Oil painting of Robert E. Lee on his horse, Traveller, on the evening of his great victory at Chancellorsville, by Louis Mathieu Didier Guillaume (c. 1862-65).
By Phillip Marlowe
Major General, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Known for his religious intensity, Stonewall was a brilliant battlefield tactical genius, who was both loved and hated by his men.
ASTRIDE HIS HORSE, “Little Sorrel,” the tough and sometimes eccentric general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, watched with fiery blue-green eyes as his men silently trudged down the narrow plank road towards Catharine Furnace, a crude iron smelter set deep within the twisted pine scrub of an area in Virginia called “the Wilderness.” Mounted next to him on his white horse “Traveller,” sat General Robert E. Lee, along with the rest of Stonewall’s corp commanders. The tail end of a cavalry unit under the famed cavalier, J. E. B. Stuart, rode on ahead.
Realizing many of his division commanders nearby were Virginia Military Institute graduates (where Jackson taught before the war), the general leaned back in his saddle and said matter-of-factly to them all: “Gentlemen, the Institute will be heard from today.”
Stonewall was leading his entire corp on a risky 14 mile march, planned with Lee over a small campfire in the dark woods only hours before. Lee had already divided his small army in two, one to face the Union army coming in force across Kelly’s ford on the Rappahannock river and another substantial part to fend off attack on his rear at Fredericksburg. Now he was to divide his army once again, this time in ballsy plan to out-flank the pompous Union General, “Fighting Joe” Hooker, now headquartered at Chancellorsville — little more than a few ramshackle buildings and a rough little inn on the road west of Fredericksburg.