The tension radiating out of Romney has come to a head. The petition signed by the officers of the Army of the Northwest, and endorsed by General Loring, has made its way to the desk of Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin and President Jefferson Davis. Impatient for results, Colonel Taliaferro has obtained leave and has journeyed to Richmond with the intention of persuading the government to recall the Army of the Northwest to Winchester. Davis, alarmed at the possibility of Loring’s command being surrounded, directs Benjamin to order the troops out. Benjamin sends a short, terse order to Jackson:
“Our news indicates that a movement is being made to cut off General Loring's command. Order him back to Winchester immediately.”
Jackson is astounded to receive this order, but he complies, ordering the Army of the Northwest to return to Winchester. Outraged that all the gains made by his campaign have been negated, Jackson sends a carefully worded letter to Benjamin:
HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,
Winchester, Va., January 31, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: Your order requiring me to direct General Loring to return with his command to Winchester immediately has been received and promptly complied with.
With such interference in my command I cannot expect to be of much service in the field, and accordingly respectfully request to be ordered to report for duty to the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, as has been done in the case of other professors. Should this application not be granted, I respect fully request that the President will accept my resignation from the Army.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,
Major-General, P. A. C. S.
Jackson's superior officer, General Joseph E. Johnston, is taken aback by Jackson's request:
Centreville, February 7, 1862,
Respectfully forwarded, with great regret. I don't know how the loss of this officer can be supplied. General officers are much wanted in this department.
J. E. JOHNSTON,
The Confederacy is in danger of losing one of its heroes.