Stonewall Jackson Biography

Thomas Jonathan Jackson, also known as Stonewall Jackson, was a renowned Confederate general during the American Civil War. Despite a challenging upbringing and limited education, he excelled in his military career. Jackson earned his nickname “Stonewall” for his unwavering bravery and strategic maneuvers at the First Battle of Bull Run. Known for his strict discipline and ability to exploit his enemies’ weaknesses, he became one of the most accomplished generals in the Confederate Army. Tragically, Jackson’s life was cut short when he was mistakenly fired upon and suffered a severe arm injury, leading to his untimely death. Today, his legacy lives on, with the Stonewall Jackson State Park in West Virginia named in his honor.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: Stonewall, Old Jack, Old Blue Light, Tom Fool
  • Also Known As: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
  • Died At Age: 39
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Elinor Jackson, Mary Anna Jackson
    • Father: Jonathan Jackson
    • Mother: Julia Neale Jackson
  • Military Leaders
  • American Men
  • Died on: May 10, 1863
  • Place of death: Guinea, Virginia, United States
  • U.S. State: West Virginia
  • Ancestry: British American
  • Cause of Death: Pneumonia
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Stonewall Brigade
  • More Facts
  • Education: United States Military Academy

Childhood & Early Life

Stonewall Jackson, born Thomas Jonathan Jackson on January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia, US, was the third child of Julia Beckwith Jackson and Jonathan Jackson. Unfortunately, his elder sister died of typhoid when he was two years old, followed by the death of his father due to the same disease. His mother gave birth to his youngest sister a day after his father’s death and had to raise three children on her own. Jackson’s mother remarried in 1830, but his stepfather did not like his stepchildren. His elder brother went to live with his mother’s family and died of tuberculosis in 1841. Jackson and his younger sister, Ann, went to live with their half-uncle, Cummins Jackson, in Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County, West Virginia. Jackson later went to stay with his paternal aunt, Polly, for a while, but did not get along with her husband and returned to Jackson’s Mill. There, he helped with farming and educated himself by reading books.

Career

In 1842, Jackson joined the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Despite his informal schooling, he worked hard and secured the 17th position among 59 cadets in 1846. After graduating, he began his career with the US army as a second lieutenant in the 1st US Artillery Regiment. He fought in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848, displaying an aggressive spirit and sound judgment. By the end of the war, he was promoted to the rank of major.

Jackson then served in various forts as part of the American effort to push the native Seminoles further west. He had serious differences with his commanding officer at Fort Meade and eventually took up an instructional assignment at the Virginia Military Institute in 1851. He was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy and an instructor of artillery. During his time at the institute, he commanded an artillery contingent to provide additional military presence at the hanging of John Brown, a militant.

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Jackson was a drill master for the Confederate Army recruits. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a brigadier general after leading successful raids on the B&O Railroad. He earned the nickname “Stonewall” at the First Battle of Bull Run for his brigade’s steadfastness. Jackson’s troops, known as the Stonewall Brigade, became famous for their discipline and fighting spirit. He continued to achieve significant victories in the Valley District, earning a reputation as an audacious and offensive military leader.

Awards & Achievements

Stonewall Jackson is considered one of the most accomplished generals of the Confederate Army. The Stonewall Jackson State Park in West Virginia is named after him, and he has been featured on postage stamps. Several books have been written about his military genius.

Personal Life & Legacy

Jackson was not known for his appearance, as he was of average height and usually dressed shabbily. He was not a skilled horseman and often wore his cap pulled down to his nose. He married Elinor Junkin in 1853, but she died a year later during childbirth. Jackson later married Mary Anna Morrison in 1857, and they had two daughters. Despite his stern attitude as a military leader, Jackson was a strong follower of the Presbyterian Church and organized Sunday school classes for black individuals. After his death, his body was buried in the Stonewell Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

Trivia

Upon hearing the news of Jackson’s amputation, General Robert E. Lee stated, “Jackson has lost his left arm; I have lost my right.” Jackson believed that one of his arms was longer than the other and often held his “longer” arm up to ease circulation. He was also known for his ability to fall asleep under any condition, even while eating or riding a horse.

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