Stonewall Jackson


Who: Thomas Jonathan Jackson

What: Confederate General in the American Civil War

Where: Born Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia)

Why: Swiftly became an icon of the South and a key element in the Lost Cause movement.

When: Born January 21 1824, died May 10 1863.

“It cannot well be denied that Jackson possessed every single attribute which makes for success in war.” – George Francis Robert Henderson

Thomas Jackson, in a war that encompassed over three million soldiers and such elevated military characters as Robert E Lee, Ulysses S Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, Nathan Bedford Forrest and many more, still ranks among the greats. After a difficult childhood, in which he largely taught himself to read and write, he was accepted to the US Military Academy at West Point in 1842. Starting off at the bottom of his class due to his limited education, he doggedly worked his way up, graduating 17th out of 59, with his peers saying he would have graduated first had he had another year. He served in the Mexican-American War, and served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. At the First Battle of Bull Run, as the Confederate lines began to crumble, Jackson’s disciplined brigade stood firm, prompting Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee to proclaim ‘Look at Jackson standing there like a damned stone wall!’, leading to his deserved sobriquet. He served with distinction in the Valley Campaign, Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas, the Battle of Fredericksburg and finally the Battle of Chancellorsville, where he was fatally wounded by Confederate pickets on May 2, hit by three bullets, two in the left arm and one in the right hand. His arm was amputated and he looked to improve some, but died eight days later of pneumonia. Fanatically religious, he expressed his happiness in dying on a Sunday. Robert E Lee, in learning of his death, cried that he had ‘lost his right arm’. He was sorely missed two months later at Gettysburg. Jackson’s legacy has imprinted itself in American history; he is often cited as one of the most gifted tactical commanders the US has ever produced, especially his envelopment of the Union right flank at Chancellorsville. The Lost Cause of the Confederacy movement holds Jackson in high esteem, claiming his premature death undermined the Southern war effort and sped the decline of the Confederacy.

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