted a steamer burning black smoke to the eastward; made all sail in chase. At 5:45PM he showed rebel colors . . . [and] began to fire at him with the 30 and 150 pounder rifle Parrott . . . at 8PM stopped firing, gave up the chase, stopped engines.”

Of this Dr. Sprunt wrote half a century afterwards: “. . . it was I who hoisted those “rebel” colors on that eventful day fifty-five years ago: and thereby hangs the tale.” Then follows the blood-stirring story of the Lilian, loaded to the hatch combings with gunpowder for Lee’s army; of her hundred-mile chase and bombardment by the Shenandoah, of the “fearful accuracy” of the cruiser’s gunnery . . . the young purser’s sensations as the hurtling shells passed only a few feet from his head . . . the bursting of one of her boilers, reducing her to a desperate condition, of her wonderful escape after nightfall . . . and on the following morning, though badly crippled, passed through the Federal fleet off Fort Fisher under furious fire from the whole squadron and steamed into Wilmington with her cargo of powder.”

On the third outward voyage the Lilian was chased and bombarded for five hours by five Federal cruisers, disabled by a shot below the water line and captured, and James Sprunt, sharing the fate of his associates, became a prisoner of war (August 24, 1864) and was confined for some time in a casemate of Fort Macon.

In company with Pilot “Jim Billy” Craig, afterwards well-known as the Reverend J.W. Craig, an honored minister of the Methodist Church, he escaped from prison and they made their way to Halifax, Nova Scotia. His last service afloat in the War was as purser of the Confederate steamer Susan Beirne, of which Eugene Maffitt [son of Captain John Newland Maffitt] was chief officer, and he continued on this blockade runner until the fall of Fort Fisher.”

(James Sprunt, A Tribute from the City of Wilmington, Edwards & Broughton, 1925, pp. 12-18)

Six Thousand Against Twenty Thousand!

Despite the tide of war turning against them and being hopelessly outnumbered in every battle, the hungry and ragged American soldiers fought on in North Carolina, bravely trying to destroy the Northern invaders. They fought to protect their families, homes and State; their enemies fought for bounties, looting and conquest.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Six Thousand Against Twenty Thousand!

“At Monroe’s Farm . . . General Wade Hampton and his Confederate cavalry caught Judson Kilpatrick with his pants down — in fact, without any pants — in a sudden surprise attack during the early dawn of March 11 [1865]. Had the famished Confederates not stopped to loot the Yankee camp of food, they might have gained a signal victory that day.

Many of the Confederates killed in that fight were boys — the seed corn of the Confederacy, as Governor Vance called them. They died then, those boys, many calling for their mothers. Their mangled bodies lie in a mass grave in old Longstreet Church Cemetery, now a part of the Fort Bragg [military] Reservation.

On through Fayetteville, across the Cape Fear River and up toward Averasboro went [General Joseph E.] Johnston’s little army of hungry, ragged men. Only a few days before an order had been issued than none would be excused from duty merely because he had no shoes! And this was March, and it was cold and it rained—Lord, it rained all the time.

So they slogged through the mud and the mire and ate parched corn, pickled pork, roots, grub worms — anything they could chew and swallow. It was at the time when Johnston’s chief surgeon stated he didn’t believe there was a sound set of guts in the entire Confederate Army.

The route of Johnston’s retreat could be followed by following the trail of dysentery-ridden soldiers left in houses along the way. These, then, were the 6,000 men of General Hardee’s Corps, composed principally of South Carolinians, who placed themselves across that 3-1/2 mile stretch of land between the Cape Fear River and Black Rivers — 4 miles south of old Averasboro. Their job? Lick the Yankees!

Over in the Black River Swamp the Confederates had charged the Yankee position . . . The charge was intended to turn the Federal right and neatly cul-de-sac the whole Yankee Army against the Cape Fear River and destroy it. Six thousand against twenty thousand!”

(They Passed This Way, Malcolm Fowler, Friends of Harnett County Library, 1955, pp. 95-96)

Hooker Amuses the American Napoleons

The Duke of Wellington reportedly said that “a man of refined Christian sensibilities is totally unfit for the profession of a soldier,” though two devoted Christians, Lee and Jackson faithfully performed their soldierly duties to near-perfection against tremendous odds.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Hooker Amuses the American Napoleons

“On the Confederate side, the force operating at Chancellorsville consisted of McLaw’s and Anderson’s divisions of Longstreet’s corps (Hood’s and Pickett’s divisions of that corps, under Longstreet, were in the vicinity of Suffolk, on the south side of the James river), and Jackson’s corps, of A.P. Hill’s, [Jubal] Early’s, D.H. Hill’s under Rodes, and Trimble’s under Colston, and two brigades of cavalry under W.H.F. Lee and Fitzhugh Lee.

Present, then, we find six infantry divisions or twenty-eight brigades, and the cavalry brigades of nine regiments. The official return of the Army of Northern Virginia nearest to the battle extant – viz: 31st March 1863 . . . you have present at Chancellorsville a Confederate total on 53,303, with some 170 pieces of artillery.

Now let us see what 133,708 fighting men in blue did with 53,303 “boys in gray.”

It will be demonstrated that “the finest army on the planet” as Hooker termed it, “was like the waves of the ocean driven upon the beach by some unseen force, and whose white crests we so soon broken into glittering jewels on the sand.”

[Three of Hooker’s] corps were to constitute the left wing of the army – were to hold and amuse General Lee and prevent him from observing the great flank movement of the right wing, and to pursue him, when maneuvered out of his entrenchments, by the approaching hosts on his left-rear.

Hooker’s original left wing was about equal in numbers to General Lee’s whole army, and his right wing, or marching column, of four infantry corps and one cavalry corps [57,414], would represent his numerical advantage in strength.

The Confederate commander knew a movement was in progress. With the serenity of almost superhuman intelligence he waited for it to be developed before his plans were laid to counteract it, for he remembered the maxim of the great Napoleon, that when your enemy is making a mistake he must not be interrupted.

General Lee was to keep 14,000 men in front of Hooker’s 73,124 while Jackson moved around his right flank with 26,000. [Upon personally viewing the exposed and undefended enemy flank, Jackson’s] eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up his sad face. His expression was one of intense interest, his face was colored slightly with the paint of approaching battle, and radiant at the success of his flanking movement.

From what I have read and heard of Jackson since that day, I know now what he was doing then. Oh! “beware of rashness,” General Hooker. Stonewall Jackson is praying in full view of your right flank!”

(Chancellorsville – Address of General Fitzhugh Lee, Southern Historical Papers, Volume VII, 1879, pp. 558-560; 570-572)

Hoke Reveals Kinship with Lee

Major-General Robert F. Hoke of Lincolnton, North Carolina was said to be Lee’s personal choice for command of the Army of Northern Virginia should he be incapacitated. A brilliant division commander, Hoke was not a West Pointer and after the war declined any reminiscences of his participation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Hoke Reveals Kinship with Lee

“I once saw General [Robert F.] Hoke eating ham and eggs and buckwheat cakes in a hotel in Greensboro. A massive man with broad smooth brow and well-trimmed gray beard, he resembled the pictures of General Lee. Later in the day when I was introduced to him at a railway station, the talk fell on the war with Spain, which had just ended and he told me President McKinley had offered him by telegraph a brigadier’s commission in the army preparing to go to Cuba.

He thanked the President but declined. “I have seen enough of war in my time,” he said. He spoke as casually as if he had said,” “I had all the buckwheat cakes for breakfast I wanted.”

We were then only four miles from the spot where he as the commander of a division in [General Joe] Johnston’s army had surrendered to Sherman. I tried to draw him out on the subject, but he was politely uninterested.

General Hoke engaged in mining and railroading after 1865. He resolutely refused to enter politics, unlike many of his brother officers who were only too ready to capitalize their war records. In this General Hoke revealed a kinship of the spirit of General Lee.”

(Son of Carolina, Augustus White Long, Duke University Press, 1939, pp. 36-37)

Eminent and Unmatched Virginians

Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts seemed unaware of his State’s deep involvement in the transatlantic slave trade as he arraigns the South for an absence of morals. Senator John Critcher below served during the war as a lieutenant-colonel of the Fifteenth Virginia cavalry.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Eminent and Unmatched Virginians

“In the debate on Education in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hoar, of Massachusetts remarked that slavery in the South was not so observable in the degradation of the slave as in the depravity of the master.

Mr. Critcher, of Virginia replied:

“Reminding the gentleman from Massachusetts that every signer of the Declaration of Independence, except those from his State, and perhaps one or two others, were slave-owners, he would venture to make a bold assertion; he would venture to say that he could name more eminent men from the parish of his residence, than the gentleman could name from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He would proceed to name them, and yield the floor to the gentleman to match them if he could.

On one side of his estate is Wakefield, the birthplace of Washington. On the other side is Stratford, the residence of Light Horse Harry Lee, of glorious Revolutionary memory.

Adjoining Stratford is Chantilly, the residence of Richard Henry Lee, the mover of the Declaration of Independence, and the Cicero of the American Revolution. There lived Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Charles Lee, at one time Washington’s Attorney General; and Arthur Lee, the accomplished negotiator of the treaty of commerce and alliance between the Colonies and France in 1777.

Returning, as said before, you come first to the birthplace of Washington; another hour’s drive will bring you to the birthplace of Monroe; another hour’s drive to the birthplace of Madison, and if the gentleman supposes that the present generation is unworthy of their illustrious ancestors, he has but to stand on the same estate to see the massive chimneys of the baronial mansion that witnessed the birth of Robert E. Lee.

These are some of the eminent men from the parish of his residence, and he yielded the floor that the gentleman might match them, if he could, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

(Degrading Influence of Slavery, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12, Barefoot Publishing, pg. 59)

 

History of Heroism and Honesty

The report of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans History Committee below expressed concern that “tens of thousands of boys and girls are growing up into manhood and womanhood throughout the South, with improper ideas concerning the struggle between the States; and with distorted conceptions concerning the causes” of the war. They sought remedies for this deplorable state of affairs.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

History Emphasizing Heroism and Honesty

“We have asked each member of our committee to urge upon each camp in his State the importance of gathering reliable data for the use of the future historian. This is a sacred duty that we owe to the living and to the dead and to those who are yet unborn. The establishment of truth is never wrong.

When we realize, as all of us must, that from the gloom of overwhelming defeat at the hands of superior numbers a righteous cause arises and appeals to posterity to render the verdict in accordance with the truth, loyalty to the memories of our dead, patriotism, and self-respect all urge us to go forward in our work till we are amply repaid for all of our labors by a glorious consummation of our undertaking.

Your committee has made an earnest effort to ascertain what United States histories are used in the schools of this republic. We have, so far, not found a single Southern history north of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers.

In the South thousands of schools use Northern histories. We do not condemn any work solely on the ground that it is a Northern publication . . . What we desire placed in the hands of the millions of American youth is a work that metes out exact justice to both sections of our great country; a work that tells the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Below, we give an extract from an article recently written by a man of Northern birth, Northern education, and Northern principles. The subject that he discusses is “Unfair School Histories.” In speaking of some recent Southern publications, he objects to them because they glorify the South rather than the whole Union. He says:

“It cannot be supposed that such histories will have a permanent place in any school of our land, but why are they adopted in preference to those hitherto in use? Because the books of Northern authorship exhibit an offensive and unfair sectional bias. Northerners may not see it, but it is there. Our school histories seem to need revision.

Do our [Northern] textbooks impress the fact that slavery existed in many of the northern States also in the early years of the century? That it was New England votes, combined with those of the extreme South, that prolonged the slave trade twenty years, against the protest of the middle South? Do our school children realize that secession was boldly and widely advocated in New England in 1814?

Do they think of the Southern leaders as high-minded, noble, and devout men, who fought with consummate bravery? Are we clearly taught that many of those leaders were in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery? That the questions involved were open to honest differences of opinion? That financial considerations unconsciously biased the views of both North and South on slavery?

The truest history, as well as the most patriotic, is that which gives great emphasis to the heroism and honesty, the manliness and Christian character, of the combatants on both sides. No history is worth a place in our schools that is not written in this spirit.

We therefore recommend that there be a committee of three in each State to work in conjunction with similar committees from the Veterans and Daughters of the Confederacy. Let each committee find out what histories are used in the different counties; find out their inaccuracies, and point them out to the various county boards of education and to the people generally.

Patriots everywhere recognize the fact that the continued denunciation and misrepresentation of any part of a common people is a danger to all, and an infamy to all. Let the histories that our children study revere the truth, and we shall be satisfied. Let them record that . . . the South stood on lines of self-defense in battle and in doctrine . . . that the South fought honestly and fearlessly, and that when its banner was furled upon its folds not a stain was there to mar its beauty.”

(United Sons of Confederate Veterans, Report of the History Committee, Confederate Veteran, January 1900, pp. 18-20)

 

Confederate Veterans Recognized in Arlington

Republican President William McKinley was disturbed by the untended condition of Confederate graves near Fredericksburg in 1896 and responded favorably to the United Confederate Veterans interest in re-interring Southern veterans of the War Between the States. The Confederate Section of Arlington Cemetery was created with a monument approved in 1906 by Secretary of War and future President William Howard Taft. The 1929 US Public Law 810 authorized the Secretary of War to “erect headstones over the graves of soldiers who served in the Confederate Army”; US Public Law 85-425 of 1958 provided pensions for Confederate veterans equal to that of Union veterans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Confederate Veterans Recognized in Arlington

“The solemn and patriotic undertaking resulting in the attentive care now being given by the [United States] government to the graves of the thousands of soldiers of the South who died while prisoners of war and the marking of these graves with the proper inscription of the Confederate States army was commenced by the establishment of the beautiful Confederate Section in Arlington Cemetery, the great national burial ground near Washington, and was brought about by Camp No. 1191, United Confederate Veterans, under the leadership of its commander, Dr. S.E. Lewis, now the United States Commissioner for this great work.

[Dr. Lewis has] devoted himself in all these years since 1898, when he investigated the graves of such Confederate soldiers as were buried at Arlington and in other places around the capital. Finding them in unsuitable locations, neglected, and without a soldier’s mark, in 1899 he, in conjunction with his Camp Committee on Confederate Dead, brought the matter by petition before President [William] McKinley and received his sympathy and support, which resulted in an appropriation by Congress in 1900 and in an order for reburial and proper marking by the secretary of War, April 25, 1901.

These Confederate dead, numbering one hundred and twenty-eight in the National Soldier’s Home Cemetery, in the District of Columbia, and one hundred and thirty-six in the older part of Arlington Cemetery, were re-buried . . . with new headstones and the inscriptions . . . consisting of the name and rank of the Confederate soldier, his company, regiment, State, and finally, the letters C.S.A., signifying the Confederate States Army.

The completion of the work in Arlington Cemetery opened the way [for Dr. Lewis] to extend the same attention to the graves of all Confederate soldiers and sailors, over thirty thousand, who died as prisoners of war . . .

This work of rescuing and marking soldiers’ graves under such circumstances has no parallel in history, and those whose knowledge of Confederate soldiers and sympathy with their families in our Southland led them to initiate and prosecute this great memorial have earned the lasting gratitude of every Confederate veteran and should be held in the highest esteem by all who value the honor of the South to the end of time.”

(Patriotic Work of Dr. S.E. Lewis, by E.W. Anderson, Jacksonville, Fla., Confederate Veteran, July 1914, pg. 331)

Here Lies an American Hero

The first commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans, General John B. Gordon of Georgia, tried repeatedly to retire from his high office, “but his comrades would not consent.” Below, he spoke in 1890 of the necessity of maintaining unblemished the nobility, heroism, sacrifices, suffering and glorious memory of the American soldiers in grey.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Here Lies and American Hero

“[The United Confederate Veterans] was created on high lines, and its first commander was the gallant soldier, General John B. Gordon, at the time governor of Georgia, and later was United States senator. General Gordon was continued as commander-in-chief until his death.

The note . . . struck in the constitution of the United Confederate Veterans were reechoed in the opening speech of the first commander-in-chief. General Gordon, addressing the Veterans and the public, said:

“Comrades, no argument is needed to secure for those objects your enthusiastic endorsement. They have burdened your thoughts for many years. You have cherished them in sorrow, poverty and humiliation. In the face of misconstruction, you have held them in your hearts with the strength of religious convictions.

No misjudgments can defeat your peaceful purposes for the future. Your aspirations have been lifted by the mere force and urgency of surrounding conditions to a plane far above the paltry considerations of partisan triumphs.

The honor of the American Government, the just powers of the Federal Government, the equal rights of States, the integrity of the Constitutional Union, the sanctions of law, and the enforcement of order have no class of defenders more true and devoted than the ex-soldiers of the South and their worthy descendants. But you realize the great truth that a people without the memories of heroic suffering or sacrifice are a people without history.

To cherish such memories and recall such a past, whether crowned with success or consecrated in defeat, is to idealize principle and strengthen character, intensify love of country, and convert defeat and disaster into pillars of support for future manhood and noble womanhood.

Whether the Southern people, under their changed conditions, may ever hope to witness another civilization which shall equal that which began with their Washington and ended with their Lee, it is certainly true that devotion to their glorious past is not only the surest guarantee of future progress and the holiest bond of unity, but is also the strongest claim they can present to the confidence and respect of the other sections of the Union.

It is political in no sense, except so far as the word “political” is a synonym for the word “patriotic.” [It will] cherish the past glories of the dead Confederacy and transmute them into living inspirations for future service to the living Republic; of truth, because it will seek to gather and preserve, as witness to history, the unimpeachable facts which shall doom falsehood to die that truth may live; of justice, because it will cultivate . . . that broader and higher and nobler sentiment which would write on the grave of every soldier who fell on our side, “Here lies an American hero, a martyr to the right as his conscience conceived it.”

(The Photographic History of The Civil War, Vol. 5, Robert S. Lanier, editor, Blue & Grey Press, 1987, pp. 298-299)

 

Jackson's Value to Lee

Second only to Robert E. Lee as a great American military commander, Stonewall Jackson’s death proved to be a calamity which may have cost Lee the battle at Gettysburg. Jackson, like Lee, could handily defeat far superior forces as he did between April 30 and June 9, 1862 in the Valley, frustrating 70,000 Northern troops with less than 18,000 men of his own.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Value to Lee

“It was not until the spring of 1862, when Lee became Jefferson Davis’ military advisor and Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia that Jackson’s independent command in the Shenandoah Valley came under Lee’s control. It was at this time that the partnership between Lee and Jackson first took form.

At once Lee sensed Jackson’s integrity. Lenoir Chambers . . . wrote that while Jackson and Lee were far apart, as far as communications went, they were always able, through their letters and orders, to project themselves into the future. Each had a sagacity to discern what the other was thinking or desired. Lee never had a subordinate so quick to grasp his thoughts or so reliable in carrying them out or, when on his own, in taking care of himself while he fitted all his movements to the grand purpose as did Jackson in the Valley Campaign of 1862.

On several occasions, Jackson demonstrated his zealous devotion to his chieftain. During the winter of 1863-63 [near Fredericksburg], Lee once sent word that he wanted to talk with Jackson at his convenience on a matter of no great urgency. Thereupon Jackson arising at daybreak and without breakfast rode through a blinding snow storm to Lee’s headquarters, 15 miles away.

Lee expressed amazement, saying: “You know, General, I did not wish you to come in such a storm. It was a matter of no importance and I am sorry you had such a ride.” Thereupon Jackson blushed and simply said: “I received your note, General.” Jackson’s personal loyalty to Lee was intimately bound up with his confidence in Lee’s military ability. Once when an officer had criticized Lee, Jackson instantly replied: “Lee is a phenomenon. He is the only man I would follow blindfold.”

On that beautiful Sunday morning of May 10, 1863, when he was informed that Jackson could probably not live through the day, Lee at first refused to believe it, saying: “Surely God will not take from us now that we need him so much.” Notifying Gen. Jeb Stuart of Jackson’s death, Lee said: “The great and good Jackson is no more . . . May his spirit pervade our whole army; our country will then be secure.”

It was only after the war that General Lee gave a glimpse of what he may have thought in 1863 of the ultimate consequence of the removal of Jackson from the scene. In a conversation with one of his friends at Washington College, of which he was then president, he remarked: “If I had had Stonewall Jackson, as far as a man can see, I should have won the battle of Gettysburg.”

(Wartime Relationship Between Lee and Jackson, Dr. W. Gleason Bean, Rockbridge Historical Society Proceedings, Volume Six, J.P. Bell Company, 1966, pp. 43-46)

Jackson's Skill, Nerve and Generalship

Though early in his career friends saw Thomas J. Jackson exhibiting much energy and industry, none viewed him as possessing anything resembling military genius. His biographer John Esten Cooke wrote of Jackson that “To fight to the death was his unfaltering resolve, and his own invincible resolution was infused into his troops; they became inspired by his ardor, and were more than a match for two or three times their number fighting without this stimulus.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Skill, Nerve and Generalship

“ . . . Jackson set out in person for Winchester [in late May 1862], travelling by a special train on the Winchester and Potomac Railroad. A gentleman who was with his relates a scene that ensued during the brief journey. At one of the wayside stations, a courier was seen galloping down from the direction of Winchester, and Jackson clutched at the dispatch which he brought. “What news?” he asked.

As [the courier] spoke his lips were firmly compressed, his face grew rigid, and his eyes fixed themselves apparently on some distant object. Then this preoccupation suddenly disappeared; he read the [dispatch] which he held in his hand, tore it to pieces . . . and leaning forward, rested his forehead on his hands, and immediately fell asleep. He soon roused himself and, turning to the gentleman who furnishes these particulars, said:

“I am going to send you to Richmond for re-enforcements. I have just received a dispatch informing me of the advance of the enemy upon Front Royal, which is captured, and Fremont [with 25,000 men] is now advancing toward Wardensville. Thus, you see, I am nearly surrounded by a very large force.

“What is your own [plan], General?”

“To meet this attack I only have 15,000 effective men.”

“What will you do if they cut you off, General?” Jackson hesitated for a moment, and the coolly replied: “I will fall back upon Maryland for re-enforcements.”

Jackson was in earnest. If his retreat was cut off, he intended to advance into Maryland, and doubtless make his way straight to Baltimore and Washington, depending on the Southern sentiment in that portion of the State to bring him re-enforcements. The design was characteristic of his military genius, and its bold air of invasion probably surrounded it with more charms to the leader, who never lost sight of that policy.

That the [Northern] Government was apprehensive of some such movement is certain. The wildest rumors were prevalent in that country. It was said that Jackson had defeated all his opponents, had crossed the Potomac with an enormous army, and was then advancing on Washington. Terror reigned in the North.

We have seen that the “great force” at Jackson’s command was 15,000 men, and that a much larger force was about to close in on his rear. His position was critical in the extreme. Unless he moved with the greatest speed, and reached Strasburg before the junction of [Northern commanders] Fremont and Shields [4,000 men], his retreat would be cut off, and General McDowell, then at Front Royal [with 20,000 men], would achieve his design of “bagging Jackson.”   To defeat the designs of the enemy, and extricate his forces, was the object upon which he now concentrated all his skill, nerve and generalship.

On the speed of the “foot cavalry” depended the safety of the army; and if the larger portion marched, as they seem to have done, from the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry to Strasburg, nearly fifty miles, between the afternoon of the 30th and the night of the 31st of May, it is one of the swiftest marches on record. Jackson arrived in time, just in time . . . [and then] determined to attack Fremont, and hold him in check. Jackson was now comparatively safe. He had realized the prayer which his great namesake of the “Hermitage” uttered for a friend – he had “triumphed over all his enemies.”

[Jackson] had flanked them at Front Royal, pursued them from Middletown, beaten them at Winchester, chased them to the Potomac, filled Washington with alarm; and now, when their forces were closing in upon his rear to intercept him, he had passed between them with his prisoners and stores, struck them heavily as he retired, and was moving toward the upper Valley.

He had captured 2300 prisoners, 100 cattle, 34,900 pounds of bacon, flour, salt, sugar, coffee, hard bread, and cheese, $125,185 worth of quartermasters stores, $25,000 worth of sutler stores, immense medical stores, 9354 small-arms, two pieces of artillery, many cavalry horses . . . These results had been achieved with the loss of 68 killed, 329 wounded, and 3 missing – a total loss of 400. In ending his report, Jackson proudly reported that the battle of Winchester was, “on our part, a battle without a straggler.”

(Life of Stonewall Jackson, John Esten Cooke, D. Appleton and Company, 1876, pp. 158-161)