Ms. Gauntt's History Project Pathfinder.
Project Choices 1861- 1877 (Chapters 9 & 10)
The Assignment | Amendments to the Constitution| The African American Civil War Veteran -William Carney|Harriet Tubman Civil War Baloons | Civil War Cartoons | Ulysses S. Grant| Stonewall Jackson | References
Major Martin Robert Delany Ulysses S. Grant
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Civil War and one of the greatest U.S. generals of all time, Ulysses S. Grant was a controversial and, at best, mediocre president.
Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Pleasant Point, Ohio. His mother initially named him Hiram Ulysses Grant. Although some biographers have asserted that the S. stands for "Simpson," Grant insisted that he had no middle name beyond the letter "S." His father was in the leather tanning business, but young Grant disliked the trade. He did like to travel and often replaced his father on business trips so he could travel as widely as possible. Traveling widely became a dominant personal characteristic of Grant throughout his life. He attended public schools, but he did not do well until his father arranged for him to attend West Point. Young Grant was convinced he was not a good student, so he feared he would not even pass the entrance exams for the military academy. To his surprise, he passed easily, managed the military curriculum well, and graduated in the upper quarter of his class.
For two years after West Point, he pursued his duties in the infantry in Missouri, where he met and became engaged to his future wife, Julia Dent, the sister of one of his West Point classmates. After two years in peacetime service in Missouri and Louisiana, Grant joined the army under the command of General Zachary Taylor to fight in the Mexican War. The military life agreed with Grant, and he stayed in the army after the war was over, even though most of his West Point classmates returned to civilian life. He held the rank of captain, a high position in a peacetime army, but could not support his family. He eventually returned to civilian life, working at first for his father-in-law and then on his own. He was not successful in any of these business ventures. He was working with his brothers in their father's tanning and leather goods business when the Civil War broke out.
The Illinois governor, Richard Yates, appointed Grant to lead a ragtag volunteer unit, and he quickly turned it into a disciplined fighting force. In September 1861, Grant was elevated to the rank of brigadier general. After Grant's success in taking the Confederate strongholds at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February 1862, President Abraham Lincoln named him to the rank of major general.
Grant's success was the result of his conclusion that the existing theories of combat in his day were incomplete. The previous European model spent excessive attention on clockwork drill, polished dress, and maneuver. Grant simplified this to a strategy of seeking the best ground, massing his forces, and then fighting until the opposing army broke. His strong point in this strategy was his excellent administrative skill. At the same time, the strategy was expensive in terms of casualties, but it worked. Grant did not always win easy battles. The battle at Shiloh was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, and some of Grant'scritics wanted Lincoln to remove him. Lincoln turned aside that demand by asserting that Grant was one of the few northern generals who actually fought battles.
Grant continued to pursue his strategy of seeking to control the Mississippi, and he cut the Confederacy in two by capturing Vicksburg, the key city on the river. He next focused on the key rail center of Chattanooga, where the Union army was under siege. Grant's strategy there, as elsewhere, was to mass his troops and fight his way out. After he had broken out at Chattanooga, the entire state of Georgia laid almost completely undefended before Union troops. Grant assigned General William T. Sherman to drive through Georgia, cutting the Confederacy into two more parts. Grant then used the Army of the Potomac to isolate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Lincoln appointed Grant general-in-chief in March 1864. By April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Grant, for his part, wrote out generous terms of surrender that forestalled treason trials against his opponents.
After the assassination of President Lincoln, Grant was the most popular man in the northern United States following the Civil War, and he was courted by all political groups. His own inclination was to avoid political stands based on abstract ideas and to make his decisions on concrete facts. Thus, he was not interested in the states' rights position of politicians such as President Andrew Johnson, because that would lead to the hard fact that the leaders of the Confederacy would be restored to power in the southern states. Nor was Grant interested in an abstract principle, such as the racial justice ideal pursued by the Radical Republicans, because that created a number of impractical demands on government. Grant was closest to the practical approach of the moderate Republicans (sometimes referred to as the conservatives) who were prepared to insist that the South grant suffrage (or voting rights) to African Americans but would not push racial justice beyond that.
While Grant avoided political discussions and left himself open to all groups, he was the conservative Republicans' logical candidate for president in 1868. Because he had taken so few stands, many others concluded that he agreed with them whether he did or not. Intellectuals and reformers were particularly likely to assume that he shared their view that what the country needed was stable, well-administered government. Since wartime organization and administration were Grant's strengths, he was able to attract their support as well. The Radical Republicans were suspicious of him, but the effort to impeach President Johnson and the contentious struggle with the South reduced their popularity to the point where they had to support Grant or lose the election and have even less influence.
The Democratic Party nominated New York Governor Horatio Seymour as their presidential nominee. Even with Grant as their presidential nominee and their record of successfully prosecuting the war, the Republicans were only able to win by about 300,000 votes out of 5.7 million votes cast (53% of the popular vote). Grant began his administration with a reservoir of goodwill, given the popular sentiment for an end to the war and wartime controversies, but it dissipated as he attempted to grapple with the problems of Reconstruction and the economic problems the nation faced by the necessity of paying wartime debts.
Grant's strong suit would seem to have been administration, but administration would not answer the real political problems at stake. Reconstruction was not yet complete. Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas had not yet complied with the readmission requirement that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and write a state constitution providing for racial civil and political equality. The Radical Republicans continued to add stiffer conditions in these states, but the conservative Republicans and the Conservatives (meaning former Democratic and Whig opponents of the Radical Republicans) resisted them. In addition, the white Georgia legislators had expelled the African-American members from the legislature, which cast serious doubt on the degree to which political equality existed there.
In the international sphere, there was the important issue of settling claims with the British for their sometime unofficial support of the Confederacy. The British had built ships for the Confederacy and allowed Confederate raiders to use their harbors. Their ships had damaged U.S. shipping, so the United States sought reparations. Initially, Charles Francis Adams, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, had negotiated a settlement during the administration of President Johnson, but the Radical Republicans thought the result was too conciliatory, and the proposed treaty was rejected. Some Radical Republicans wanted war with Great Britain; others thought that the United States ought to receive the entire province of Canada as compensation. Fortunately, an international arbitration court in Geneva, Switzerland, finally resolved the issue peacefully in 1871.
The successful prosecution of the Civil War led to an exuberant desire for foreign adventure. The Spanish colony of Cuba was the scene of nearly continuous unrest from slave revolts. Having ended slavery in the United States, some reformers thought they should end it elsewhere in the hemisphere. Opinion was divided, so moderates were able to derail the Cuba initiative. There was less division initially over the annexation of Santo Domingo (now called the Dominican Republic), but eventually divisions arose and this initiative also became sidetracked.
Regarding the U.S. economy, a number of interrelated issues called for resolution, but the Grantadministration did not make much progress on them. The Civil War was financed largely through issuing bonds and printing paper currency unbacked by precious metals. To make the bonds attractive investments, they carried a high rate of interest and were made free from either federal or state taxation. The paper currency or "greenbacks" were declared to be legal tender for all debts. These policies together led to inflation throughout the war years. After the war, bondholders, backed by the intellectual economic opinion of the day, demanded a return to the use of specie (coins made of precious metals, such as gold or silver) or to currency backed by precious metals.
During the war, most of the wealth was in the northeastern part of the United States, so most of the bonds were sold there. These bondholders naturally wanted their bonds paid off in the hardest currency available, so they demanded a return to a currency backed by gold or silver. However, to repay the bonds meant taxes had to be raised. This tax increase applied to direct as well as indirect taxes, such as the tariff. The United States traditionally depended on tariffs for revenue, and the northeastern manufacturing interests were delighted to have high tariffs because it protected their markets within the country. The northeastern areas also favored the tightest banking system, a federal system in which federally chartered banks could buy bonds and issue bank notes on them. Again, such a system favored the northeast because that is where most of the banks were located.
In areas in the South and west of Ohio, all of these policies were devastating to business and farm interests alike. The lack of local banks in the South and West reduced the money supply. Shifting from greenbacks to hard currency also contracted the money supply. The tariff, on the other hand, raised prices that were harder to pay because of the contracted money supply.
Into this sectional controversy, Grant blundered badly. Grant was by all evidence personally honest, but prior to becoming president he had accepted some very large gifts from wealthy businessmen in the Northeast. In Philadelphia he was given a beautiful, fully furnished house, while New York businessmen came up with $100,000 in cash (a magnificent sum in those days). Not wishing to fall behind, businessmen in Washington, D.C., gave Grant a house and $75,000 in cash. When Grant followed the policies recommended by financial interests in the northeastern states, the knowledge that he had accepted these gifts created doubts about his impartiality.
The most egregious incident involved the financial speculators Jay Gould and Jim Fisk. These men formed a partnership with Grant's brother-in-law and a treasury official to take advantage of a treasury policy to corner the market on gold. The speculators thought they had Grant's concurrence, but he was, in fact, ignorant of their intentions. When it became clear that the speculators were about to corner the gold market, Grant suddenly ordered his treasury secretary to sell gold, flooding the market and destroying the scheme. Considerable economic damages still occurred. Worse for Grant was the fact that he had been seen with the speculators shortly before the scheme came to light, and this made it appear that he responded correctly only because he was caught.
None of these issues required Grant's administration skills. Instead, they required political skill to resolve. Though Grant was not strong in politics, he had appointed a cabinet filled with able personalities, except for his first secretary of the navy (who was quickly replaced). In spite of their capabilities, however, Grantdid not give them clear direction on the issue of patronage and civil service reform. Some cabinet officers attempted civil service reform, but others found it easier to yield their patronage issues to the Congress.
Indeed, the Congress had written the laws to strengthen the cabinet's power. The Tenure of Office Act, which had been passed to control President Andrew Johnson, was still on the books, and Congress refused to repeal it. The practical result was that Grant could not permanently remove any cabinet officer without congressional approval. If he did so, the Congress could refuse to confirm his new appointment and the old appointee would remain in place. Grant could be faulted for not using his prestige to have this law repealed, but he did not do so. With the law on the books, Congress was free to abuse the patronage power and they did—often with Grant taking the blame.
Still, the problems of the first Grant administration paled before the disaster of the second administration. Grant easily won the 1872 election against Democrat Horace Greeley, but in his second term, the economy collapsed, a situation caused in part by the currency contraction policies of his first term. On top of poor economic times, Americans were treated to the spectacle of repeated, serious corruption scandals within the Grant administration. That Grant did not personally benefit from them did not excuse him from the responsibility he had for the administration in which they occurred. To be sure, Congress's patronage policies were often the biggest culprit, but Grant never used his power and influence to restrain the Congress. As a result, there was little enthusiasm for giving Grant a third term in 1876.
After leaving the White House in 1877, Grant—an inveterate traveler—visited Europe and received a warm welcome wherever he went. Buoyed by this, he decided to extend the trip around the world over the next two years. This tour—the first of its kind by a U.S. president—also created goodwill for the United States. Upon returning to America, Grant again considered politics. The reform efforts of his successor, President Rutherford B. Hayes, were courageous but so angered the old guard Republicans that they begged and badgered Grant to attempt a run for a third term as president in 1880. Regardless of this enthusiasm, the Republicans were ultimately divided between Grant (backed by a faction known as the Stalwarts) and James G. Blaine (backed by another faction known as the Half-Breeds) and the nomination and the election went to James A. Garfield.
After the 1880 election, Grant became a partner in a Wall Street investment firm with his son and his son'sfriend, Fred Ward. Ward was a charlatan and simply absconded with Grant's money. Grant was bankrupt and was forced to sell many of his Civil War mementoes to raise money. When that was not enough, he undertook to write his memoirs. These memoirs concentrated on his military exploits and avoided his presidential years. They were published by Mark Twain, became a best-seller, and are still regarded as a model for memoirs of this type. Unfortunately, shortly after beginning the memoirs, Grant learned that he had throat cancer. Still, he continued to write despite the pain and finished the manuscript less than a month before he died on July 23, 1885.
Anderson, Nancy S. The Generals—Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. New York: Knopf, 1988.
Arnold, James R. Grant Wins the War: Decision at Vicksburg. New York: John Wiley, 1997.
Arnold, Matthew. General Grant. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995.
Boothe, F. Norton. Ulysses S. Grant. New York: Gallery Books, 1990.
Catton, Bruce. Grant Moves South. Boston: Little, Brown, 1988.
———. Grant Takes Command. New York: Book-of-the-Month Club, 1994.
Conger, A. L. The Rise of U. S. Grant. New York: Da Capo Press, 1996.
"Grant, Ulysses S." Available online. URL: http://www. whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ug17.html. Downloaded on October 20, 2001.
Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. New York: Penguin Books, 1999 (reprint).
Hankinson, Alan. Vicksburg 1863: Grant Clears the Mississippi. London: Osprey, 1993.
Kaltman, Al. Cigars, Whiskey, and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant. Paramus, N.J.: Prentice Hall Press, 1998.
Lowry, Don. Fate of the Country: The Civil War from June to September 1864. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1992.
———. No Turning Back: The Beginning of the End of the Civil War: March–June 1864. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1992.
———. Towards an Indefinite Shore: The Final Months of the Civil War, December 1864–May 1865. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1995.
Mauck, Jeffrey G. The Education of a Soldier: U. S. Grant in the War with Mexico. Carbondale, Ill.: American Kestrel Books, 1996.
Perret, Geoffrey. Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier and President. New York: Random, 1997.
Scaturro, Frank J. President Grant Reconsidered. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1998.
Simpson, Brooks D. The Reconstruction Presidents. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
———. Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
Neither side in the Civil War had gained or lost much by the summer of 1861 until a Southern religious fanatic first glared out from his mangy old forage cap at the Northern invaders. Thomas Jackson had been an oddball professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington when the war broke out. He could easily have escaped notice for the rest of his life. But this humorless, fire-and-brimstone Presbyterian knew how to train cadets. Together they went on a series of ungodly slaughters, carried out with Old Testament fury, against the invading Yankee infidels in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.
If Jackson showed no mercy with the enemy, he showed little more with his own men. A stern disciplinarian, he kept them marching all over the strategic Shenandoah. In no time his infantry could pop up anywhere, flying from place to place so swiftly that they became known as a "foot cavalry." Not once did Jackson lead his brigade to defeat, even against three armies at once. He seemed invincible to everyone, until he was accidentally shot down by one of his own men. Had Jackson lived, there's no telling how long the Confederacy could have held out.
Thomas Jackson was born on January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia, a second son and third child. His Scot-Irish father, Jonathan Jackson, formed a cavalry company in the War of 1812. Relatives had served in the U.S. Congress, and his cousin, Judge John Jackson, was married to the sister of Dolly Madison. Everyone seemed to like Jonathan Jackson, even when he became the tax collector for western Virginia. He was a generous man, who dipped into his own pocket sometimes when others were short on tax payments.
Unfortunately, Jonathan's generosity left his family destitute when he died in 1827. Tom was only three years old then, but already death seemed to surround him. Jackson's father had nursed his older sister, Elizabeth, until her death of typhoid fever at age 11—and lay dead a month later of the same illness. It was March of 1826. The very next day his widow, Julia, gave birth to another girl. Tom's widowed mother now had two young sons and a newborn daughter to raise.
First Julia moved the family into a nearby cottage. There she ran a small school for a few pupils, until she found a new suitor. He was a lawyer, like her deceased husband, and like him he was also inept at family finances. When the family moved to Fayette County, Julia took ill. Tom was then sent to live with his grandmother at Jackson Mill, far out in the boondocks. He never saw his stepfather again.
At Jackson Mill, Tom's Uncle Cummins was the head of the household. He was a big man, over six feet tall and a perennial bachelor. He took Tom under his wing, and the two of them often went creek-bank fishing together. Uncle Cummins liked fights and race horses, too, anything where there was gambling involved. He would sometimes saddle up young Tom on his racing ventures. Tom was no great rider, but he was sturdy in the saddle.
In 1831 Tom's mother sent for all her children. She was seriously ill, after just giving birth to Tom's stepbrother. She wanted to see her children for the last time. Tom was only seven, but he knew all too well that death was knocking on his family's door again.
Tom's older brother Warren had a big influence on him, especially after the death of their mother. One autumn morning the two set off together in a raft down the Ohio River. The pair returned months later, both bone-thin, with coughs and fevers. Warren's coughing persisted. By the time he was 19, Warren had passed on.
While he was still an adolescent, Tom was sent by his Uncle Cummins to a private school at the local courthouse. There he was taught by a justice of the peace and military historian who saw something special in him. He helped Tom win appointment as county constable, his first steady job, at age 17.
While constable, Tom continued to study. In 1842, he tried but failed to win an appointment to West Point. He had been edged out by a brighter young man who, as it turned out, resigned after a change of heart about the rigors of military life. Jackson, the runner-up, was tapped as a substitute. At age 18, he entered the gates of West Point wearing a weatherbeaten felt cap. All of his worldly belongings were packed in a pair of saddlebags. The backwoods were written all over him, but he had left the frontier forever.
Much handicapped by his poor preliminary education, Tom "studied very hard," by his own admission. He was so engrossed in his work that he said afterward he did not remember having spoken to a single woman during his whole cadetship. While he rose steadily in his grades, year by year, he was always behind. His persistence paid off when he graduated near the top of his class. His classmates nicknamed him "the General" after Andrew Jackson. By his fourth year, a joke went around his class of cadets. "If the General could stay here another year, he'd be number one in the class."
At 22 years old, Jackson left West Point, a breveted second lieutenant of artillery. It was June of 1846, and he had a war to go to in Mexico. Serving as a lieutenant in "Prince John" Magruder's battery, Jackson killed four Mexicans in hand-to-hand combat at La Jolla, and took three prisoners. Then he almost singlehandedly held off the Mexican cavalry, firing light cannon from a hilltop, while others scaled a massive wall at the fortress of Chapultepec near Mexico City. The victory at Chapultepec opened the way for the army to enter and occupy Mexico City, ending the war. In July 1848, Jackson returned from Mexico to the United States.
Back home, Jackson settled down to the comparatively dull routine of garrison life. He was first stationed at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on the barrack's court-martial board. Then he was transferred to Fort Hamilton on Long Island, 10 miles outside New York. Jackson loved New York. An avid reader, on trips to the city he would spend hours in the bookstalls on Fourth Avenue.
For a while he toyed with the idea of leaving the military. Before long, however, he was transferred to the frontier in the new state of Florida, where there had been frequent wars against Seminole Indians in past decades. In Florida, at Fort Meade, Jackson's legendary stubbornness surfaced in an ugly episode with Major William Henry French. Trouble was brewing after a scouting team led by Jackson failed to find any Seminole Indians. French feared that the whole reason for the fort's existence could be called into question. He blamed Jackson, a convenient scapegoat. Soon rumors began circulating, started by Jackson, that French had an extramarital appetite for a young servant girl.
When French traced the rumors back to their source, he had Jackson thrown in the brig. Charges and countercharges swamped their superior generals. The ugly episode came to an end when Jackson was released from jail and French was transferred. Jackson immediately resigned. In May 1851 he left Fort Meade for a professorship in philosophy and artillery tactics at Virginia Military Institute.
Jackson was not especially successful as a teacher and was the butt of many a joke. To the young cadets there, he was known as "Old Jack" or "Tom Fool." They considered him something of a martinet and a stickler for regulations. They knew that he had graduated from West Point and had won some honors for his service in the Mexican War. But to their youthful minds, all that was ancient history.
While he was at the institute in Lexington, Jackson found his chief satisfaction in travel and in the fellowship of the Presbyterian Church. Before long he was courting the local preacher's daughter, Ellie Junkin. Jackson had a fondness for dark-eyed brunettes like Ellie. The two were married in 1853. However, Ellie died in the fall of 1854, 14 months after the wedding and during a difficult pregnancy.
Jackson often spent his summer vacations in the North. In 1856, however, he traveled for five months in Europe. By fall, he was back at Virginia Military Institute and pursuing another dark-eyed brunette, Anna Morrison, who was also the daughter of a Presbyterian preacher. Jackson married her the following summer and settled into a sunny domestic routine. But death interceded again when their firstborn, Mary, died of jaundice at three months old.
Now Jackson's health was bothering him, too. Complaining about his hearing and eyesight, he put himself on a diet of plain brown bread, very little meat, and water. He also thought that if he had pepper in his food it would make his left leg ache. And he sucked constantly on lemons. The mysterious ailments grew worse. He put cold-water compresses on his eyes. He even drank poisonous ammonia solutions and chloroform liniment. Nothing seemed to work.
Jackson might have killed himself with his bizarre remedies if it weren't for the troubles between North and South. When Virginia withdrew from the Union in April of 1861, Virginia Military Institute went on a war footing. Four days later, Major Jackson moved the entire student body to Richmond for induction into the Confederate military forces.
Jackson deplored the prospect of war, which he described as the "sum of all evils." Yet if he had any qualms about fighting for the South, he kept them to himself. "I believe God has chosen that my place should be here," was all he said before leaving for Richmond. It was the last Jackson ever saw of Lexington.
Major Jackson was made a colonel in the Virginia forces and took command of Harpers Ferry, the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. This beautiful valley was the garden spot of Virginia. Threaded by year-round streams and filled with farmland and orchards, it formed an abundant agricultural-supply reserve for the Confederate army.
Training was lax at Harpers Ferry, but it commenced in earnest when Jackson arrived. He quickly whipped 2,100 Virginians and 400 Kentuckians into shape. At first his men did not care for him. Jackson had a strange quality of overlooking human suffering. During one of his battles, Jackson asked the whereabouts of a certain soldier. He was killed, a Virginian infantryman said. "Very commendable," Jackson replied.
Besides working his men too hard, he didn't look as if he could be a leader. He wore a weather-beaten cap and gigantic boots, with the plainest of uniforms, often mud-spattered. He frequently was seen lifting one of his arms to its full length above his head, as if invoking a divine blessing or judgment. Actually the gesture derived from nothing more than his belief that the arm was contracting and needed to be stretched.
Jackson's religious impulses became well-known throughout the army. On the eve of battle, he would rise several times during the night for prayer. And he was so strict an observer of the Sabbath that he would not even write his wife a letter when he thought it would be in transit on Sundays. Yet so many of his battles were fought on Sunday that his men suspected that he preferred to fight on that day because the Lord would be with him. His command, he said, was "an army of the living God as well as of its country."
The Stonewall Brigade got its first marching orders when Union troops were about to cross the Potomac and attack Harpers Ferry. Jackson took off and cut part of the B & O Railroad in Martinsburg. Then he moved his forces out of town and waited for the Yankees to cross the Potomac. When they did, Jackson and his brigade retreated.
Now with the enemy right on his tail, Jackson stopped dead in his tracks. The Union army suddenly jammed behind him for miles. Then he turned and attacked, sending the Yankees scrambling back into Martinsburg. It was Jackson's first chance to test a strategy that worked for him over and over again in the Shenandoah. Know your enemy well, get him to underrate you, then hit him with all you've got.
The North was served notice: Stonewall Jackson was a force to be reckoned with. More important, the Shenandoah Valley was proven to be a bulwark against attacks on the Confederate capital of Richmond. All of this was to Jackson's credit. On July 4, 1861, he was rewarded with a promotion to brigadier general.
There was no time for Jackson to rest on his laurels, however. Two weeks later, his superiors got word that the Union enemy was advancing on Manassas, Virginia, under General Irvin McDowell. Jackson had his brigade up and marching immediately toward Manassas, also known as Bull Run. They occupied Henry House Hill overlooking a blue mass of McDowell's Yankees. The Federal troops were clamoring toward him. He and his forces were about all that stood between the Union army and the Confederate capital of Richmond.
Jackson had a feel for battlefield position. He stuck to his guns and kept them quiet until the enemy forces were within 50 yards. Then he let them have it as they came up the hill. Artillery shells exploded on the advancing Northerners. While other Confederates wavered, Jackson steadfastly withstood the Federal onslaught at a critical moment. It was here that he was given his famous nickname. "Look," one general shouted as his own troops retreated, "there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!" The sobriquet—Stonewall—stayed with Jackson from then on.
The Yankees attacked again in increasing desperation. Stonewall Jackson urged his men to scream like banshees. The "rebel yell" first heard that day would echo from a thousand battlefields. The Union line staggered and fell back, slowly at first, but soon the army was in full retreat. In what became known as the "Great Skeddadle," Union gun carriages became entangled in the buggies of fleeing spectators who had come out from Washington to watch the battle.
The loss, however, did more for the Union than the victory did for the Confederacy. The South, reassured that it could whip the Yankees, still believed the war would be over soon, while the North began to prepare for a long, bloody conflict. Jackson, with his prestige much increased by this battle, became a major general.
In the months immediately succeeding Bull Run, however, he mysteriously disappeared from view, a way he had, as his antagonists were soon to learn. Jackson was almost forgotten, and for a time it seemed that the vital Shenandoah Valley was to know his presence no more.
At the opening of the campaign of 1862, however, Jackson began to loom again upon the military horizon. The fortunes of the Confederacy seemed then at low ebb. But Stonewall Jackson, at least, was delivering strikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In February, Jackson learned that U.S. General Nathaniel Banks had crossed over to Harpers Ferry and was heading for the Shenandoah Valley. Specifically, he was going to Winchester with 40,000 men, under direct orders from President Lincoln to remove the pesky Jackson from the valley.
Jackson's little army had dwindled to barely 3,600 infantrymen by the time Union forces had occupied Winchester. The Yankees outnumbered the Stonewall Brigade ten to one, but Jackson was determined to keep them pinned in the valley. Two days later the brigade reached Kernstown, four miles south of Winchester.
At Kernstown, Jackson's plan to keep the Union forces confined to the valley looked as if it might unravel. The Northerners had tricked him into thinking their massed army was a rearguard action. Still, Jacksonrefused to retreat. He would never think of retreating. "This army stays here until the last wounded man is removed," he said. "Before I lose them to the enemy, I will lose many more men."
As night fell, Jackson was pushed back with heavy losses, but the Northerners had had enough for one day. Jackson took the opportunity to head south. It was the first and only time he would withdraw from battle. For a time, the fame he had gained after Bull Run was tarnished.
Rumor spread that Jackson was dangerously reckless and that he became insane when excited. It was not until the Shenandoah Valley campaign developed further that the Confederacy realized what a strategic victory he had won: Banks had been kept in the valley instead of going down to Richmond to help Union General McClellan.
At this point, Jackson got the idea that he could turn his infantry into "foot cavalry," an unsaddled force capable of marching nearly as far in a day as a real cavalry force could ride. He began to drill and drill, and seemed always on the march. Jackson's temper flared with stragglers. Deserters could expect to be shot.
Meanwhile, McClellan's Union army had been advancing toward Richmond since April. In May, Jacksonstarted an offensive campaign in the Shenandoah to prevent McClellan from getting additional reinforcements from the Union armies in the valley. Jackson opened the campaign by marching his troops toward the Allegheny Mountains.
On May 8, he attacked Major General John Fremont at the battle of McDowell. The Union was defeated and withdrew to the west. Jackson then marched his troops and, on May 23, overwhelmed a small part of Banks's army at Front Royal, Virginia. When Banks tried to make a break for Winchester, Jackson chased him into town and attacked. Banks's spooked army, which hadn't had a moment to rest, panicked and fled. The Stonewall Brigade captured another 2,500 Yankees and pursued the rest.
The citizens of Washington trembled in fear that Jackson might appear on their streets. President Lincoln, who had had about enough of Jackson, ordered Fremont to attack him from the south. Lincoln also ordered Banks to advance from the north while General McDowell came into the valley from Fredericksburg, to the east. Jackson turned his army south and, with several forced marches, escaped the Union trap, then attacked and defeated these converging armies separately. That ended the valley campaign as Jackson's army boarded trains for Richmond to aid Confederate General Robert E. Lee's army on the Richmond Peninsula.
In just over a month his men had marched almost 400 miles, inflicted 7,000 casualties, and seized huge quantities of badly needed supplies. "He who does not see the hand of God in this is blind," said Jackson. His lightning marches had tied up three separate armies, numbering almost 40,000 troops, which otherwise might have reinforced McClellan on the peninsula. This may have been Jackson's single greatest contribution to the Southern cause.
Now Lee summoned Jackson to Richmond to stop the Union advance on the Confederate capital. But a strange thing happened to Jackson. He seemed to take leave of his senses. He developed a mysterious, debilitating weariness. Instead of moving with the dispatch that he was famous for, he let his army rest. His failure to act quickly was responsible for a bloody Confederate loss along Beaver Dam Creek. It also helped to unravel Lee's elaborate plan to envelop Union General McClellan.
All was not lost, however. Jackson managed to shake off whatever it was that was ailing him. He knew that he had disappointed Lee, a man he had said he would follow into battle anywhere. He desperately wanted to please him. Lee told his prized lieutenant to forget the day's loss. At Cold Harbor, along the Chickahominy River eight miles from the Confederate capital, Lee watched the back of Jackson's grimy gray uniform riding to the battle. Before long, he heard the familiar rebel yell. Jackson was in the midst of his men, sprinting across the fields. Eight thousand Confederates fell, but the Federal line broke, and the Yankees turned tail and retreated.
Jackson marched off to find more Yankees across a bridge over White Oak Swamp. When he arrived there, however, he was so close to physical collapse that his mind was barely functioning. The peculiar weariness had overcome him again. Frozen stiff, he sat out the final portion of the Seven Days' Battle.
Jackson had certainly not lived up to his reputation in the Seven Days' Battle, but he still received good press. In Richmond, he was discomfited to find himself accorded celebrity status. The citizenry flocked around him on the streets. Lee retained full faith in Jackson as well, calling on him to stop yet another threat.
Lee had word that McClellan had been ordered to join Union General John Pope. The tall, bombastic Pope, with his 70,000-strong army, was charging into northern Virginia. Lee and Jackson had decided to divide the army temporarily and to send Jackson by way of Thoroughfare Gap to Manassas Junction, Pope's advance base. Almost at once, Jackson loaded his men's haversacks with three days' rations.
Jackson slipped away on a blitzkrieg march, covering 51 miles in two days. He destroyed two trains, but another two got away. Now the cat was out of the bag. The element of surprise had been blown. Instead of Jackson trapping Pope, Pope was trapping Jackson. Pope's huge army was closing in from both sides like a vise.
Jackson was cornered in the mountains but kept his wits about him. He hid his men in the trees, waiting for Pope's approaching army. As part of it came upon him, the shriek of the rebel yell went out. Jackson's 20,000 men attacked. At the end of the day, Jackson had accomplished his goal. He had attracted Pope's undivided attention. Pope by now had had enough of Jackson and his Stonewall Brigade. The very next day he sent his full army straight at them.
The full might of Pope's army marched up Warrentown Pike and began firing cannon. Vastly outnumbered, the Stonewall Brigade could only muster a thin defense. Then a cry of relief went out among them. A wave of gray columns was moving down on the Yankees from an opposite hill. It was General James Longstreet's 30,000-man wing of Lee's army, which had arrived on the field opposite Pope. The welcome reinforcements rained cannon fire down on the Yankees while Jackson hurled his force at them from the other side. Pope's forces wisely withdrew in full retreat.
Jackson's victory at the battle of Second Bull Run had offset Confederate losses in the West and cleared the way for Lee's invasion of the North. Now Lee moved into Maryland on his first invasion, a Union garrison at the town of Harpers Ferry became a threat to the rear of the Confederate army. Jackson was asked to take Harpers Ferry before meeting Lee across the Potomac.
The town sits astride the confluence of two rivers, beneath three hills to the north, south and west. On the morning of September 15, Jackson was preparing to attack the left flank of the Union line from the west, but the attack became unnecessary when a single Confederate artillery barrage was met with a white flag of surrender.
As Jackson rode into Harpers Ferry, Union troops lined the streets to cheer him. One of the surrendered Union soldiers was heard to say, "Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him, we wouldn't have been caught in this trap."
The quick victory enabled Jackson to catch up with Lee in Maryland in time to confront McClellan's army with their combined forces. Jackson had his troops up by midnight and marching off in the moonlight. Walking 60 miles in three days, the foot cavalry couldn't recall their last full night's sleep. They were now on Northern soil; and Jackson ordered them into position at Antietam Creek.
What followed for both sides was nothing less than wholesale slaughter, the bloodiest single day of the Civil War. Jackson's battle lines had wavered but held, as thousands of soldiers on both sides fell. He chased the retreating Union troops across a cornfield, only to be repulsed with even heavier losses. When his part of the battle was finally over, Jackson surveyed the dead. Looking out over the field of corpses, he turned to his medical superintendent and said, "God has been very kind to us this day."
That evening, Jackson joined Lee's war counsel and agreed with the others. They were still pinned against Antietam Creek. Good sense dictated that they return to safety. Jackson gave the advice he hated to give—retreat. That night the Southerners built campfires and slipped across the Potomac and back to Virginia.
Tactically, the battle was a draw, but it was a moral, political, and diplomatic victory for the North. Still, Jackson was promoted after Antietam to the rank of lieutenant general.
About the same time, the new commander of the Union's Army of the Potomac had crossed into Virginia. General Ambrose Burnside's plan was to move against Richmond by way of Fredericksburg, in normal times a prosperous town on the Rappahannock River. Burnside's Army of the Potomac made a swift march to Falmouth, a town across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, at a time when the Southern army was widely separated. But due to Burnside's incompetence and a delay in getting pontoon bridges, Lee had time to concentrate his army in the Fredericksburg area.
By December 12 the Union troops had crossed the river, and Burnside started the attack the next morning. The Northerners attacked Jackson but sputtered, giving him enough time to repair his line of defense. Around noon, Burnside attacked a strong Southern position west of the town, where rebel infantry stood behind a stone wall with artillery massed on Marye's Heights above them. The attacks were suicidal as none of Burnside's men got within 20 yards of the stone wall. Darkness finally ended the slaughter. Two days later, under cover of darkness and a heavy rain, the Army of the Potomac recrossed the Rappahannock River. It had been an unmitigated disaster for the Yankees. Another "On to Richmond" drive was stopped. But Jackson was getting more impatient with each invasion.
As spring arrived, he was preparing to meet the enemy again. This time the latest commander of the Army of the Potomac, Joseph Hooker, had come up with another plan to attack Fredericksburg. To stop him, Jackson led his ragged army down through the Wilderness, a seemingly endless forest of scrub brush and timber. Leaving 10,000 of his 37,000 men to hold off the Union left wing, he moved westward into the Wilderness of Spotsylvania to join Lee who was facing the main Union army.
Jackson's foot cavalry marched 20 to 30 miles a day through the thick forest. His men waved their gray caps wildly in the air whenever he rode by. They even prayed with him. Jackson's religious conviction had spread like a fever to his men. Revival tents were set up around camp. Jackson could not have been more pleased with the new religious spirit, but he also knew the importance of his mission. If Hooker turned and attacked, Lee would be crushed.
The fighting began on May 1 when troops led by Jackson challenged Hooker's advance on the Orange Turnpike and Orange Plank Road. Hooker had somehow persuaded himself that Jackson was actually retreating. Unaware of Jackson's presence, the Union troops had been boiling coffee when deer came bounding out of the forest and through their camp. Jackson's army was right behind them. Hooker, who admitted that he "lost his nerve," fell back nearly two miles to a defensive position around Chancellorsville crossroads. Darkness and confusion in the Confederate commands ended Jackson's advance.
Eager to fight on, Jackson rode out between the lines that evening to scout for a night attack. But if the dense woods were good for hiding in, their darkness also made organization impossible. On his way back, nervous Confederate pickets opened fire. Two of Jackson's aides fell dead, shot by their own men. Then another volley. Jackson was hit twice in the left arm. Another bullet hit his right hand.
Jackson was carried to a field hospital. On the way, he was dropped in a fall that shattered his left arm. The arm was removed before gangrene could set in and kill him. Lee was horrified. "He has lost his left arm," Lee said. "I have lost my right."
When Jackson came around from the operation, he seemed to be recuperating. He listened to field reports and gave instructions to his field commanders to force Hooker back. And as the Stonewall Brigade made its last grand charge to victory at Chancellorsville, they cried, "Remember Jackson!" and won the day.
Jackson's high fever kept climbing, however. Then, on Sunday, he took a turn for the worse. Pneumonia was killing him, not the loss of his arm. As he slipped into delirium, Lee continued to worry. The North had been whipped at Chancellorsville. Yet the South had paid sorely for the victory. "Surely General Jacksonmust recover," Lee said. "God will not take him from us now, not when we need him the most."
In his bedroom, Jackson drifted in and out of consciousness. His surgeon said he would not last the day. "Oh no, my child," Jackson said, when told by his wife. "It's not that serious." Finally, she told him he'd be with the Lord that day. "Good. Very good," Jackson replied. "I always wanted to die on a Sunday."
When they offered him brandy or morphine, Jackson declined, saying he wanted to keep his mind clear. He grew quiet for a spell, then said in a clear, distinct voice: "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shady tree." Then he died.
Today Stonewall Jackson speaks to those who refuse to be defeated against all odds. How he outmaneuvered, escaped from, and ultimately vanquished three separate armies, each larger than his own, is still a subject of study in military schools. Many critics regard his Shenandoah campaign as the most remarkable display of strategy in all of American military history. Fundamentally, it was based on sound reasoning and the accurate reading of his enemy's plans.
But Jackson was much more than a strategic genius. He was a brilliant inspiration to his men, emerging by surprise from mountain passes and flinging himself upon Union forces with fanatical zeal. It seems that the nickname conferred upon him early in the war was a bit of a misnomer. The "stone wall" had a fabulous mobility.
Civil War historian Shelby Foote says it was Jackson's strange combination of religious fanaticism and glory in battle that made him successful. "He was totally fearless," says Foote, "and he had no thought whatsoever of any danger once a battle was on."
Bowers, John. Stonewall Jackson, Portrait of a Soldier. New York: Avon Books, 1989. An extremely well-written biography of Jackson as a brilliant enigma.
Carpenter, Allan. Stonewall Jackson: The Eccentric Genius. Vero Beach: Rourke Publications, 1987. Profiles the personality of Jackson as a Confederate general.
Farwell, Byron. Stonewall: A Biography of General Thomas J. Jackson. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992. Solid biography that is very thorough.
Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend. New York: Macmillan, 1997. An adult biography.
Royster, Charles. The Destructive War. New York: Knopf, 1991. An interesting examination of Jackson's marches in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Bill of Rights is considered the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Consititution. Click the image above to see Amendments 11 -27 (Click the picture.)
In addition to the links on the Civil War provided here, you may also access several volumes in the library. Please see the librarian.
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Citation Example for the above Facts On File Database Article:
Reef, Catherine. "African Americans in the military." African Americans in the Military, A to Z of African Americans. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
This pathfinder is meant to point you in the right direction in your research assignment for Ms. Gauntt's History class. It is by no means a complete representation of the history resources available on the subject of the Civil War. At the bottom of this pathfinder you will find a bibliography of books, biographies, etc. that you should also investigate.
This pathfinder provided to you by Elizabeth Massaro, Educational Media Specialist, Willingboro High School. December 2017.