www.Circa1865.org The Great American Political Divide
Baptized with Blood at Manassas
“[Gen. Thomas J.] Jackson believed in the Southern cause, as if it had been a revelation from God . . . Jackson believed that the war of invasion was a heartless crusade against mankind and womankind, and the civilization of the South, and the higher law proclamation was the aftermath of the pernicious broadcasting of seed sown by Horace Greeley, Gerritt Smith and Joshua R. Giddings.
Jackson believed that the “Grand Army” in holiday attire, with flaunting banners and careering squadrons, were an aggregation of iconoclasts, fierce destroyers of images, creeds, institutions, traditions homes, country. So believed he when the “Anaconda” with panting sides drew back to strike.
Man to man, bayonet to bayonet, cannon to cannon, bosom to bosom, here was challenged the asserted right of coercion, of frenzy against frenzy, patriotism, anger, vanity, hope, despair; each facing and meeting the other like dark clashing whirlwinds.
Eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, and Jackson with folded arms, occupies the plateau near the “Henry House.” Just beyond is a dark confused death wrestle. Forty thousand athletes against eighty thousand athletes; two hundred odd iron throats perpetually vomiting an emetic of death.
There is . . . the order given, and the “old Stonewall Brigade” is hurled like an immense projectile against ranks of human flesh. There is a halt, a recoil; cannon spit out their fire, their hail, their death upon bosoms bared to the shock. “There stands Jackson like a Stonewall.” Under that name he was baptized with blood at Manassas.
Everywhere that faded coat and tarnished stars were the oriflame of battle and the old brigade followed them as if they had been the white plume of Navarre.
This incomparable leader never failed in a single battle from the day when with 2800 men at Manassas, where he cut their communications and decoyed their columns into the iron jaws of Longstreet’s reserves. Such achievements were not accidental. No maneuver could mislead the clear judgment that presided serenely in that soul of fire.
Lifeless eyes and voiceless lips now, had cheered these flags with the same joy that once greeted the eagles of Napoleon. Withered skeleton hands now, had borne them at the head of charging squadrons and battalions, the guidons of victorious armies – the guerdon of a nation’s trust and faith.
If out of the cold, dead white stars could come again the old gleam of light as it lighted up the line of direction over the mountain passes of Virginia and the valley of the Shenandoah, what a halo of glory would encircle Winchester and Gordonsville and Chantilly!
How dramatic the narrative; how truthful the history; how inspiring the reminiscence; how fully and completely vindicated the Old South – the lost cause! But there is no light in the stars, and the broad bands of blue upon the blood-red field are disfiguring scars upon the face of an incident long since closed, and closed forever, full of tragedy and patriotism.”
(The Broken Sword; Or, a Pictorial Page of Reconstruction, D. Worthington, P.D. Gold & Sons, 1901, excerpts pp. 104-107)