JACKSON, Thomas J. "Stonewall" (1824-1863), Lt. General, C.S.A. Autograph letter signed ("T.J. Jackson Maj. Genl.") to Brig. General Edward Johnson, Swift Run Gap [Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley], "7:30 a.m.," 27 April 1862. 1 page, 4to, on lined paper, neatly inlaid to a larger protective sheet, verso with recipient's endorsement.
JACKSON'S STRATEGIC DIVERSION IN THE VALLEY, SPRING 1862
A fine field letter written at one of the crucial early points in this celebrated campaign, in which Jackson, with a modest force of 17,000 infantry men, successfully tied up much larger Union armies and prevented the dispatch of significant reinforcements to McClellan, who was mobilizing to move on Richmond. Jackson writes to Johnson, was commanding a small detached force at Staunton. Jackson, with some 6,000 men, was outnumbered in the valley at this point by some seven to one, and had fallen back after the Battle of Kernstown (23 March) to a carefully chosen position at Swift Run Gap. Here, on the East bank of the South fork of the Shenandoah, protected by mountains on two sides, he could be attacked from only one direction but was able to fall on the flanks of General Banks Union army should it advance down the Valley. In the present letter, Jackson urgently requests news of enemy movements from Johnson, commanding a modest Army of the Northwest, posted west of Staunton: "General, Please let me know the movements of the enemy near you, as far as practicable. And also how long it would require for you to move back to Brown's Gap [west of Port Republic] from your present position. Respectfully, your obedient servant."
Jackson was in correspondence with Robert E. Lee, in Richmond, who had made him painfully aware of the importance of diverting troop strength from MacClellan on the Peninsula and from McDowell's force at Fredericksburg, which was poised to drive on the Confederate capital. Convinced of the necessity of quick offensive action, three days after this letter--on 30 April--Jackson led the Valley Army in a difficult march west across the mountains to Westview, where he linked with Johnson's force of 3,000 men. After crossing another range, on 8 May Jackson's "Foot Cavalry" attacked a 6,000-man Union army under Milroy and Schenk at McDowell, which marked Jackson's first offensive of the Valley Campaign. It was followed by victories at Front Royal (23 May), Winchester (25 May), Cross Keys (8 June), by Jackson's fighting withdrawal and masterful avoidance of a Union pincer movement.