Friday, July 18, 2008

Who Could Not Conquer With Such Troops as These? - Part Two

Below is the conclusion to Dabney's article.

On the morning of the 26th, he (Jackson) turned eastward, and passing through the Bull Run Mountains, at Thoroughfare Gap, proceeded to Bristoe Station, on the Orange Railroad, by another equally arduous march. At Gainesville, he was joined by Stuart, with his cavalry, who now assumed the duty of guarding his right flank and watching the main army of Pope about Warrenton. As the Confederates approached Bristoe Station, about sunset, the roar of a railroad train proceeding eastward was heard and dispositions were made to arrest it by placing the brigade of Hays, under Colonel Forno, across the track. The first train broke through the obstructions placed before it and escaped. Two others which followed it were captured but were found to contain nothing.

The corps of Jackson had now marched fifty miles in two days. The whole army of Pope was interposed between it and its friends. They had no supplies whatever, save those which the might capture from the enemy. But they were between the enemy and his capital and were cheered by the hope of inflicting a vital blow upon him before he escaped. This movement would be pronounced wrong if judged by a formal and common-place application of the maxims of the military art. But it is the very prerogative of true genius to know how to modify the application of those rules according to circumstances. It might have been objected that such a division of the Confederate Army into two parts; subjected to the risk of being beaten in detail; that while the Federal commander detained and amused one by a detachment, he would turn upon the other with the chief weight of his forces and crush it into fragments. Had Pope been a Jackson this danger would have been real; but because Pope was but Pope and General Lee had a Jackson to execute the bold conception and a Stuart to mask his movements during its progress, the risk was too small to forbid the attempt. The promptitude of General Stuart in seizing the only signal station whence the line of march could possibly be perceived and the secrecy and rapidity of General Jackson in pursuing it. with the energy of his action when he had reached his goal, ensured the success of the movement.