|Captain Evan P. Howell|
OLD STONEWALL AND THE BOYS
How Capt. Howell and a Committee Advised Him
LESSON TO YOUNG SOLDIERS
Waited on the General With Solemn Instructions—Told Him What He Should Do—How They Were Received and Sent Away.
A late issue of the Atlanta Constitution, of which Capt Evan Howell was editor, has the following good item of an experience with Stonewall Jackson:
Hon. Ben E. Russell, of Bainbridge, writes the Constitution retelling the following good story which Captain Howell used to tell at his own expense of the time he and a committee of soldiers “waited upon Stonewall Jackson to advise him what to do.” Mr. Russell writes,
“The following is the substance of a war story that the late Captain Evan P. Howell loved to tell. The writer was a member of the First Georgia Regiment, at Romney at the time, and was cognizant of the facts here related.
“Generals Loring and Stonewall Jackson, with the Confederate army, after a dreadful march unparalleled in the history of our war, arrived at Romney, Va., the enemy fleeing upong their approach. We pitched camp near the town, where we remained over two weeks, during which time we never saw the sun, owing to the awful weather of rain, snow and sleet alternately, and frequently all at the same time. The roads were knee-deep in muddy slush and ice making picket duty an almost unbearable hardship. The men got the blues and became discontented and began to inquire of each other, “What are we here for, anyhow?” Both officers and men were on the verge of mutiny.
“To add fuel to flame it was understood among the troops that General Loring and old Stonewall were in total disagreement over the situation. Then some wiseacres of the regiment proposed a mass meeting of the men and officers of the brigade to protest against the continuation of the campaign by resolutions and the sending of a committee to General Jackson with them. The mass meeting was held, the resolutions drawn and the committee appointed. Of those on the committee were Evan P. Howell of the Washington Rifles, and Samuel A. Crump, captain of the Walker Light Infantry, of Augusta.
“Armed with the resolutions the committee started out to find Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters. On the way Captain Crump, who had been through the Mexican war, said to Captain Howell, ‘Evan, do you know that this thing means death to this whole blamed committee, for it’s nothing less than mutiny!’
“ ‘Oh, well,’ says Captain Howell, ‘but we’ve got to go and see the general all the same.’ "
“General Jackson’s headquarters were found, occupying the second story of an old log house. The doughty committee climbed the stairway and entered the upper chamber with no little trepidation, Evan Howell in front. The resolutions in his trembling hands. Old Stonewall was sitting with his back to a very poor open fire with a table in front of him, on which was pread a military map of northern Virginia, surrounded by and dimly lighted with several tallow candles. The great commander looked up from his work and glanced at the committee as it filed before him. In reply to his question: ‘What can I do for you, gentlemen?’ Captain Howell shook out the famous resolution, which recited the grievances of the soldiers, and recommended the speedy evacuation of Romney, and a return to Winchester as the only way out of a bad scrape, reading them in a somewhat unsteady voice.
“During this scene General Jackson’s face never changed from its unusual mild expression. When the reading of the resolutions was over you could have ‘heard a pin drop.’
“The general assumed an attitude of deep thought for a moment—a moment when each committeeman’s knees smote each other—and then said in a rather weary voice, ‘You can return to your commands, gentlemen, and should I need your advice I will send for you.’
“ ‘Tis needless to add that our committee evaporated from those headquarters in a hurry. Captain Howell said, ‘We just moved off, the most relieved set of men you ever saw.’
“Probably these resolutions, coupled with the disagreements with General Loring, etc., caused the immortal Stonewall Jackson to tender his resignation about this time to President Davis. Mr. Davis refused to accept it, but immediately promoted him to the rank of major general, and thus saved to the southern cause the services of the greatest military genius that has astonished the world since Napoleon the Great.”