Monday, November 5, 2012

General Thomas J."Stonewall" Jackson

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
Here I begin my report on Thomas Jonathan Jackson, known famously and throughout this report as Stonewall Jackson. I want to focus mainly on his military career in the C.S.A. and his spiritual life, but in doing so I must also include some of his early child hood and life before 1861. ­­­­­­­­

Stonewall Jackson was born on Jan. 21, 1824, to Jonathan and Julia Jackson in Clarksburg, WV (then VA). Stonewall’s father died in March, 1826 leaving his mother a widow. Julia Jackson married in Mr. Woodson, a lawyer, in 1830. Because her second husband was not a rich man she was forced to send her children away to relatives. The only time Thomas ever saw his mother again was on her death bed. He lived most of his young life with his uncle, Cummins Jackson.  Even then, Cummins realized that at a young age, Thomas was extremely noble.

In 1842, Jackson was accepted to West Point. As a soldier Thomas was a genius in military tactics, but as a student he had to work hard. He refused to move onto the next lesson until he had mastered the last one which always left him behind the other students. But when he put his mind to something he determined to master it. While he was at West Point he wrote for himself a book of maxims. The most notable one being, “You may be whatever you resolve to be.” Proving this very point is the fact that in his four years as a student in VMI, he went from ranking 51 in his class, to graduating at 17th out of 59. Jackson graduated in 1846 when he was 22 years old.

Immediately after his graduation, he joined the United States army, with the rank of Second Lieutenant of Artillery. Jackson was then sent to Mexico to serve under General Scott. Jackson was a part of the siege of Vera Cruz and several more. He was a good soldier and was later recognized by Winfield Scott with a supper in his honor for receiving the most promotions of any other officer, ending with Major. It was in Mexico that Jackson beginning thinking about the God and the Bible. On May 26, 1848 the USA signed a peace treaty with Mexico and ended the fighting. After the end of the Mexican war, Jackson was sent to two different forts. The first being Fort Hamilton, and the second, Fort Meade. It was while he was at Fort Meade that he received word that he was elected professor at VMI for natural and experimental philosophy as well as artillery tactics.

While being at VMI as a professor, Jackson used his old method of study. He would often stay after one class and study the next day’s lesson so he could be prepared. He was always punctual and usually arrived early for class so he could spend time praying for the students and classes of the day. He wasn’t always a popular professor because he was sometimes strict and stern, but they respected him. During the time he was a professor, he met Eleanor Junkin, the daughter of a preacher, and they were married Aug 4, 1853. Sadly, she died around a year later. On July 16, 1857, he married Mary Anna Morrison, also the daughter of a preacher. Although a strict professor and military commander he was a gentle, kind husband.

On April 21, 1861, Jackson was called to the join the Confederate forces and take charge at Harpers Ferry. Jackson assembled his brigade which would become known as the “Stonewall Brigade”. It was formed from the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry Regiments. The first major battle took place on July 21, 1861. The battle is called the “First Manassas”. It is reported that Barnard Bee seeing Jackson and his men holding the hill that they were on strongly said “There stand Jackson like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!” Another author (who rode with Stonewall Jackson) quotes it as “Look! There is Jackson’s brigade standing behind you like a stone wall!” And way it is written, that is how Jackson and his brigade earned their nicknames. After this battle he was promoted to major general.

Despite the fame he gained at the First Manassas, arguably the most famous is his Valley Campaign. He was only defeated once during the whole campaign at Kernstown, but it became a great tactical victory because it made Lincoln to believe that Jackson had a much larger force than he really did. After several victories and tactical defeats the Union forces were withdrawn from the Valley. As written in in John w. Jones’ book “Christ in the Camp”, during the times where the troops were at rest in their camps Jackson did his best to retain services on Sunday and sometimes ordered prayers of thanksgiving to God for different victories.

In 1862, Anna Jackson had a daughter which they names Julia Laura. She was the only child of Jackson’s that survived. She was born only a year or less before her father’s death.

On April 30- May 6 the battle of Chancellorsville was fought. In this battle Lee’s strategic move to divide his forces to overcome the foe resulted in a decisive victory. Jackson and his men were sent on a flanking attack. Jackson appointed Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry to spy out the enemies’ position. When he returned he had the triumphant report that the enemy’s right side of their lines were only guarded by two guns and the men were not in attention but playing games, etc. Here is a quote from Fitzhugh Lee about his dealings with Jackson: So impressed was I with my discovery, that I rode rapidly back to the point on the Plank road where I had left my cavalry, and back down the road Jackson was moving, until I met "Stonewall" himself. "General," said I, "if you will ride with me, halting your column here, out of sight, I will show you the enemy's right, and you will perceive the great advantage of attacking down the Old turnpike instead of the Plank road, the enemy's lines being taken in reverse. Bring only one courier, as you will be in view from the top of the hill." Jackson assented, and I rapidly conducted him to the point of observation. There had been no change in the picture. I only knew Jackson slightly. I watched him closely as he gazed upon Howard's troops. It was then about 2 P.M. His eyes burned with a brilliant glow, lighting up a sad face. His expression was one of intense interest, his face was colored slightly with the paint of approaching battle, and radiant at the success of his flank movement. To the remarks made to him while the unconscious line of blue was pointed out, he did not reply once during the five minutes he was on the hill, and yet his lips were moving. From what I have read and heard of Jackson since that day, I know now what he was doing then. Oh! "beware of rashness," General Hooker. Stonewall Jackson is praying in full view and in rear of your right flank! While talking to the Great God of Battles, how could he hear what a poor cavalryman was saying. "Tell General Rodes," said he, suddenly whirling his horse towards the courier, "to move across the Old plank road; halt when he gets to the Old turnpike, and I will join him there." One more look upon the Federal lines, and then he rode rapidly down the hill, his arms flapping to the motion of his horse, over whose head it seemed, good rider as he was, he would certainly go. I expected to be told I had made a valuable personal reconnaissance—saving the lives of many soldiers, and that Jackson was indebted to me to that amount at least. Perhaps I might have been a little chagrined at Jackson's silence, and hence commented inwardly and adversely upon his horsemanship. Alas! I had looked upon him for the last time.” 1
On May 2, Jackson and his men pursued the enemy until dark. As they were returning home Jackson and his men were mistaken for the enemy and fired upon by the 18th North Carolina Infantry. Jackson was wounded by three bullets, one in the right hand and two in the left arm. Because of the darkness he was dropped from his place in the stretcher several times and couldn’t receive immediate care. His left arm was amputated by his doctor, Hunter McGuire. Jackson complained of pain in his chest and it was mistaken as pain from being dropped. Unbeknownst to the doctors it was signs of pneumonia.  On Sunday May 10, Jackson upon hearing he was most likely would enter into the presence of the Lord that day replied "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."2 Later that day he entered a state of delirium from his condition. His last few moments and words were reported by Dr. Hunter McGuire in this way:  A few moments before he died he cried out in his delirium, "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks"—then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he said quietly, and with an expression, as if of relief, "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."3

Upon hearing of Jackson’s death Lee said “I have lost my right arm” and was also reported as saying “I’m bleeding at the heart.” His words were probably the sentiments of the entire south. The death of Jackson was one of the hardest blows the Confederacy took.  I don’t believe Lee ever recovered from the loss. Jackson’s widow, Anna Jackson, never again married.

“My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. ... That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”- Jackson lived this way until the end.

 1, 2, & 3- Direct quotes take from

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