QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-01 > 1106355359
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 19:55:59 EST
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 - May 10, 1863) was an
American teacher and soldier. He was became a famous Confederate general
during the American Civil War, and was killed during the conflict.
Thomas Jonathon Jackson was the third child of Julia Neale Jackson
(1878-1831) and Jonathan Jackson (1790-1826), an attorney. Both native Virginians, his
parents were living in Clarksburg and already had two young children when,
on January 21, 1824, their second son was born. Two years later, tragedy
struck the young family. The father, Jonathan Jackson, and daughter Elizabeth,
aged 6, died of typhoid fever. Julia gave birth to Thomas' sister Laura Ann the
A young widow of 28, Julia Neale Jackson was left with debts and sold
everything to pay them. She declined family charity, and moved into a small
one-room house. Julia took in sewing and taught school to support herself and her 3
young children for about 4 years. In 1830, she remarried, but her new
husband, also an attorney, did not like his stepchildren, and there were continuing
financial problems. Then, after giving birth to Thomas' stepbrother, she died
of complications, leaving her three children orphaned. She was buried in an
unmarked grave in a homemade coffin in a small town along the James River and
Kanawha Turnpike in Fayette County.
Seven-year old Thomas and younger his sister Laura Ann, were sent to live
with their paternal uncle, Cummins Jackson, who owned a grist mill in Jackson's
Mill, Virginia (near present-day Weston, West Virginia). Their older brother,
Warren, went to live with other relatives on his mother's side of the
family, but he died of tuberculosis in 1841 at the age of 20.
Young Thomas helped around his uncle's farm, tending sheep with the
assistance of a sheep dog, driving teams of oxen and helping harvest the fields of
wheat and corn. Formal education was not easily obtained, but he attended
school when and where he could. Much of Thomas Jackson's education was
self-taught. He would often sit up at night reading by the flickering light of burning
pine knots. The story is told that Thomas once made a deal with one of his
uncle's slaves to provide him with pine knots in exchange for reading lessons.
This was in violation of a law in Virginia at that time that forbade teaching
a slave to read or write, but nevertheless, Jackson taught the man as
promised. In his later years at Jackson's Mill, Thomas served as a schoolteacher.
a poor boy goes to West Point
After being raised by his paternal uncles, in 1842, young Thomas Jackson was
appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Because of his inadequate schooling, he had difficulty with the entrance
examinations. As a student, he had to work several times 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.
Thomas Jackson graduated 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846.
U.S. Army, the Mexican War
Young Lieutenant Jackson began his U.S. Army career in the First Artillery
Regiment. He was sent to fight in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848. Again, his
unusual character emerged. When he refused what he felt was a "bad order,"
to withdraw his troops, he was confronted another superior. He explained his
rationale, and claimed that, with only 50 more troops, he could persevere and
win the particular situation. His judgment proved correct, earning field
promotion to the temporary rank of major.
He served at Veracruz, Contreras, Chapultepec, and Mexico City, eventually
earning two brevets. While serving in Mexico, Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.
Virginia Military Institute
In the spring of 1851, Thomas Jackson was offered and accepted a
newly-created position to teach at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in Lexington,
Virginia. He became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and
Instructor of Artillery. Jackson's teachings are still used today at VMI today.
The reason they are still used today is because the things he taught can be
interconnected with a battle and can be used very effectively if done right.
However, despite the quality of his work, he was not popular as a teacher. The
students mocked his apparently stern, religious nature and his eccentric
While an instructor at VMI, in 1853, Thomas Jackson married a woman named
Elinor "Ellie" Junkin , whose father was president of Washington College in
Lexington. A son was born to them but unfortunately, Ellie died during
childbirth and the newborn child died immediately following the birth.
After a tour of Europe, in 1857, Jackson married again. Mary Anna Morrison
was from North Carolina, where her father was the first president of Davidson
University. 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 famous father's death. The Jackson's named her Julia Laura, after
his mother and sister.
In November 1859, at the request of the governor of Virginia, Major William
Gilham led a contingent of the VMI Cadet Coros to Charles Town to provide an
additional military presence for at the execution by hanging on December 2,
1859 of militant abolitionist John Brown following his raid on the federal
arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Major Jackson was placed in command of the artillery,
consisting of two howitzers manned by 21 cadets.
American Civil War
In 186, as the American Civil War broke out, the Confederate Army had a lot
of new recruits and he became a drill master of new army recruits. He was
eventually given command of a brigade. On April 27, 1861, Virginia Governor John
Letcher ordered Colonel Jackson to take command at Harper's Ferry where he
would comprise the famous "Stonewall Brigade." The fabled brigade was made up
of 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia infantry units. All of the units
were from the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia.
During the charge that took place at Harper’s Ferry, Colonel Jackson jumped
in front of a soldier that was about to be killed by a sword thrust and killed
the man that was attacking the soldier. Jackson did this many times to save
his men. After the battle of Harper’s Ferry, because of his bravery, he was
promoted to brigadier general.
Jackson rose to prominence and earned his nickname after the first battle of
Bull Run (also known as the First Battle of Manassas) in July 1861, when
Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee exhorted his own troops to reform by shouting,
"There stands Jackson like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!" Jackson
was quickly promoted to divisional command.
In May and June of 1862, he was given an independent command in the
Shenandoah Valley. There he soundly thrashed the Union forces in a series of battles,
showing great audacity, excellent knowledge and shrewd usage of the terrain,
and the ability to inspire his troops to great feats of marching and
fighting. With not more than 17,000 men, he defeated 60,000 Union troops in a series
of lightning marches and brilliant battles.
After the campaign ended in mid-June, he and his troops were called to
Richmond, Virginia, to help oppose McClellan's advance up the York-James during
the Peninsula Campaign. They served under Robert E Lee in the series of battles
known as the Seven Days' Battles. Jackson's performance in those battles is
generally considered to be lackluster, for reasons that are disputed, though a
severe lack of sleep after the grueling march from the Valley was probably a
Jackson was now a corps commander under Lee. At Second Battle of Bull Run (or
the Second Battle of Manassas), he helped to administer the Federals another
defeat on the same grounds as in 1861. When Lee decided to invade the North,
Jackson took Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, then hastened to join the rest of
the army at Sharpsburg, Maryland, where they fought McClellan in the battle
of Antietam. The Confederate forces held their position, but the battle had
been extremely bloody for both sides, and Lee took the Army of Northern
Virginia back across the Potomac River, ending the invasion.
Jackson's troops held off a ferocious Union assault at Fredericksburg,
Virginia. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson's forces flanked the Union
army, and in an intense battle deep in the tangled woods drove them back from
their lines. Darkness ended the assault, and by bad luck Jackson and his staff
were mistaken for a Union cavalry force by Confederate troops and fired upon.
Jackson was hit by three bullets; his arm had to be amputated, and he died
seven days later of pneumonia. Jackson's dying words: "Let us cross the river
and rest in the shades of the trees".
Upon hearing of Jackson's death, Robert E. Lee mourned the loss of both a
friend and a trusted commander. The night Lee heard of Jackson's death, he told
his cook, "William, I have lost my right arm", and "I'm bleeding at the
Jackson is considered one of the great characters of the Civil War. He was
profoundly religious, a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He disliked fighting
on Sunday, though that did not stop him from doing so. He loved his wife
very much and sent her tender letters. He generally wore old, worn-out clothes
rather than a fancy uniform, and often looked more like a moth-eaten private
than a corps commander. He was also known to regularly chew lemons during
marches, a taste for which he had acquired during his time in Mexico.
In command Jackson was extremely secretive about his plans and extremely
punctilious about military discipline. The South mourned his death; he was
greatly admired there. He is buried at VMI, and memorialized on Georgia's Stone
Mountain, on Monument Avenue in Richmond, and in many other places.
After the War, his 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" and lived until 1915.
A former Confederate soldier who admired Jackson, Thomas Ranson of Staunton,
Virginia, also remembered the tragic life of Jackson's mother. He went to
Ansted, West Virginia, 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
Stonewall Jackson's historical childhood home at his Uncle's mill has become
preserved. There, the Jackson's Mill Center for Lifelong Learning and State
4-H Camp is located. The facility, located in Weston, West Virginia, serves as
a special campus for West Virginia University and the WVU Extension Service.
The United States Navy submarine U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson (SSBN 634),
commissioned in 1964, was named for Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall"
Jackson. The words "Strength -- Mobility" are emblazoned on the ship's
banner. The words are taken from letters written by General Jackson, and were said
to apply to the Polaris submarine as well as to the tactics he used so
successfully. The submarine was decomissioned in 1995.