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"Oh, for the presence and inspiration of Old Jack": A Lost Cause Plea for Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg Peter S. Carmichael The exoneration of Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg is central to the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War. A common argument is that Richard S. Ewell failed to emulate the aggressive tactics of Stonewall Jackson during the first day's fighting, thereby squandering the Confederacy's finest opportunity to secure victory at Gettysburg. Without Jackson, Lee was forced to rely on the inexperienced Ewell and Ambrose Powell Hill, the recalcitrant James Longstreet, and the individualistic James E. B. Stuart—officers who failed to equal Stonewall's brilliance and consequently undermined their superior's strategic and tactical designs. By blaming the army's subordinate command for Confederate failure, Lost Cause advocates such as Jubal A. Early, James Power Smith, and William N. Pendleton not only preserved Lee's untarnished battlefield record but also turned Jackson's death into a turning point of Confederate fortunes. In the postwar years Southerners found comfort in contemplating the possible outcome of Gettysburg if only Stonewall had been on the field.' 1 On the place of Robert E. Lee in the Lost Cause literature, see Thomas L. Connelly, The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His ¡mage in American Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,¦977): A'an F- Nolan, Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1991), esp. chaps. 1 and 8; Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts ofthe Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence ofthe New South (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987), esp. chaps. 3-7. On the Confederate debates surrounding Gettysburg and the Lost Cause interpretation of Richard Ewell's actions on July 1, see J. William Jones et al., eds. Southern Historical Society Papers, 52 vols, and 2-vol. index (1 876-1 959; reprint, Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus, 1977-80), esp. vols. 4-6 (hereafter cited as SHSP). Thomas L. Connelly and Barbara L. Bellows, God and General Longstreet: The Lost Cause and the Southern Mind (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1982), 30-3 1 . Civil War History, Vol. XLI, No. 2 © 1995 by The Kent State University Press l62CIVIL WAR HISTORY The image of Jackson watching his victorious troops storm Cemetery Hill still captures the imagination. Unfortunately, most of the recent literature on the Second Corps commander plays on this counterfactual situation, reinforcing the popular notion that Gettysburg marked the turning point of the war and could have been reversed had Jackson been alive. In his 1992 Jackson biography , Bevin Alexander claimed that Gettysburg "would have been different" because Stonewall "never missed the importance of critical terrain features and would have done everything possible to capture one as dominant as Cemetery Hill." The same year Paul D. Casdorph argued in Lee and Jackson: Confederate Chieftains that "Ewell's defeatism at dusk on the first day at Gettysburg remains an imponderable of the entire war." Casdorph insists that Jackson would have secured a victory on the first day's battle. John Bowers also maintained in his 1989 biography that "Jackson would certainly have understood Lee's strategy and somehow have taken Cemetery Hill."2 Much of the speculation concerning Jackson's impact on Gettysburg draws from postwar Confederate sources like Henry Kyd Douglas's / Rode With Stonewall. A former member of Jackson's staff, Douglas criticized Ewell for allowing the Federals to remain on Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill. Lee and A. P. Hill escape censure, while in a famous and frequently quoted passage, Douglas raises the ghost of Jackson. He observes that Ewell's chief of staff, Alexander "Sandie" Pendleton, stated "quietly and with much feeling" after the general refused to advance, "Oh, for the presence and inspiration of Old Jack for just one hour!" With a dramatic touch of the pen, Douglas turned Ewell into a scapegoat for widespread Confederate blundering on July 1 and reinforced Jackson's reputation as the only subordinate who could have successfully executed Lee's orders. He believed "it took the battle of Gettysburg to convince General Lee" of Stonewall's indispensability.3 A number of widely read books...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 161-167
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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