Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Stonewall Jackson Encounters the Texas Brigade

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 19, 2012

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.


7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Rob Baker said, on October 19, 2012 at 7:13 am

    That’s funny. I’ve always heard that Gen. Jackson had a bizarre sense of humor that often laughed at jokes in public……that he had heard days before.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 19, 2012 at 10:18 am

      “. . . often laughed at jokes in public……that he had heard days before.”

      In all fairness, I occasionally do that, too.

      • Rob Baker said, on October 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

        But did you also routine pump your arm to get the blood flowing and avoid pepper because it makes your leg hurt?

        • Andy Hall said, on October 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

          Yes. I also habitually suck on lemons and, when called upon to guest-lecture in a course, stand at the front of the classroom and read out loud verbatim from the textbook for an hour straight. Why do you ask?

          • Rob Baker said, on October 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

            I’m just wondering if you also run a Sunday school class for the children of slaves….

  2. Joe Owen said, on November 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Dear Sir,
    I am currently editing a book titled “Blood and Glory, The Texans at Gettysburg”. I am inquiring about usage of some photos you have on this website and if I can use some of the photos, with your permisison, or if you don’t have the copyright/permission, if you know who does: I need the photos of Colonel Robert M. Powell (uniform photo) of the 5th Texas Infantry, and a photo of Val C. Giles of the 4th Texas infantry. Please let me know, and thank you!

    Joe Owen

    • Andy Hall said, on November 9, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Joe, the portrait of Val Giles appears on p. 48 of the Time/Life volume, Soldier Life. It’s credited to “Confederate Calendar Works, courtesy Larry Jones.” I’m not sure that helps a lot.I don’t know about and image of Powell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: