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General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

The reputation of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson exceeded that of almost any man on either side in the American Civil War. His opponents held him in awe, and, at his early death, the Confederacy believed it had suffered one of the worst blows of the war. His death provoked a wave of emotion in Europe, marking the size of his reputation, and, in general, his popularity placed him the head of the Pantheon of heroic figures emerging from the long, bloody war. But, the most interesting aspect of Jackson's great fame was that it was based almost entirely on his extraordinary strategic and leadership skills. Unlike many other popular heroes of the war, Jackson was not young, dashing, or handsome. "According to notions of the day, he hardly looked like a soldier," and Jackson's behavior and beliefs, were precisely the opposite of those in the popular picture of heroism. In the "Stonewall" legend, it was steadfastness, commitment, and unmoving determination that formed the heroic core.

His contemporary legend may have exaggerated whatever superficially heroic traits he may have possessed. But, the legend was based on the genuine devotion of his men, and the deep appreciation of his peers and leaders for his military genius. Those who read of his exploits may have formed a somewhat different picture of him. But, to those who knew him, this "little old drid [dried] up looking man," with many strange nicknames, was also the man of whom Robert E. Lee said, "If I had had Jackson at Gettysburg, I should have won that battle, and a complete victory there would have resulted in the independence of the South."

Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (later West Virginia) in 1824. He was orphaned at an early age, and was raised by an impoverished uncle. His early education was uneven and, when his uncle used his influence to get Jackson an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy, the young man was far behind his peers in...

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General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:57, August 03, 2020, from