Thomas Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). He was orphaned early and raised by relatives. Jackson
entered West Point in 1842 and through determination became an excellent student.
In 1846 Jackson saw his first military action, serving as a second lieutenant of artillery in the Mexican War. He was promoted to first lieutenant and remained with the occupation forces in Mexico at the war’s end.
Jackson resigned from the army in 1851 and accepted a teaching assignment at the Virginia Military Institute, where he was a professor of natural philosophy and an instructor in artillery tactics. From his students' reports, Jackson was not a natural teacher; he was highly structured and very reserved. He was labeled “Tom Fool Jackson” by some of his pupils.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Jackson sided with the Confederacy and did a remarkable job of forging Virginia volunteers into an effective fighting force. He was then assigned to Harper’s Ferry and the Shenandoah Valley, but was succeeded by Joseph E. Johnston. In July 1861, Jackson and his forces came to the aid of P.G.T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run, where he (and his soldiers) were nicknamed “Stonewall” for making a determined stand.
In the spring of 1862 Jackson returned to the Shenandoah Valley where his diversionary tactics prevented Union soldiers from supporting George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. Jackson bested Union generals John C. Frémont and Nathaniel Banks. Jackson joined Robert E. Lee in the Seven Days’ Battles fought in the defense of Richmond, the Confederate capital. Jackson’s performance lacked aggressiveness, but he regained his stride in the defeat of John Pope at Cedar Mountain in August 1862, setting the stage for the Confederate victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Jackson led his forces in taking Harper’s Ferry in September and, later that month, commanded the left wing at Antietam and was promoted to lieutenant general. In December Jackson prevailed against Ambrose Burnside at Fredericksburg.
In May 1863, Jackson’s forces executed a successful flanking maneuver around Thomas Hooker, but Jackson, returning to his soldiers after dark, was mistakenly shot by one of his own men. His left arm was amputated and it appeared that he would recover; however, he contracted pneumonia and died on May 10.
Stonewall Jackson was Lee’s most talented lieutenant, but he never had the stage to himself in which to demonstrate his skills in an independent command. Lee lamented after hearing that Jackson had been wounded, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.” No other commander could match Jackson’s skill at rapid troop deployment.
Jackson was fired with religious certainty and, despite his devotion of stern discipline, he was respected by his soldiers.
---- Selected Quotes ----
Quotes by Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
Regarding Civil War
The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
Speech to VMI cadets, March, 1861
Captain, 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. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
Speaking to Captain John D. Imboden, 1861
Quotes regarding Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
By General Bernard Elliott Bee
Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!
First Battle of Bull Run
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