Monday, July 14, 2008

Colonel Wolseley Visits Stonewall Jackson

Fresh from campaigns in the Crimea, India, and China, Colonel Garnet Wolseley--later Lord Wolseley--was ordered to Canada as quartermaster general in December 1861. In August of the next year, he applied for leave of absence and, without the approval of his superiors, made his way into the Confederate States and visited scenes of recent battles, and the headquarters of Lee and Jackson. Already favorable to the Confederate cause, his enthusiasm was confirmed by what he saw. His account of his month's visit to Confederate Headquarters which appeared anonymously in Blackwood's Magazine, aroused widespread interest in Britain and America.

Here is his the portion of the article that deals with his visit to Jackson's headquarters.

We drove to Bunker's Hill, six miles nearer Martinsburg, as which place Stonewall Jackson, now of world wide celebrity, had his headquarters. With him we spent a most pleasant hour, and were agreeably surprised to find him very affable, having been led to expect that he was silent and almost morose. Dressed in his grey uniform, he looks the hero that he is; and his thin compressed lips and calm glance, which meets yours unflinchingly, give evidence of that firmness and decision of character for which he is so famous. He has a broad open forehead, from which the hair is well brushed back; a shapely nose, straight, and rather long; thin colorless cheeks, with only a very small allowance of whisker; a cleanly shaven upper lip and chin; and a pair of fine greyish-blue eyes, rather sunken, with overhanging brows, which intensify the keeness of his gaze, but without imparting any fierceness to it. Such are the general characteristics of his face; and I have only to add, that a smile seems always lurking about his mouth when he speaks; and that, though his voice partakes slightly of that harshness which Europeans unjustly attribute to all Americans, there is much unmistakable cordiality in his manner; and to us he talked most affectionately of England, and of his brief but enjoyable sojourn there.

The religious element seems strongly developed in him; and though his conversation is perfectly free from all puritanical cant, it is evident that he is a person who never loses sight of the fact that there is an omnipresent Deity ever presiding over the minutest occurrences of life, as well as over the most important.

Altogether, as one of his soldiers said to me in talking of him, "he is a glorious fellow!" and, after I left him, I felt that I had at last solved the mystery of the Stonewall Brigade, and discovered why it was that it had accomplished such almost miraculous feats. With such a leader men would go anywhere, and face any amount of difficulties; and for myself, I believe that, inspired by the presence of such a man, I should be perfectly insensible to fatigue, and reckon upon success as a moral certainty.

Whilst General Lee is regard in the light of infallible Jove, a man to be reverenced, Jackson is loved and adored with all that childlike and trustful affection which the ancients are said to have lavished upon the particular deity presiding over their affairs. The feeling of the soldiers for General Lee resembles that which Wellington's troops entertained for him -- namely, a fixed and unshakable faith in all he did, and a calm confidence of victory when serving under him. But Jackson, like Napoleon, is idolized with that intense fervor which, consisting of mingled personal attachment and devoted loyalty, causes them to meet death for his sake, and bless him when dying.