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United States Ford, which would undoubtedly have resulted in the total discomfiture of our army. The column consisted of 15,000 men and three batteries of artillery.
Jackson was sitting on his horse at the head of the column, surrounded by his staff. He had a peculiarly sad and gloomy expression of countenance, as though he already had a premonition of his fate. It was but fifteen minutes later that he was mortally wounded.
As they came into his presence, the guard announced "a Yankee officer.” Captain Wilkins asked if it was Major-General Thomas J. Jackson? On being answered in the affirmative, he raised his hat. General Jackson said, “A regular army officer, I suppose; your officers do not often salute ours." Captain Wilkins replied, “No, I am not; I salute you out of respect to you as a gallant officer.” He then asked his name and rank. On being informed, he further inquired what corps and commanders were opposed in front. Captain Wilkins replied that as an officer he could not return a truthful answer to such questions. Jackson then turned to the guard and ordered them to search him.
He then had in the breast pocket of his coat Hooker's confidential orders to corps commanders, giving a plan, in part, of the campaign, the countersigns of the field for a week in advance, and the field returns of the Twelfth Corps on the preceding day. These were all exceedingly important papers.
Fortunately, before the guard could carry the orders into execution, a terrific raking fire was opened on Jackson's column by twenty pieces of artillery, commanded by Captain Best, from an eminence on the plank road. The first eight or ten shots flew over the
heads of the column. The men and gunners dismounted, leaving their horses and guns. Our artillery soon got the range with more precision, and the shell and round shot ricocheted and plowed through this dense mass of the enemy with terrific effect. Shells were continually bursting, and the screams and groans of the wounded and dying could be heard on every side.
As an instance of the terrible effect of this fire, one of the guard was struck by a solid shot just below the hips, sweeping off both his legs. A battery came dashing up, but when they got into the vortex of the fire, the gunners fled, deserting their guns, and could not be made to man them. An officer, splendidly mounted and equipped, attempted in a most gallant manner to rally them. A ball struck him on the neck, completely severing his head from his body, and leaving his spinal column standing. His body rolled to the ground and and his horse galloped to the rear.
One of the shells struck a caisson full of artillery ammunition, which exploding, ascended in a crator of various colored flame, and showered down on the heads of the men below a mass of fragments of shot and shell. The loss inflicted by this fire must have been terrible; placing considerably over one thousaud men hors de combat, and effectually breaking up the contemplated attack of the column.
An officer of Jackson's staff subsequently stated that it was about fifteen minutes after this that General Jackson with staff advanced to the front, to reconnoiter our position; having accomplished which, he returned by a different path toward his own men, who mistaking his approach for that of a party of our cavalry, fired upon him, killing and wounding four of his staff, and wounding -Jackson, once in the right arm, and twice in the left arm and hand.
While Captain Wilkins was being taken to the rear, he devoted his attention to disposing of the important papers which he had on his person. He dared not take them from his pocket to attempt to tear them up, but constantly kept his hand in his pocket, and worked the papers into a ball, and as they were passing along, got them into his bosom, and finally into the pit under his arm, where he carried them all that night.
The next morning the guard halted to get their breakfast, and a soldier was trying to kindle a fire to cook some coffee which they had taken from our men. The wood was damp and the fire refused to burn. The soldier swore at it until his patience gave out, when Captain Wilkins asked him if he would not like some kindlings, and handed him the important papers. The soldier took them, and not dreaming of their importance, used them to kindle his fire.
STORY OF GENERAL MCCLELLAN.
THE Washington Correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is responsible for the following story of General McClellan, while in command of the army of the Potomac: “General McClellan was in the habit of riding around occasionally, in citizen's dress, accompanied by à few of his staff. One day he was walking through one of the encampments, and passing the rear of the
tents, he saw a bucket of coffee standing near a fire. He asked what it was, and one of the soldiers said 'coffee.' 'It looks more like slops,' he replied. 'Oh,' said the soldier, “it is not fit to drink, but we have to put up with it, and our other food is not a bit better.' "Well, whose fault is it?' he asked. “Oh, our Quartermaster is drunk most of the time, and when he is not, he is studying how to cheat.'
“McClellan passed on, and seeing more evidence of the dirty and slovenly manner in which the Quartermaster conducted his operations in his tent, he accosted him with the remark that the men were complaining of bad treatment from him. The Quartermaster flew into a passion, and swore it was none of his business; and he had better not come sneaking around trying to make mischief. McClellan answered him, telling him he had better be cautions how he talked. Quartermaster replied, Who are you, that you assume so much apparent authority ?' 'I am George B. McClellan, and you can pack up your traps and leave.' The Quartermaster was struck dumb, and McClellan turned and left him.
“That evening the Quartermaster left to the tune of the 'Rogue's March,' played by some of the boys who had got wind of it. He was superseded by a Quartermaster who did not 'get drunk and cheat.' The story was soon circulated around some of the camps, and the officers kept on the lookout for the General, and of course did not have much lying around loose: and the men were ready to risk their lives at the cannon's mouth for the man who did care how they were provided for.”
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, the son of a physician of Philadelphia, was born in that city, December 30, 1826. He entered West Point Academy at the age of sixteen, and graduated at twenty, as brevet Second Lieutenant of Engineers. He served in the Mexican war, with a company of sappers and miners, as Second Lieutenant, was breveted First Lieutenant at Contreras, and Captain after the capture of the City of Mexico.
After the war he remained on duty with the sappers and miners, at West Point, until June, 1851. He next served as Engineer at the construction of Fort Delaware.
In the spring of 1852 he was assigned to duty under Major R. B. Marcy, in the Expedition for the Exploration of Red River. Thence he was ordered direct to Texas, as Senior Engineer on the staff of General Persifer F. Smith, and was engaged on the coast of Texas, on surveys of Rivers and Harbors.
In 1853 he was ordered to the Pacific coast, in command of the Western Division of the Survey of the North Pacific Railroad route. He returned to the East in 1854, on duty connected with the Pacific survey.
The following year he received a commission in the 1st Regiment of Cavalry, and was sent to Europe as a member of the Military Commission, to the seat of war, in the Crimea, and in Northern Russia.
He resigned in January, 1857, to take the position of Vice-President and Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, which he held about three years, and relinquished for the presidency of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad Company, of which he also acted as General Superintendent; and was acting in that capacity when the rebellion broke out.