- NAME: Stonewall Jackson
- OCCUPATION: Educator, General
- BIRTH DATE: January 21, 1824
- DEATH DATE: May 10, 1863
- EDUCATION: U.S. Military Academy at West Point
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Clarksburg (then Virginia), West Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Guinea Station, Virginia
- Full Name: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
- AKA: Thomas Jackson
Best Known For
Stonewall Jackson was a leading Confederate general during the U.S. Civil War, commanding forces at Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
Stonewall Jackson rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (known by Southerners as First Manassas) in July, 1861.
Stonewall Jackson pressed his army to travel 646 miles in 48 days of marching and won five significant victories with a force of about 17,000 against a combined force of 60,000.
Gen. Robert E. Lee could trust Stonewall Jackson with deliberately non-detailed orders that conveyed Lee's overall objectives, what modern doctrine calls the "end state."
Military historians consider Stonewall Jackson to be one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history.
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His classes also covered astronomy, acoustics and other science subjects.
As a professor, Jackson’s cold demeanor and strange quirks made him unpopular among his students. Grappling with hypochondria, the false belief that something was physically wrong with him, Jackson kept one arm raised while teaching, thinking it would hide a nonexistent unevenness in the length of his extremities. Although his students made fun of his eccentricities,
Jackson was generally acknowledged as an effective professor of artillery tactics.
In 1853, during his years as a civilian, Jackson met and married Elinor Junkin, daughter of Presbyterian minister Dr. George Junkin. In October of 1854, Elinor died during childbirth, after giving birth to a stillborn son. In July 1857, Jackson remarried to Mary Anna Morrison. In April 1859, Jackson and his second wife had a daughter. Tragically, the infant died within less than a month of her birth. In November of that year, Jackson reengaged in military life when he served as a VMI officer at abolitionist John Brown’s execution following his revolt at Harper’s Ferry. In 1862 Jackson’s wife had another daughter, whom they named Julia, after Jackson’s mother.
Between late 1860 and early 1861, several Southern U.S. states declared their independence and seceded from the Union. At first it was Jackson’s desire that Virginia, then his home state, would stay in the Union. But when Virginia seceded in the spring of 1861, Jackson showed his support of the Confederacy, choosing to side with his state over the national government.
On April 21, 1861, Jackson was ordered to VMI, where he was placed in command of the VMI Corps of Cadets. At the time, the cadets were acting as drillmasters, training new recruits to fight in the Civil War. Soon after, Jackson was commissioned a colonel by the state government and relocated to Harper’s Ferry. After preparing the troops for what would later be called the "Stonewall Brigade," Jackson was promoted to the roles of brigadier commander and brigadier general under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston.
It was at the First Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861, otherwise known as the First Battle of Manassas, that Jackson earned his famous nickname, Stonewall. When Jackson charged his army ahead to bridge a gap in the defensive line against a Union attack, General Barnard E. Bee, impressed, exclaimed, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall." Afterward, the nickname stuck, and Jackson was promoted to major general for his courage and quick thinking on the battlefield.
In the spring of the next year, Jackson launched the Valley of Virginia, or Shenandoah Valley, Campaign. He began the campaign by defending western Virginia against the Union Army’s invasion. After leading the Confederate Army to several victories, Jackson was ordered to join General Robert E. Lee’s army in 1862. Joining Lee in the Peninsula, Jackson continued to fight in defense of Virginia.
From June 15 to July 1, 1862, Jackson exhibited uncharacteristically poor leadership while trying to defend Virginia’s capital city of Richmond against General George McClellan’s Union troops.
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