He habitually rode an old sorrel horse, leaning forward in a most unmilitary seat, and wore a sun-browned cap, dingy gray uniform, and a stock, into which he would settle his chin in a queer way, as he moved along with abstracted look. He paid little heed to camp comforts, and slept on the march, or by snatches under trees, as he might find occasion; often begging a cup of bean-coffee and a bit of hard bread from his men, as he passed them in their bivouacs, He was too uncertain in his movements, and careless of self, for any of his military family to be able to look after his physical welfare. In fact, a cold occasioned by lending his cloak to one of his staff, a night or two before Chancellorsville, was the primary cause of the pneumonia, which, setting in upon his exhausting wounds, terminated his life.
Jackson was himself a bad disciplinarian. Nor had he even average powers of organization. He was in the field quite careless of the minutiae of drill. But he had a singularly happy faculty for choosing men to do his work for him. He was a very close calculator of all his movements. He worked out his manoeuvres to the barest mathematical chances, and insisted upon the unerring execution of what he prescribed; and above all be believed in mystery. Of his entire command, he alone knew what work he had cut out for his corps to do. And this was carried so far that it is said the men were often forbidden to ask the names of the places through which they marched. “Mystery,” said Jackson, “mystery is the secret of success in war, as in all transactions of human life.”
Jackson was a professing member of the Presbyterian Church, and what is known as a praying man. By this is meant, that, while he never intentionally paraded or obtruded upon his associates his belief in the practical and immediate effect of prayer, he made no effort to hide his faith or practice from the eyes of the world. In action, while the whole man was wrought up to the culminating pitch of enthusiasm, and while every fibre of his mind and heart was strained towards the achievement of his purpose, his hand would often be instinctively raised upwards; and those who knew him best, believed this to be a sign that his trust in the help of a Higher Power was ever present.
Jackson was remarkable as a fighter. In this he stands with but one or two peers. Few men in the world’s history have ever got so great results from armed men as he was able to do. But to judge rightly of his actual military strength is not so easy as to award this praise. Unless a general has commanded large armies, it is difficult to judge of how far he may be found wanting if tried in that balance. In the detached commands which he enjoyed, in the Valley and elsewhere, his strategic ability was marked: but these commands were always more or less limited; and, unlike Lee or Johnston, Jackson did not live long enough to rise to the command of a large army upon an extended and independent field of operations.