Friendship Of Lee And Jackson
( Originally Published 1902 )
MILITARY commanders in all times and countries, have usually entertained feelings of envy and jealousy toward their rivals. An exception to this rule is seen in the singular harmony between Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson. For twenty-five years they had been warm friends, and their association at the head of the Confederate campaigns, instead of breeding feelings of jealousy, only fastened their hearts together by stronger, sweeter ties. Each had such admirable personal qualities, and such a simple, sincere appreciation of manly qualities in others, that respect and affection increased every day, until their hearts seemed to be one heart, and their lives in unison. Red tape put one over the other, but the Confederate people, and the people of the North, considered them the double head of the Southern army. In about all the military campaigns Lee consulted with Jackson as an equal rather than a subordinate, and insisted on giving Jackson public credit for about every victory their army won. In the heat of the fight at Fredericksburg, Lee said to one of Jackson's staff-officers, who came to him for orders : " Say to General Jackson, that he knows just as well what to do with the enemy as I do." Jackson had the most exalted opinion of Lee's military genius, and insisted that is was Lee's plans instead of his own execution which secured whatever victories their army won. He said : " General Lee is the only man whom I would follow blindfold." When Jackson was wounded, Lee sent him the following word : " Give him my affectionate regards, and tell him to make haste and get well, and come back to me as soon as he can. He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right." Shortly after, he sent his wounded lieutenant the following letter: "I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you on the victory which is due your skill and energy." The wound, which at first no one thought would prove fatal, grew very serious and the gravest apprehension was felt about his condition. On being informed that Jackson was likely to die. Lee said : " Surely General Jackson must recover ! God will not take him from us, now that we need him so much. Surely he will be spared to us in answer to many prayers which are offered for him !" Struggling with deepest emotion, after silence for a few moments, he continued : " When you return, I trust you will find him better. When a suitable occasion offers, give him my love, and tell him that I wrestled in prayer for him last night, as I never prayed, I believe for myself." Jackson's death almost broke Lee's heart, and neither he nor the Southern army ever seemed quite the same after Stonewall Jackson's removal. On the death of his trusted companion General Lee issued the following general order to the troops :
" With deep grief, the Commanding General announces to the army the death of Lieutenant-General T. J. Jackson, who expired on the loth inst., at a quarter-past three P.M. The daring, skill, and energy of this great and good soldier, by the decree of an All-wise Providence are now lost to us. But while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit still lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God, as our hope and strength. Let his name be a watchword to his corps, who have followed him to victory on so many fields. Let his officers and soldiers emulate his noble example. R. E. Lee, General.
Lee and Stonewall Jackson were not only great generals, but were great men personally; great in the keenness of their intellectual perceptions; in the warmth of their affections and in the firmness of their faith in God. If they had been smaller men they would have been suspicious, envious, jealous, vengeful, each a detriment, instead of a help to the other. It was because they were really great men that they were so simple and childlike in their love, and so magnanimous in their conduct towards each other. Love is not little or weak, it is the grandest thing in the world.