The Game Cock of the Valley

Plato, in the Timaeus, relates the following anecdote as told by Socrates. "Did you ever, hear O Alcibiades," said Socrates, "of the Irishman's Game Cock?" "No, by Zeus," replied Alcibiades. "Then," said Socrates, "I will tell you. There was an Irishman, named Mullins, who lived near Kernstown, and had a great desire to possess a game chicken. He applied, therefore, to his friend Bumgardner, who gave him an egg, which he averred had been laid by a game hen. In due time, the egg was hatched, and, when the bird was fully grown, Mullins sought Bumgardner and exhibited his Game Cock with infinite pride.--"Isn't he a beauty? "exclaimed Mullins. "Only look at his feet. Bedad! all h_ll couldn't trip him up." "But, by the dog," said Socrates, the Game chicken was a Muscovy drake, of the largest size."

"And that reminds me," said Alcibiades, "of Stonewall Jackson." "Who is he?" inquired Socrates. "I will tell you all I know about him," answered the nephew of Pericles.--"When Major Selden, who was the first man to storm the walls of Chepultepec, was wounded, he was caught in the arms of a young Lieutenant, who handed him down and planted his foot upon the ramparts. This foot was eighteen inches 'in the clear' in length, and when once planted, all Mexico could not budge it an inch. The subsequent history of this foot and this Lieutenant sustains the reputation of both. Passing over his gallantry in Mexico, we find him teaching in the Military School at Lexington, and noted for his piety, his quiet ways and his politeness. Upon the breaking out of the war of 1861, he turns up as a Colonel of Volunteers, and as such distinguished himself by holding in check, at Falling Waters, the armed rabble under Patterson, 12,000 strong, which was magnified into a well disciplined army of 30,000. Next, he appears on the glorious field of Manassas; his foot immovable as ever, his men the stalwart sons of the Valley; unshaken as their leader--his dauntless spirit holding them like a wall of adamant amid the fluctuating tides of battle, and earning for himself and them the name which has made them immortal. Calm as the unclouded sun that looked upon that field of carnage, he refuses to let even a drop of whiskey be poured upon the stump of his finger which had been shot off. His foot untouched, what did he care about his finger?

"He is next entrusted with the command of the Valley; and, as soon as his force is organized, he appears suddenly before Bath, scatters things right and left, tears up tracks, tears down dams, stampedes ten thousand Hessians at Romney, plays the wild generally, and retires at his leisure to Winchester. It is the dead of winter, the terrible march has fearfully thinned his ranks, and he calls for reinforcements. Again and again he calls, but in vain. Spring approaches, and his little band sullenly and doggedly retires before converging columns of the foe, whose advance the indomitable Ashby contests inch by inch. He retreated nearly to Staunton, where the Yankees attempt to trip him by a pretended route and a report that Maryland has risen. They fly back to Winchester, and he flies after them. Fifty miles are traversed in less than two days by his "foot cavalry," and with 2,300 of them he jobs old Shields so furiously in the rear that he recalls the column that had crossed Snicker's Gap--the very thing that Stonewall wanted him to do. His design accomplished, he retires before, Ashby still disputing every inch. Arrived near Staunton, he slips aside into Swift Run Gap. Banks is afraid to advance, for if he does Jackson will be in his rear. He will wait for Millroy [sic] to come up and capture Staunton from the West. Silly Massachusetts cobbler, he thinks to trip the game cock, does he? He fancies he is holding Jackson in check and that Milroy will have a gay and easy time of it. But Ewell comes up quietly and occupies Jackson's camp at Swift Run Gap; Jackson glides around by Meacham's River, rushes past Staunton, and with the aid of Edward Johnston [sic], clears out Milroy in the twinkling of an eye. By this time Mr. banks' head begins to swim; he falls back to Strasburg and begins to dig dirt with all the energy and velocity that fear can inspire. Jackson's brilliant achievements since the battle of McDowell resemble the ticking of the clock, so rapid and regular are they. I confess," concluded Alcbiades, "that when I call over the names of Front Royal, Middleton, Winchester, Martinsburg, Harper's Ferry, Port Republic, and Rockland Mills--when I think of the immense distance Jackson and his men have marched, and the number and brilliance of the victories they have achieved in so short a time--I confess," said he, "when I think of all this, my own head swims as badly as Milroy's or Bank's, or Fremont's, or Shield's or any other man."

We are much in the fix of Alcibiades. It gives us a vertigo of delight to think of what Jackson has done. We hope he will keep on and give us an apoplexy before he stops. But, we don't want him to stop; and he never will stop if our government will give him the men he wants. If he had had the force that some of our Generals have commanded, he would by this time have captured the North Pole and blocked up Simms' Hole with Icebergs, so that we would have had no more "Northern lights." But Alcibiades makes no mention of Ewell--"Old Ewell" as the boys call him, though he is only about 40 years of age. Of him we have not heard a great deal, but all that we have heard redounds to his credit. A Virginian by birth, a graduate of West Point, he is a brave, modest, fighting man--a worthy ally of old Stonewall. As a proof of his modesty--rather a rare quality among fighting men--, we believe--it is enough to relate that when he was appointed Major- General he hesitated some time about accepting the commission, saying that Jubal Early deserved it more than any other man in the Army of the Potomac. With such leaders as Jackson and Ewell, and the Georgians, North Carolinians, Louisianians and Virginians under his command, with energy rapid movements and fierce fighting, it is no wonder such marvels have been accomplished. Our neighbor of the Examiner likens Jackson to the game cock called "the wheeler." He is a game cock and he does wheel with a vengeance. He "cuts and comes again," and reminds up of that queer and terrible Australian implement which deals death and destruction by the unexpected and unward-off-able process of the circumbendibus. Let Jackson be called the Great Gyrater or the Confederate Boome rang.

Sometime ago, we accused Jackson of being of unsound mind. Since that time he has exhibited not the least symptom of improvement. In fact he gets worse and worse every day. Within the last two weeks he seems to have gone clean daft--crazy quite, crazy as a bedbug--crazy as two bedbugs. With his foot cavalry at his heels, with their tails curled, he has been raving, ramping, roaring, rearing, snorting and cavorting up and down the Valley, chawing up Yankees by the thousands as if they were so many grains of parched pop-corn. The Lord send he may never recover his senses till [sic] his foot cavalry are stabled in the big barns of the Susquehanna Valley. Crazy or not, we but echo the voice of the whole Confederacy when we say "God bless Old Stonewall and Old Ewell, and Old Ned Johnson. God bless 'em a thousand times over and all the gallant fellows they so skilfully [sic] command. God bless them all!"

"[From the Richmond Whig.] The Game Cock of the Valley.", Macon, Georgia Macon Daily Telegraph, 16 June 1862.


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