My Dearest Freddy,
On Monday, the 4th of November, 1861, Major General T.J. Jackson assumed command the the Shenandoah Valley district. As those familiar with Jackson will know, it was within this district that Stonewall would execute some of his most famous exploits.
The following is what he wrote to his wife, Anna, on that occasion:
"I have received order to proceed to Winchester. My trust is in God for the defense of that country. I shall have great labor to perform, but through the blessing of an ever-kind heavenly Father, I trust that He will enable me and other instrumentalities to accomplish it. I trust that you feel more gratitude to God than pride, or elation at my promotion. Continue to pray for me, that I may live to glorify God more and more by serving Him and our country."
General Jackson, as commander of the Shenandoah Valley, was under the supervision of General Johnson, though to a great degree, our most excellent Stonewall had independence from Gen. Johnson.
The assumption of this command necessitated his departure from his brave First Brigade, known to us as the Stonewall Brigade. As seen by the general's words of farewell to this group of fine men, they were beloved to him. The conclusion of his farewell address is quite stirring:
"In the army of the Shenandoah you were the First Brigade; in the army of the Potomac you were the First Brigade; in the Second Corps of the army you are the First Brigade; you are the First Brigade in the affection of your general; and I hope, by your future deeds and bearing, you will be handed down to posterity as the First Brigade in this our second War of Independence."
As he wished, Fred, the First Brigade is being passed down to posterity as a bold, noble brigade. Bear in mind the lessons they learned from their great general, of piety and humility, of manliness and faith in an Almighty Father--such faith as feels no fear!
Think on it, my dearest lad--our merciful Father is Sovereign over all.
Your loving grandfather,
Mr. Hamilton sealed his letter with a look of thoughtfulness...
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