Gambar halaman

it, it is too painful to talk about," and seemed to give way to grief. It was the saddest night I ever passed in my life ; and when I saw this great man so much moved, and look as if he could weep, my cup of sadness was filled to overflowing. I got up and walked out of his tent, or rather from under his blanket, or something of the sort stretched over him for a shelter — I think it was an oil-cloth blanket. Colonel Taylor then called me to him, and the rest of the staff gathered around to hear the sad tidings, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the whole party as I related the affair to them. About the time I had finished relating it, General Lee came out, booted and spurred, and ordered bis horse and his staff to be ready to ride as quickly as possible. Calling me to him, he took me in and spread out before me, with his own hands, a nice breakfast, taking it from a basket which had been sent him by some lady in the neighborhood, and made me sit down and eat. He ordered me to lie down right

here and sleep and rest as soon as I had eaten. As I finished eating he mounted his horse, and just then Capt. Hotchkiss came up — this was just before day. I started off with General Lee, but he made me go back, and told me to lie down and rest, saying, “I know you rode all night, and the greater portion of the night previous, and you must have rest.” So I rested until the battle began, and then joined my command again.

I have written you hurriedly, but have given the facts, which you can put into shape. If there is any part not sufficiently clear, please call my attention to it, and I will explain. If Wynn should remember anything not given, in connection with the solitary rider, or anything different from what I have written, I will write it to you as soon as I see him, which will be very soon.

I have given you a very rough sketch, as I had to write in great haste for want of time, but hope it will answer your purpose.

I think this sketch, with the article endorsed and marked to show the portion furnished by me, and the part referred to in Dabney's Life of Jackson, will be sufficient to give a correct and connected account of the whole transaction.

I am often questioned about the affair, and nearly every one says that it was strange that General Jackson should give an order to troops to fire at every thing, and especially cavalry, approaching from the direction of the enemy, and then go and place himself in a situation to be fired on himself. I heard of no such order, and feel sure no order of the kind was given. If there had been such an order, it would have been given to the skirmishers; and there would have been no necessity for such an order to them, as they would certainly fire any way. Even if the General had given such an order, he was not going contrary to it, as he thought there was a skirmish line in front to which he was going. There proved to be no such line - not even a picket or a vidette — and hence the wounding of General Jack

son. The failure to have out a skirmish line was really the cause of his being fired on, and whoever was at fauit in that matter is the party to blame, and is responsible for the accident.* I don't know whose was the fault, but have an opinion which I don't care to express. The troops who wounded the General were not to blame, and as it would only make them feel badly to know that they had been the innocent cause of his wounds and death, it is best not to give publicity to the fact who they were.

*In advancing upon the enemy, firing, it was impossible to keep a line of skirmishers in front, unless the line of battle was prevented from firing. By getting mixed together, the divisions commanded by Rodes and Colston had been thrown into much confusion, and a skirmish line could not be sent out from either of them. While Hill's division was coming up into line and relieving the other troops, it was impracticable for some time to throw out skirmishers, so that, probably the failure to have such a line at the time was really the fault of no one, but was inseparable from the situation of affairs.- J. A. E.

Very truly yours,

R. E. WILBOURN. General J. A. Early.

It is very manifest from the authorities now furnished that the whole story of General Revere is a fiction, or that the “ Lieutenant Jackson ” with whom he travelled on the steamer up the Mississippi and Ohio in 1852 was not the same person with the world-renowned commander of the 2d Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia ; as well as that the cavalcade which rode so near to General Revere on his picket line on the night of the 2d of May, 1863, was not composed of General Jackson and his party; and that the "group of several persons gathered around a man lying upon the ground, apparently badly wounded,” alleged to have been seen by General Revere when he rode out alone on the plank-road, did not consist of Captain Wilbourn and his companion Wynn, of the Signal Corps, who were the only persons with General Jackson when their attention was attracted to a man on horseback near them, just as they were bearing the General from the road into the woods.

It must be remembered that General Jackson had been brevetted a major in the United States army in 1847 for his gallant conduct in Mexico, and if he had been in that army in 1852 he would have borne the title of major, and would have worn the insignia of his brevet rank, according to the custom then prevailing, though his actual rank in the line may have been only that of a lieutenant. The statement of General Smith, Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, however, puts the question at rest, and shows that it was impossible for the Lieutenant Jackson of whom General Revere speaks to have been Stonewall Jackson, as the latter had located at the Institute in the summer of 1851, and did not make a trip South in 1852. In 1852 General Jackson had severed his connection with the United States army, though it appears from Cullum's biographical register of officers and graduates of West Point that his resignation did not take effect until the 29th of February, 1852; but it was a very frequent occurrence for the time for an officer's resignation to take effect to be postponed for some months after he was relieved-from duty. The same register shows that General Jackson was a professor at the Institute in 1851, and Dabney's life of him shows that he was admitted a member of the Presbyterian Church at Lexington, Virginia, on the 22d of November, 1851, he having been baptised as a professing Christian two or three years before at Fort Hamilton, New York.

There was a Lieutenant Thomas K. Jackson who graduated two

years after General Jackson, and who was in the United States army in 1852, where he remained until the breaking out of the war, when he joined the Confederate army. It is possible that General Revere may have met that officer under the circumstances stated by him, and may have fallen into the error of supposing that it was he who became known as Stonewall Jackson.

The story of Captain Wilbourn is given as he has related it, though he authorised the writer of this to put it into shape; but it is in so much better shape than one who was not an eye-witness could give to the narrative, that it has been thought best to leave it as it came from the pen of the author; and his statement of minor circumstances, which by some may be thought unnecessary, has been allowed to stand, because those circumstances serve to give in the eyes of the general public that air of entire truthfulness to the whole narrative, for which it will be readily given credit by all who had an opportunity of knowing the most estimable and worthy officer and gentleman by whom it is furnished. In a previous letter he says that he sent to two gentlemen, whom he names, “at their request, an account of the wounding of General Jackson at the time, as did other members of the staff and Major Leigh, who that night acted as aide-decamp to General Hill, but both of them got the different accounts so mixed that they gave a somewhat confused idea of it"; and this furnishes a conclusive reason for not tampering with the very distinct and intelligible narrative of the Captain.

To make that complete, some extracts from an account published in a Richmond paper in 1865 are embodied in the letter of Captain Wilbourn, so distinguished from what he now writes as not to be mistaken for any part of that. These extracts are endorsed by him as substantially correct, though couched in language somewhat changed from his own. The paragraph in regard to the solitary horseman is also given, notwithstanding he says that this, though taken from his own account, is so much changed “as to make it appear more like a romance than reality.” It is, however, now fully explained, and the true coloring is given to it by his very clear statement. With Captain Wilbourn's explanation of the real circumstances of this incident, the whole narrative may be accepted as entirely authentic, subject to the following explanations.

As, in the various accounts of the battle, the plank-road and the old stone-turnpike are frequently mentioned without the distinction between them being always observed, it is thought proper to state that the two roads are nearly parallel to each other for the greater part of the way from Orange C. H., the old stone-turnpike being north of the plank-road; but at the Wilderness Church, about two miles west of Chancellorsville, the two roads unite and run together from that point to the latter place. West of the Wilderness Church General Jackson had crossed the plank-road to the old stone-turnpike and moved along the latter, with his lines across it at right-angles, until he struck the enemy, and until the two roads united; so that in the description of the movements made after the enemy's right had been routed, including the circumstances attending his wounding, the two terms indicate the same road. This road is briefly designated by Captain Wilbourn as the “pike."

His account of the whole affair shows how very erroneous are the generally received accounts; and it now appears that instead of riding to the front to reconnoitre the enemy and then imprudently galloping back towards his own line, General Jackson was slowly riding to the front, while making every effort to hurry forward the troops, when he was fired upon by a portion of his own men on the right (south) of the road and obliquely from the rear, and that then the horses of his party that were not shot down wheeled to the left, and he galloped into the woods on the left to escape the fire, when he was fired upon by another body of troops on the north side of the road. This firing, lamentable as were its consequences, was in both instances the result of accident, or rather of that confusion inevitable in all attempts to operate with troops in the dark while they are under excitement. The writer of this has perhaps been under fire as often as any man of his day, and the result of his experience and observation has been to convince him that the dangers attending offensive movements of troops in the night, especially in the forepart of the night, when the opposite side is on the alert, from mistakes or collision on the part of those taking the offensive, are not counterbalanced by any advantages likely to result; and to sustain him in this opinion he can confidently appeal to the judgment of those who have had any experience. In operating in a thickly. wooded country the dangers are increased very greatly.* While, therefore, Captain Wilbourn's statement of facts is to be accepted without hesitation, it is not by any means certain that he is right in his opinion that the wounding of General Jackson was due to the failure to leave a line of skirmishers in front, as the troops who commenced the firing were probably not aware of the fact. Captain R. H. T. Adams, the officer mentioned as having caused two of the advancing Federal skirmishers to surrender, is of opinion that the firing from the right (the first in point of time) was at a small detached party of mounted men, or cavalry, belonging to the enemy, which came in front of our line on the south side of the road, where it was thrown forward, making an obtuse angle with the other part of it, and that the fire was not at General Jackson's party, though it reached the latter. That firing, however it occurred, was undoubtedly the cause of the other, for when General Jackson's party came crashing through the brushwood in the dark towards the infantry in line of battle expecting soon to encounter the enemy, a fire upon it was inevitable. In the current accounts of the affair it is generally represented that a number of officers were shot at the same time the General was shot, in such a manner as to produce the impression that they were with him ; but the fact is, that the only officer with General Jackson at the time was Captain Wilbourn, the rest of the party being composed of couriers and signal-men. The firing, however, as usual in case of false alarms, passed along the line, and some officers with the party of General Hill in the road were shot; Captain Boswell and

*This opinion is not expressed for the purpose of criticising the proposed movement by General Jackson. Stimulated by the achievement of victory and inspired by the hope of making it decisive, he at the moment perhaps, overlooked the fact that all of his soldiers did not preserve that equipoise of mind necessary to preveni mistakes and accidents under such circumstances The disaster whicb befell the army in his own misfortune is a confirmation of the opinion above expressed.


[ocr errors]

Lieutenant Morrison were with this party, or were going forward to join General Jackson.* General Hill and some others were subsequently struck by the enemy's fire. The spirit given to General Jackson by General Hill was not whiskey, but was brandy furnished by Captain Adams from a flask given him by a Federal officer captured in the engagement. This mistake was a very natural one under the circumstances. When Captain Adams advanced to the front and forced the two Federal soldiers to surrender he was not on horseback, but was on foot, having just before escaped the fire by which some of General Hill's party were shot, by spurring his horse to the rear through the line on the road; he had then dismounted and advanced to the front on foot. These facts are given on his information, as he resides in the same town with the undersigned, and is known to be thoroughly reliable.

A comparison of Captain Wilbourn's narrative with that of General Revere will show that it was utierly impossible for the party of mounted men of which the latter speaks to be that with General Jackson, and that it was equally impossible for the group of several persons around the wounded man, which he claims to have seen, to be Captain Wilbourn and his companion Wynn. General Revere says that the cavalcade that rode up near to him when he was on his picket line near the plank-road, after being rejoined by the horseman who detached himself from the party“ to pierce the gloom,” returned at a gallop, and “the clatter of hoofs soon ceased to be audible.” When it is considered that, besides this clatter of hoofs, “ the silence of the night was unbroken save by the melancholy cries of the whippowill,” which latter were still heard when the clatter of horses' hoofs had ceased to be audible, before the firing occurred, it is very apparent that General Revere was quite a long distance from the Confederate lines. Along a straight and hard road as this one was, the sound of the hoofs of horses in a gallop can be heard a long distance. General Jackson did not get out of hearing of his own men, nor out of sight of General Hill's party, and was riding slowly to the . front when first fired on. Captain Wilbourn is certain that he was not more than fifty or sixty yards in front of General Hill,t while Captain Adams thinks he was not more than twenty or thirty yards in front, and the latter walked the whole distance. The difference in their estimates is not unnatural, as it was in the night, and they occupied different stand-points. The question who composed the cavalcade that General Revere claims to have seen, is then involved in a still greater mystery than that which hangs over the man on horseback seen by Wilbourn and Wynn. As to the group of persons alleged to have been seen around a wounded man lying on the ground, it is to be presumed that General Revere did not mistake two men for several, and that the sight of two men dismounted and engaged in administering to another badly wounded would not have caused visions of the dreaded Libby to flit before the imagination of one who was so well mounted, equipped and armed, especially when those two

* It is possible Captain Boswell was struck by the first volley, as he had been with General Hill and was riding to the front to overtake General Jackson.

† As stated in a letter subsequent to the one herewith given.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »