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General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

Before you start calling him a racist and tearing his statue down, you might want to read this.

Thomas Jonathan  Jackson was born January 21, 1824, Clarksburg, WV. Clarksville was then part of Virginia.  Jackson was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He graduated 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846.

Jackson distinguished himself during the Mexican/American War.  Commanding a battery of artillery, he found himself of the vanguard of the entire American Army.  On one occasion, his battery of 3 six pounders and a brigade of infantry chased the entine Mexican Army for six miles. For these actions, he was promoted to Brevet Major.

After the war, he was posted to several Forts acting as the quartermaster or commisariate.  In 1851 he resigned from the Army and accepted a position at the Virginia Military Institute.  He taught  Natural and Experimental Philosophy (physics) and instructed the cadets in artillery.

LIBERALS PAY ATTENTION

By the time the Civil War started, Jackson had carved out a comfortable middle class life.  He owned a small farm and a tannery.  He also owned six slaves.  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. The slave, Amy also requested that Jackson purchase her from a public slave 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. Jackson was not a harsh master.  He treated his slaves more like employees or sometimes family.  All were provided a pension for old age except for Emma who’s care was provided for her entire life.

Jackson was revered by many of the African Americans in town, both slaves and free blacks. In 1855, he was instrumental in the organization 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”.

Thomas J. Jackson was called many things in his life.,  hypochondriac, idiot, aloof, religious Zealot and genius.  His nicknames included “Tom Fool”, “Old Jack” and of course “Stonewall”.

THE CIVIL WAR

Jackson’s first assignment was to march his VMI cadets to Richmond and use the cadets to train the thousands of volunteers that were descending on the city.  He and his cadets also provided security for the hanging of John Brown.

In combat, his Area of Operation was the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  He had fought suscession until the last minute and only agreed to command the First Virginia Brigade when Virginia was invaded.  He was the first Commander to realize the brutality required in modern warfare.  Later in the war, Union Generals Grant and Sherman adopted the same tatics Jackson had used.  Historians agree that Jackson’s agressiveness and ability to see enemy weaknesses and taking immeadiate action produced the lengedary victories of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee.

On May 2nd, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, General “Stonewall” Jackson was shot my his own pickets.  Surgeons amputated is left arm.  He survived the amputation and yet died of pneumonia on May 10, 1863.

On his deathbed, he asked his wife what his prognosis was.  She told him the the doctors feared he would die this day. He then asked what day it was ans she said it was Sunday. “Very well”, he replied “I always wanted to die on a Sunday”.

Dr. McGuire wrote an account of Jackson’s final hours and last words:

“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.”

Jackson is well portrayed by Stephen Lang, in the movie, “Gods and Generals”.

To read more about the life of this remarable man, please read

 
I’m looking at you Taylor Morton.

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