Stonewall Jackson Encounters the Texas Brigade
I never thought of
Stephen Lang Stonewall Jackson as a particularly funny guy, but perhaps I misjudged him. Here’s an anecdote of his encounter with soldiers of the Texas Brigade about the time of the Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862:
We were all ignorant then about discipline in the army and thought that we had a right to know as much as the officers. But we soon found out differently. [Division commander] Gen. [William H.C.] Whiting was an old army officer, and a good one, and he said to Gen. Hood, that he had no doubt but what those Texas men would make good soldiers, “but you will have a hard time getting them down to army regulations.” Gen. Jackson was a good hand to execute and keep his own counsel, and about the first thing that he did was to give us to understand that we must know nothing but obey orders and if any citizen on the march should ask you where you are going, tell them that you “don’t know.” The next day he came along and noticed one of our men leave ranks for a cherry tree. Cherries were getting ripe. “Where are you going?” asked the General. “I don’t know, sir.” “What Regiment do you belong to?” “I don’t know sir.” “What do you know?” “I know that Gen. Jackson said that we must not know anything till after the fight was over.” “Is that all you know?” “I know that I want to go to that cherry tree.” “Well, go on.” _____________ The next day, he came along and one of our men said to him: “General, where are we going?” He turned around and looked at him a few minutes and said: “Are you a good hand to keep a secret?” “Yes, sir.” “Well, so am I,” and he rode on.
As told by former Private James M. Polk, Co. I, 4th Texas Infantry.