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Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and probably the most well-known Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. His military career includes the Valley Campaignmarker of 1862 and his service as a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee. Confederate pickets accidentally shot him at the Battle of Chancellorsvillemarker on May 2, 1863, which the general survived, albeit with the loss of an arm to amputation. However, he died of complications of pneumonia eight days later. His death was a severe setback for the Confederacy, affecting not only its military prospects, but also the morale of its army and of the general public.

Military historians consider Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in United States history. His Valley Campaign and his envelopment of the Union Army right wing at Chancellorsville are studied worldwide even today as examples of innovative and bold leadership. He excelled as well in other battles: the First Battle of Bull Runmarker (where he received his famous nickname "Stonewall"), the Second Battle of Bull Runmarker, Antietammarker, and Fredericksburgmarker. Jackson was not universally successful as a commander, however, as displayed by his weak and confused efforts during the Seven Days Battles around Richmondmarker in 1862.

Early life

Paternal ancestry

Thomas Jonathan Jackson was the great-grandson of John Jackson (1715 or 1719 – 1801) and Elizabeth Cummins (also known as Elizabeth Comings and Elizabeth Needles) (1723 – 1828). John Jackson was born a Protestant in Colerainemarker, County Londonderry, in Northern Irelandmarker. While living in Londonmarker, he was convicted of the capital crime of larceny for stealing £170; the judge at the Old Baileymarker sentenced him to a seven-year indenture in America. Elizabeth, a strong, blonde woman over tall, born in London, was also convicted of larceny in an unrelated case for stealing 19 pieces of silver, jewelry, and fine lace, and received a similar sentence. They both were transported on the prison ship Litchfield, which departed London in May 1749 with 150 convicts. John and Elizabeth met on board and were in love by the time the ship arrived at Annapolis, Marylandmarker. Although they were sent to different locations in Maryland for their indentures, the couple married in July 1755.

The family migrated west across the Blue Ridge Mountains to settle near Moorefield, Virginiamarker, (now West Virginiamarker) in 1758. In 1770, they moved further west to the Tygart Valley. They began to acquire large parcels of virgin farmland near the present-day town of Buckhannonmarker, including 3,000 acres (12 km²) in Elizabeth's name. John and his two teenage sons were early recruits for the American Revolutionary War, fighting in the Battle of Kings Mountainmarker on October 7, 1780; John finished the war as captain and served as a lieutenant of the Virginia Militia after 1787. While the men were in the Army, Elizabeth converted their home to a haven, "Jackson's Fort," for refugees from Indian attacks.

John and Elizabeth had eight children. Their second son was Edward Jackson (March 1, 1759 – December 25, 1828), and Edward's third son was Jonathan Jackson, Thomas's father.

Early childhood

Thomas Jackson was the third child of Julia Beckwith Jackson (1798 – 1831) and Jonathan Jackson (1790 – 1826), an attorney. Both of Jackson's parents were natives of Virginia. The family already had two young children and were living in Clarksburgmarker, in what is now West Virginia, when Thomas was born. He was named for his maternal grandfather.

Thomas's sister Elizabeth (age six) died of typhoid fever on March 6, 1826, with two-year-old Thomas at her bedside. His father died of the same disease March 26. Jackson's mother gave birth to Thomas's sister Laura Ann the day after Jackson's father died. Julia Jackson thus was widowed at 28 and was left with much debt and three young children (including the newborn). She sold the family's possessions to pay the debts. She declined family charity and moved into a small rented one-room house. Julia took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her three young children for about four years.

In 1830, Julia Neale Jackson remarried. Her new husband, Blake Woodson, an attorney, did not like his stepchildren. There were continuing financial problems. The following year, after giving birth to Thomas's half-brother, Julia died of complications, leaving her three older children orphaned. Julia was buried in an unmarked grave in a homemade coffin in Westlake Cemetery along the James River and Kanawha Turnpike in Fayette Countymarker within the corporate limits of present-day Ansted, West Virginiamarker.

Jackson's Mill, owned by Cummins Jackson.

Working and teaching at Jackson's Mill

As their mother's health continued to fail, Jackson and his sister Laura Ann were sent to live with their uncle, Cummins Jackson, who owned a grist mill in Jackson's Millmarker (near present-day Westonmarker in Lewis Countymarker in central West Virginiamarker). Their older brother, Warren, went to live with other relatives on his mother's side of the family, but he later died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of 20. Thomas and Laura Ann returned from Jackson's Mill in November 1831 to be at their dying mother's bedside. They spent four years together at the Mill before being separated—Laura Ann was sent to live with her mother's family, Thomas to live with his Aunt Polly (his father's sister) and her husband, Isaac Brake, on a farm 4 miles from Clarksburg. Thomas was treated by Brake as an outsider and, having suffered verbal abuse for over a year, ran away from the family. When his cousin in Clarksburg beseeched him to return to Aunt Polly's, he replied, "Maybe I ought to, ma'am, but I am not going to." He walked 18 miles through mountain wilderness to Jackson's Mill, where he was welcomed by his uncles and he remained there for the following seven years.

Cummins Jackson was strict with Thomas, who looked up to Cummins as a schoolteacher. Jackson helped around the farm, tending sheep with the assistance of a sheepdog, driving teams of oxen and helping harvest wheat and corn. Formal education was not easily obtained, but he attended school when and where he could. Much of Jackson's education was self-taught. He once made a deal with one of his uncle's slave to provide him with pine knots in exchange for reading lessons; Thomas would stay up at night reading borrowed books by the light of those burning pine knots. Virginia law forbade teaching a slave, free black or mulatto to read or write, as enacted following Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion in Southampton Countymarker in 1831. Nevertheless, Jackson secretly taught the slave to write, as he had promised. Once literate, the young slave fled to Canada via the underground railroad. In his later years at Jackson's Mill, Thomas was a schoolteacher.

Early Military Career

West Point

In 1842, Jackson was accepted to the United States Military Academymarker at West Pointmarker, New Yorkmarker. Because of his inadequate schooling, he had difficulty with the entrance examinations and began his studies at the bottom of his class. As a student, he had to work harder than most cadets to absorb lessons. However, displaying a dogged determination that was to characterize his life, he became one of the hardest working cadets in the academy, and moved steadily up the academic rankings. Jackson graduated 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846. It was said by his peers that if he had stayed there another year, he would have graduated first.

U.S. Army and the Mexican War

Jackson began his United States Army career as a brevet second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment and was sent to fight in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. He served at the Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Contreras, Chapultepecmarker, and Mexico City, eventually earning two brevet promotions, and the regular army rank of first lieutenant. It was in Mexico that Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.

During the assault on Chapultepec Castle, he refused what he felt was a "bad order" to withdraw his troops. Confronted by his superior, he explained his rationale, claiming withdrawal was more hazardous than continuing his overmatched artillery duel. His judgment proved correct, and a relieving brigade was able to exploit the advantage Jackson had broached. In contrast to this display of strength of character, he obeyed what he also felt was a "bad order" when he raked a civilian throng with artillery fire after the Mexican authorities failed to surrender Mexico City at the hour demanded by the U.S. forces. The former episode, and later aggressive action against the retreating Mexican army, earned him field promotion to the brevet rank of major.

Lexington and the Virginia Military Institute

In the spring of 1851, Jackson accepted a newly created teaching position at the Virginia Military Institutemarker (VMI), in Lexington, Virginiamarker. He became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Instructor of Artillery. Jackson's teachings are still used at VMI today because they are military essentials that are timeless, to wit: discipline, mobility, assessing the enemy's strength and intentions while attempting to conceal your own, and the efficiency of artillery combined with an infantry assault.

However, despite the high quality of his work, he was not popular as a teacher. He memorized his lectures and then recited them to the class; any students who came to ask for help were only given the same explanation as before. And if students came to ask again, Jackson viewed this as insubordination and likewise punished them. The students mocked his apparently stern, religious nature and his eccentric traits. In 1856, a group of alumni attempted to have Jackson removed from his position.

Little as he was known to the white inhabitants of Lexington, Jackson was revered by many of the African-Americans in town, both slaves and free blacks. He was instrumental in the organization in 1855 of Sunday school classes for blacks at the Presbyterian Church. His second wife, Mary Anna Jackson, taught with Jackson, as "he preferred that my labors should be given to the colored children, believing that it was more important and useful to put the strong hand of the Gospel under the ignorant African race, to lift them up." The pastor, Dr. William Spottswood White, described the relationship between Jackson and his Sunday afternoon students: "In their religious instruction he succeeded wonderfully. His discipline was systematic and firm, but very kind. ... His servants reverenced and loved him, as they would have done a brother or father. ... He was emphatically the black man's friend." He addressed his students by name and they in turn referred to him affectionately as "Marse Major."

Jackson's family owned six slaves in the late 1850s. Three (Hetty, Cyrus, and George, a mother and two teenage sons) were received as a wedding present. Another, Albert, requested that Jackson purchase him and allow him to work for his freedom; he was employed as a waiter in one of the Lexington hotels and Jackson rented him to VMI. Amy also requested that Jackson purchase her from a public auction and she served the family as a cook and housekeeper. The sixth, Emma, was a four-year-old orphan with a learning disability, accepted by Jackson from an aged widow and presented to his second wife, Mary Anna, as a welcome-home gift. After the American Civil War began, he appears to have hired out or sold his slaves. Mary Anna Jackson, in her 1895 memoir, said, "our servants ... without the firm guidance and restraint of their master, the excitement of the times proved so demoralizing to them that he deemed it best for me to provide them with good homes among the permanent residents." James Robertson wrote about Jackson's view on slavery:

While an instructor at VMI, in 1853, Thomas Jackson married Elinor "Ellie" Junkin, whose father was president of Washington College (later named Washington and Lee Universitymarker) in Lexington. An addition was built onto the president's residence for the Jacksons, and when Robert E. Lee became president of Washington College he lived in the same home, now known as the Lee-Jackson House. Ellie gave birth to a stillborn son on October 22, 1854, experiencing a hemorrhage an hour later that proved fatal.

After a tour of Europe, Jackson married again, in 1857. Mary Anna Morrison was from North Carolina, where her father was the first president of Davidson College. They had a daughter named Mary Graham on April 30, 1858, but the baby died less than a month later. Another daughter was born in 1862, shortly before her father's death. The Jacksons named her Julia Laura, after his mother and sister.

Jackson purchased the only house he ever owned while in Lexington. Built in 1801, the brick town house at 8 East Washington Street was purchased by Jackson in 1859. He lived in it for two years before being called to serve in the Confederacy. Jackson never returned to his home.

In November 1859, at the request of the governor of Virginia, Major William Gilham led a contingent of the VMI Cadet Corps to Charles Townmarker to provide an additional military presence at the hanging of militant abolitionist John Brown on December 2, following his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferrymarker on October 16. Major Jackson was placed in command of the artillery, consisting of two howitzers manned by 21 cadets.

Civil War

In 1861, as the American Civil War broke out, Jackson became a drill master for some of the many new recruits in the Confederate Army. On April 27, 1861, Virginia Governor John Letcher ordered Colonel Jackson to take command at Harpers Ferrymarker, where he would assemble and command the famous "Stonewall Brigade", consisting of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments. All of these units were from the Shenandoah Valleymarker region of Virginia, where Jackson located his headquartersmarker throughout the first two years of the war. Jackson became known for his relentless drilling of his troops; he believed discipline was vital to success on the battlefield. Following the Great Train Raid of 1861 on May 24, he was promoted to brigadier general on June 17.

First Bull Run

Jackson rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Runmarker (First Manassas) on July 21, 1861. As the Confederate lines began to crumble under heavy Union assault, Jackson's brigade provided crucial reinforcements on Henry House Hill, demonstrating the discipline he instilled in his men. Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Follow me!" There is some controversy over Bee's statement and intent, which could not be clarified because he was killed almost immediately after speaking and none of his subordinate officers wrote reports of the battle. Major Burnett Rhett, chief of staff to General Joseph E. Johnston, claimed that Bee was angry at Jackson's failure to come immediately to the relief of Bee's and Bartow's brigades while they were under heavy pressure. Those who subscribe to this opinion believe that Bee's statement was meant to be pejorative: "Look at Jackson standing there like a damned stone wall!" Regardless of the controversy and the delay in relieving Bee, Jackson's brigade, which would henceforth be known as the Stonewall Brigade, stopped the Union assault and suffered more casualties than any other Southern brigade that day. After the battle, Jackson was promoted to major general (October 7, 1861) and given command of the Valley District, with headquartersmarker in Winchestermarker.

Valley Campaign

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson photographed at Winchester, Virginia 1862.

In the spring of 1862, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac approached Richmond from the southeast in the Peninsula Campaign, Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell's large corps were poised to hit Richmond from the north, and Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's army threatened the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson was ordered by Richmond to operate in the Valley to defeat Banks' threat and prevent McDowell's troops from reinforcing McClellan.

Jackson possessed the attributes to succeed against his poorly coordinated and sometimes timid opponents: a combination of great audacity, excellent knowledge and shrewd use of the terrain, and the ability to inspire his troops to great feats of marching and fighting.

The campaign started with a tactical defeat at Kernstownmarker on March 23, 1862, when faulty intelligence led him to believe he was attacking a small detachment. But it became a strategic victory for the Confederacy, because his aggressiveness suggested that he possessed a much larger force, convincing President Abraham Lincoln to keep Banks' troops in the Valley and McDowell's 30,000-man corps near Fredericksburgmarker, subtracting about 50,000 soldiers from McClellan's invasion force. As it transpired, it was Jackson's only defeat in the Valley.

By adding Maj. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's large division and Maj. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's small division, Jackson increased his army to 17,000 men. He was still significantly outnumbered, but attacked portions of his divided enemy individually at McDowellmarker, defeating both Brig. Gens. Robert H. Milroy and Robert C. Schenck. He defeated Banks at Front Royalmarker and Winchestermarker, ejecting him from the Valley. Lincoln decided that the defeat of Jackson was an immediate priority (though Jackson's orders were solely to keep Union forces occupied away from Richmond). He ordered Irvin McDowell to send 20,000 men to Front Royal and Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont to move to Harrisonburgmarker. If both forces could converge at Strasburg, Jackson's only escape route up the Valley would be cut.

After a series of maneuvers, Jackson defeated Frémont's command at Cross Keysmarker and Brig. Gen. James Shields at Port Republicmarker on June 8–9. Union forces were withdrawn from the Valley.

It was a classic military campaign of surprise and maneuver. Jackson pressed his army to travel in 48 days of marching and won five significant victories with a force of about 17,000 against a combined force of 60,000. Stonewall Jackson's reputation for moving his troops so rapidly earned them the oxymoronic nickname "foot cavalry". He became the most celebrated soldier in the Confederacy (until he was eventually eclipsed by Lee) and lifted the morale of the Southern public.


McClellan's Peninsula Campaign toward Richmond stalled at the Battle of Seven Pinesmarker on May 31 and June 1. After the Valley Campaign ended in mid-June, Jackson and his troops were called to join Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in defense of the capital. By utilizing a railroad tunnel under the Blue Ridge Mountains and then transporting troops to Hanover Countymarker on the Virginia Central Railroad, Jackson and his forces made a surprise appearance in front of McClellan at Mechanicsvillemarker. Reports had last placed Jackson's forces in the Shenandoah Valley; their presence near Richmond added greatly to the Union commander's overestimation of the strength and numbers of the forces before him. This proved a crucial factor in McClellan's decision to re-establish his base at a point many miles downstream from Richmond on the James River at Harrison's Landing, essentially a retreat that ended the Peninsula Campaign and prolonged the war almost three more years.

Jackson's troops served well under Lee in the series of battles known as the Seven Days Battles, but Jackson's own performance in those battles is generally considered to be poor. He arrived late at Mechanicsville and inexplicably ordered his men to bivouac for the night within clear earshot of the battle. He was late and disoriented at Gaines' Millmarker. He was late again at Savage's Stationmarker, and at White Oak Swampmarker, he failed to employ fording places to cross White Oak Swamp Creek, attempting for hours to rebuild a bridge, which limited his involvement to an ineffectual artillery duel and a missed opportunity. At Malvern Hillmarker, Jackson participated in the futile, piecemeal frontal assaults against entrenched Union infantry and massed artillery and suffered heavy casualties, but this was a problem for all of Lee's army in that ill-considered battle. The reasons for Jackson's sluggish and poorly coordinated actions during the Seven Days are disputed, although a severe lack of sleep after the grueling march and railroad trip from the Shenandoah Valley was probably a significant factor. Both Jackson and his troops were completely exhausted. It has also been said by Longstreet that, "General Jackson never showed his genius when under the immediate command of General Lee."

Second Bull Run to Fredericksburg

Jackson and Sorrel, painting by David Bendann.
The military reputations of Lee's corps commanders are often characterized as Stonewall Jackson representing the audacious, offensive component of Lee's army, whereas his counterpart, James Longstreet, more typically advocated and executed defensive strategies and tactics. Jackson has been described as the army's hammer, Longstreet its anvil. In the Northern Virginia Campaignmarker of August 1862, this stereotype did not hold true. Longstreet commanded the Right Wing (later to become known as the First Corps) and Jackson commanded the Left Wing. Jackson started the campaign under Lee's orders with a sweeping flanking maneuver that placed his corps into the rear of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia. At Manassas Junction Jackson was able to capture all of the supplies of the Union Army depot. Then he had his troops destroy all of it for it was the main depot for the Union Army. Jackson then retreated and then took up a defensive position and effectively invited Pope to assault him. On August 28–29, the start of the Second Battle of Bull Runmarker, Pope launched repeated assaults against Jackson as Longstreet and the remainder of the Army marched north to reach the battlefield.

On August 30, Pope came to believe that Jackson was starting to retreat, and Longstreet took advantage of this by launching a massive assault on the Union army's left with over 25,000 men. Although the Union troops put up a furious defense, Pope's army was forced to retreat in a manner similar to the embarrassing Union defeat at First Bull Run, fought on roughly the same battleground.

When Lee decided to invade the North in the Maryland Campaign, Jackson took Harpers Ferrymarker, then hastened to join the rest of the army at Sharpsburg, Marylandmarker, where they fought McClellan in the Battle of Antietammarker. Antietam was primarily a defensive battle fought against superior odds, although McClellan failed to exploit his advantage. Jackson's men bore the brunt of the initial attacks on the northern end of the battlefield and, at the end of the day, successfully resisted a breakthrough on the southern end when Jackson's subordinate, Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill, arrived at the last minute from Harpers Ferry. The Confederate forces held their position, but the battle was extremely bloody for both sides, and Lee withdrew the Army of Northern Virginia back across the Potomac River, ending the invasion. Jackson was promoted to lieutenant general. On October 10 his command was redesignated the Second Corps.

Before the armies camped for winter, Jackson's Second Corps held off a strong Union assault against the right flank of the Confederate line at the Battle of Fredericksburgmarker, in what became a decisive Confederate victory. Just before the battle, Jackson was delighted to receive a letter about the birth of his daughter, Julia Laura Jackson, on November 23. Also before the battle, Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Lee's dashing and well-dressed cavalry commander, presented to Jackson a fine general's frock that he had ordered from one of the best tailors in Richmond. Jackson's previous coat was threadbare and colorless from exposure to the elements, its buttons removed by admiring ladies. Jackson asked his staff to thank Stuart, saying that although the coat was too handsome for him, he would cherish it as a souvenir. His staff insisted that he wear it to dinner, which caused scores of soldiers to rush to see him in uncharacteristic garb. So embarrassed was Jackson with the attention that he did not wear the new uniform for months.


At the Battle of Chancellorsvillemarker, the Army of Northern Virginia was faced with a serious threat by the Army of the Potomac and its new commanding general, Major General Joseph Hooker. General Lee decided to employ a risky tactic to take the initiative and offensive away from Hooker's new southern thrust—he decided to divide his forces. Jackson and his entire corps were sent on an aggressive flanking maneuver to the right of the Union lines. This flanking movement would be one of the most successful and dramatic of the war. While riding with his infantry in a wide berth well south and west of the Federal line of battle, Jackson employed Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry to provide for better reconnaissance in regards to the exact location of the Union right and rear. The results were far better than even Jackson could have hoped. Lee found the entire right side of the Federal lines in the middle of open field, guarded merely by two guns that faced westward, as well as the supplies and rear encampments. The men were eating and playing games in carefree fashion, completely unaware that an entire Confederate corps was less than a mile away. What happened next is given in Lee's own words:

Jackson immediately returned to his corps and arranged his divisions into a line of battle to charge directly into the oblivious Federal right. The Confederates marched silently until they were merely several hundred feet from the Union position, then released a bloodthirsty cry and full charge. Many of the Federals were captured without a shot fired, the rest were driven into a full rout. Jackson pursued relentlessly back toward the center of the Federal line until dusk.

The plantation office building where Stonewall Jackson died in Guinea Station, Virginia
Darkness ended the assault. As Jackson and his staff were returning to camp on May 2, they were mistaken for a Union cavalry force by a Confederate North Carolina regiment who shouted, "Halt, who goes there?," but fired before evaluating the reply. Jackson was hit by three bullets, two in the left arm and one in the right hand. Several other men in his staff were killed in addition to many horses. Darkness and confusion prevented Jackson from getting immediate care. He was dropped from his stretcher while being evacuated because of incoming artillery rounds. Because of his injuries, Jackson's left arm had to be amputated by Dr. Hunter McGuire. Jackson was moved to Thomas C. Chandler's plantation named "Fairfield." He was offered Chandler's home for recovery, but Jackson refused and suggested using Chandler's plantation office building instead. He was thought to be out of harm's way, but unknown to the doctors, he already had classic symptoms of pneumonia, complaining of a sore chest. This soreness was mistakenly thought to be the result of his rough handling in the battlefield evacuation.


Lee wrote to Jackson after learning of his injuries, stating "Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead." Jackson died of complications from pneumonia on May 10, 1863. On his death bed, though he became weaker, he remained spiritually strong. Jackson's words were "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday." Dr. McGuire wrote an account of his final hours and his last words:

His body was moved to the Governor's Mansion in Richmond for the public to mourn, and he was then moved to be buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia. However, the arm that was amputated on May 2 was buried separately by Jackson's chaplain, at the J. Horace Lacy house, "Ellwood", in the Wilderness of Orange Countymarker, near the field hospital.

Upon hearing of Jackson's death, Robert E. Lee mourned the loss of both a friend and a trusted commander. The night Lee learned of Jackson's death, he told his cook, "William, I have lost my right arm" (deliberately in contrast to Jackson's left arm) and "I'm bleeding at the heart." As Jackson lay dying, General Robert E. Lee sent a message to Jackson through Chaplain Lacy, saying "Give General Jackson my affectionate regards, and say to him: he has lost his left arm but I my right."

Harper Weekly reported Jackson's death on May 23, 1863. It reads as follows:


Jackson's sometimes-unusual command style and personality traits, combined with his frequent success in battle, contribute to his legacy as one of the most remarkable characters of the Civil War. Although martial in attitude, he was profoundly religious, a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He disliked fighting on Sunday, although that did not stop him from doing so. He loved his wife very much and sent her tender letters. In direct contrast to Lee, Jackson was not a striking figure, often wearing old, worn-out clothes rather than a fancy uniform.

Statue of Jackson near the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

Physical ailments

Jackson held a lifelong belief that one of his arms was longer than the other, and thus usually held the "longer" arm up to equalize his circulation. He was described as a "champion sleeper", even falling asleep with food in his mouth occasionally. He also became noted throughout the Confederate Army for leading his troops in complete circles. A paper delivered to the Society of Clinical Psychologists hypothesized that Jackson had Asperger syndrome. Jackson also suffered a significant hearing loss in both of his ears as a result of his prior service in the U.S. Army as an artillery officer.

A recurring story concerns Jackson's love of lemons, which he allegedly gnawed whole to alleviate symptoms of dyspepsia. General Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, wrote a passage in his war memoirs about Jackson eating lemons: "Where Jackson got his lemons 'no fellow could find out,' but he was rarely without one." However, recent research by his biographer, James I. Robertson, Jr., has found that none of his contemporaries, including members of his staff, friends, or his wife, recorded any unusual obsessions with lemons and Jackson thought of a lemon as a "rare treat ... enjoyed greatly whenever it could be obtained from the enemy's camp". Jackson was fond of all fruits, particularly peaches, "but he enjoyed with relish lemons, oranges, watermelons, apples, grapes, berries, or whatever was available."

Command style

In command, Jackson was extremely secretive about his plans and extremely punctilious about military discipline. This secretive nature did not stand him in good stead with his subordinates, who were often not aware of his overall operational intentions and complained of being left out of key decisions.

Robert E. Lee could trust Jackson with deliberately non-detailed orders that conveyed Lee's overall objectives, what modern doctrine calls the "end state". This was because Jackson had a talent for understanding Lee's sometimes unstated goals and Lee trusted Jackson with the ability to take whatever actions were necessary to implement his end state requirements. Many of Lee's subsequent corps commanders did not have this ability. At Gettysburg, this resulted in lost opportunities. Thus, after the Federals retreated to the heights south of town, Lee sent one of his new corps commanders, Richard S. Ewell, discretionary orders that the heights (Cemetery Hillmarker and Culp's Hillmarker) be taken "if practicable". Without Jackson's intuitive grasp of Lee's orders or the instinct to take advantage of sudden tactical opportunities, Ewell chose not to attempt the assault, and this failure is considered by historians to be the greatest missed opportunity of the battle.


Jackson had a poor reputation as a horseman. One of his soldiers, Georgia volunteer William Andrews, wrote that Jackson was "a very ordinary looking man of medium size, his uniform badly soiled as though it had seen hard service. He wore a cap pulled down nearly to his nose and was riding a rawboned horse that did not look much like a charger, unless it would be on hay or clover. He certainly made a poor figure on a horseback, with his stirrup leather six inches too short, putting his knees nearly level with his horse's back, and his heels turned out with his toes sticking behind his horse's foreshoulder. A sorry description of our most famous general, but a correct one." His horse was named "Little Sorrel" (also known as "Old Sorrel"), a small chestnut gelding. He rode Little Sorrel throughout the war, and was riding him when he was shot at Chancellorsville. Little Sorrel died at age 36 and is buried near a statue of Jackson on the parade grounds of VMI. (His mounted hide is on display in the VMI Museum.)

Mourning his death

The South mourned his death as he was greatly admired there. A poem penned by one of his soldiers soon became a very popular song, "Stonewall Jackson's Way". Many theorists through the years have postulated that if Jackson had lived, Lee might have prevailed at Gettysburgmarker. Certainly Jackson's discipline and tactical sense were sorely missed, and might well have carried an extremely close-fought battle.

Remembering Jackson

General Lee's last visit to Stonewall Jackson's grave, painting by Louis Eckhardt, 1872.

After the war, Jackson's wife and young daughter Julia moved from Lexington to North Carolina. Mary Anna Jackson wrote two books about her husband's life, including some of his letters. She never remarried, and was known as the "Widow of the Confederacy", living until 1915. His daughter Julia married, and bore children, but she died of typhoid fever at the age of 26 years.

A former Confederate soldier who admired Jackson, Captain Thomas R. Ranson of Staunton, Virginiamarker, also remembered the tragic life of Jackson's mother. Years after the War, he went to the tiny mountain hamlet of Anstedmarker in Fayette County, West Virginiamarker, and had a marble marker placed over the unmarked grave of Julia Neale Jackson in Westlake Cemetery, to make sure that the site was not lost forever.


West Virginiamarker's Stonewall Jackson State Park is named in his honor. Nearby, at Stonewall Jackson's historical childhood home, his uncle's grist mill is the centerpiece of a historical site at the Jackson's Mill Center for Lifelong Learning and State 4-H Camp. The facility, located near Westonmarker, serves as a special campus for West Virginia Universitymarker and the WVU Extension Service.

He is memorialized on historic Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia; on the grounds of the state capitol in his native West Virginia; and in many other places.

At VMI, a bronze statue of Jackson stands outside the main entrance to the cadet barracks; first-year cadets exiting the barracks through that archway are required to honor Jackson's memory by saluting the statue.

The United States Navy submarine U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson (SSBN 634), commissioned in 1964, was named for him. The words "Strength—Mobility" are emblazoned on the ship's banner, words taken from letters written by General Jackson. It was the third U.S. Navy ship named for him. The submarine was decommissioned in 1995. During World War II, the Navy named a Liberty ship the SS T.J. Jackson in his honor.

The Commonwealth of Virginia honors Jackson's birthday on Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday observed as such since 1904. It is currently observed on the Friday preceding the third Monday in January.

Jackson also appears prominently in the enormous bas-relief carving on the face of Stone Mountainmarker riding with Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. The carving depicts the three on horseback, appearing to ride in a group from right to left across the mountainside. The lower parts of the horses' bodies merge into the mountainside at the foot of the carving. The three riders are shown bare-headed and holding their hats to their chests. It is the largest such carving in the world.

"Stonewall" Jackson appeared on the CSA $500 bill (7th Issue, February 17, 1864).

The towns of Stonewall in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Kentucky are named in his honor as is Stonewall County in Texas.

In popular media

Jackson is featured prominently in the novel and film Gods and Generals. In the film, he is portrayed by Stephen Lang.

The Theater at Lime Kiln, a local outdoor theater company in Lexington, Virginia, has performed a country-style musical about the life and times of Stonewall Jackson entitled Stonewall Country since 1984.


See also


  1. Eicher, High Commands, p. 316; Robertson, p. 7. The physician, Dr. James McCally, recalls delivering baby Thomas just before midnight on January 20, but the family has insisted since then that he was born in the first minutes of January 21. The later date is the one generally acknowledged in biographies.
  2. Jackson biography at Civil War Home.
  3. Robertson, pp. 1-2.
  4. Robertson, pp. 2-3.
  5. VMI Jackson genealogy site; Robertson, p. 4.
  6. Robertson, p. 7.
  7. Robertson, p. 8.
  8. Robertson, p. 10.
  9. Robertson, pp. 9-16. Robertson refers to multiple bachelor uncles in residence at the mill, but does not name them.
  10. Robertson, p. 17.
  11. Robertson, p. 69.
  12. Robertson, pp. 108-10. He left the Army on March 21, 1851, but stayed on the rolls, officially on furlough, for nine months. His resignation took effect formally on February 29, 1852, and he joined the VMI faculty in August 1851.
  13. Virginia Military Institute Archives: Stonewall Jackson FAQ
  14. Jackson, Mary Anna, Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson, by His Widow (Louisville, Ky, 1895), 78.
  15. Robertson, p. 169.
  16. Robertson, pp. 191-92.
  17. Jackson, 152.
  18. Robertson, p. 191.
  19. Robertson, p. 157.
  20. Eicher, High Commands, p. 316.
  21. Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants, vol. 1, p. 82; Robertson, p. 264. McPherson, p. 342, reports the quotation after "stone wall" as being "Rally around the Virginians!"
  22. See, for instance, Goldfield, David, et al., The American Journey: A History of the United States, Prentice Hall, 1999, ISBN 0-13-088243-7. There are additional controversies about what Bee said and whether he said anything at all. See Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants, vol. 1, pp. 733–34.
  23. McPherson, p. 342.
  24. See, for instance, Freeman, R.E. Lee, vol. 2, p. 247: "... by every test, Jackson had failed throughout the Seven Days. This is in part to being unfamiliar with the area and to following orders which stated he was to wait until he had communicated with the others before starting a battle." Confederate politician Robert Toombs wrote that "Stonewall Jackson and his troops did little or nothing in these battles of the Chickahominy" (Robertson, p. 504).
  25. Wert, p. 206.
  26. Robertson, p. 645.
  27. Robertson, p. 630.
  28. Apperson, p.430
  29. Robertson, p. 739
  30. Robertson, p. 746.
  32. Fitzgerald, Michael, Society of Clinical Psychologists paper.
  33. Taylor, p. 50
  34. Robertson, p. xi.
  35. Robertson, p. xiv.
  36. Pfanz, p. 344; Eicher, Longest Night, p. 517; Sears, p. 228; Trudeau, p. 253. Both Sears and Trudeau record "if possible".
  37. Robertson, p. 499.
  38. Robertson, p. 230.
  39. "Little Sorrel Buried at VMI July 20, 1997"; Robertson, p. 922, n. 16.
  40. See, for instance, Sears, Gettysburg, pp. 233-34. Alternative theories about Gettysburg are prominent ideas in the literature about the Lost Cause.
  41. VMI article about Jackson
  42. article


Further reading

  • Addey, Markfield, Stonewall Jackson: Life and Military Career (New York, 1863)
  • Chambers, Lenoir, Stonewall Jackson (Two Volumes, New York, 1959)
  • Cooke, John Esten, Moses Drury Hoge, John William Jones, Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography, D. Appleton and Company, 1876.
  • Dabney, R. L., Life of General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson (New York, 1866)
  • Jackson, M. A. M., Memoirs (Louisville, 1895)
  • McGuire and Christian, Confederate Cause and Conduct in the War between the States (Richmond, 1907)
  • White, H. A., Stonewall Jackson (Philadelphia, 1909)
  • Wilkins, J. Steven, All Things for Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, Cumberland House Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-58182-225-1.
  • Williamson, M. L., Life of General Thomas F. [sic] Jackson (Richmond, 1901)

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