In Gen. Lee, Jackson reposed an implicit faith. “He is the only man I would follow blindfold,” said Jackson. And Lee’s confidence in his lieutenant’s ability to carry out any scheme he set his hand to, was equally pronounced. Honestly, though with too much modesty, did Lee say: “Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead.”
But, illy as Lee could spare Jackson, less still could the Army of Northern Virginia spare Robert E. Lee, the greatest in adversity of the soldiers of our civil war. Still, after Jackson’s death, it is certain that Lee found no one who could attempt the bold manoeuvres on the field of battle, or the hazardous strategic marches, which have illumined the name of Jackson to all posterity.
It is not improbable that had Jackson lived, and risen to larger commands, he would have been found equal to the full exigencies of the situation. Whatever he was called upon to do, under limited but independent scope, seems to testify to the fact that he was far from having reached his limit. Whatever he did was thoroughly done; and he never appears to have been taxed to the term of his powers, in any operation which he undertook.
Honesty, singleness of purpose, true courage, rare ability, suffice to account for Jackson’s military success. But those alone who have served under his eye know to what depths that rarer, stranger power of his has sounded them: they only can testify to the full measure of the strength of Stonewall Jackson.
The position at Fairview.
Gen. Hooker’s testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War comprises almost every thing which has been officially put forth by him with reference to this campaign. It therefore stands in lieu of a report of operations, and it may be profitable to continue to quote from it to some extent. His alleged intention of withdrawing from Chancellorsville is thus explained. After setting forth that on the demolition of the Eleventh Corps, the previous evening, he threw Berry into the gap to arrest Jackson, “and if possible to seize, and at all hazards hold, the high ground abandoned by that corps,” he says:—
“Gen. Berry, after going perhaps three-quarters of a mile, reported that the enemy was already in possession of the ground commanding my position, and that he had been compelled to establish his line in the valley on the Chancellorsville side of that high ground. As soon as this was communicated to me, I directed Gens. Warren and Comstock to trace out a new line which I pointed out to them on the map, and to do it that night, as I would not be able to hold the one I then occupied after the enemy should renew the attack the next morning.”
“The position” at Dowdall’s “was the most commanding one in the vicinity. In the possession of the enemy it would enable him with his artillery to enfilade the lines held by the Twelfth and Second Corps.” “To wrest this position from the enemy after his batteries were established upon it, would have required slender columns of infantry, which he could destroy as fast as they were thrown upon it.” Slender columns of infantry were at this time among Hooker’s pet ideas.