Het miatanut5, thank you for the reply. Thought I post an update, and quick solution.
I did indeed install the shift shaft backwards, however after staring at it for a while (like we all do!!) I figured I would try something and I took off the retaining screw on the shaft, and low and behold it allowed the shift arm to move on the shaft it self, allowing me to temporarily get the jeep on the road. I dont intend on leaving like this, but for the time beign or at least on till next weekend it seems to work fine, allowing me to go thru all the gears. Here hoping that the shaft doesnt somehow find its way out, and drop into the case.
also hapily reporting that after my marathon run on the transmission, it no longer leaks!