It was a cold, moonlit December evening. The silence was broken only by the creaking of the stagecoach and the heavy breathing of its team as the horses pulled their load through the quiet streets of Winchester. It was almost midnight- late for a traveler- but this carriage bore a special passenger. She had braved the winter weather from Strasburg to Winchester for the sole purpose of joining her husband- General Stonewall Jackson.
She had come in response to his request. Weeks earlier he had written her from Winchester, describing his comfortable winter headquarters and how thrilled he would be for her to join him. His letters were filled with the endearing affection that had first attracted her to him. It was a part of his personality that few others ever sa. When the general had asked her to join him at his Winter quarters, she had not waited for him to dispatch as escort. Instead, she had secured the services of a kind clergyman to escort her to Winchester where she planned to surprise her husband.
The stage pulled to a stop in frint of the Taylor Hotel. No one was present to greet the vehicle but a handful of soldiers. General Jackson, she knew, was away on an expedition. She dismounted from the coach and began to climb the steps, intending to follow through with her plan to surprise her husband. Then she glanced backwards at a group of soldiers. An officer "muffled in a military overcoat" she would remember later, "was following us in rapid pursuit." The man, she realized, had a familiar-looking "cap drawn down over his eyes." It was Jackson. "By the time we were upon the top step" she would recall, " a pair of strong arms caught me in the rear, the captive's head was thrown back, and she was kissed again and again by her husband." Mrs. Jackson was reunited with her husband- and it was a joyous reunion. But her pland had failed. Typically, it was Stonewall who had launched a successful surprise.