Today in History: January 21
He is one who, if you order him to hold a post, will never leave it alive to be occupied by an enemy.
Samuel McDowell Moore,
delegate to the Virginia Convention,
describing the military qualifications of Thomas Jackson, April 1861.
Stonewall Jackson, 1863
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Prints and Photographs Division
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (external link), one of Robert E. Lee's most outstanding generals in the Army of Northern Virginia, was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), on January 21, 1824.
Orphaned at a young age, Jackson spent much of his childhood moving between the homes of various family members. In 1842, he was awarded an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A commissioned officer during the Mexican War, he served as a second lieutenant of artillery, was promoted to first lieutenant, and later won brevets to captain and major.
In 1851, Jackson resigned from the U.S. Army to teach military tactics and natural philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. While there, the stern instructor, known to students as "Deacon Jackson," was considered eccentric. In December 1859, Jackson commanded the VMI cadet corps at the hanging of abolitionist John Brown.
When Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861, Jackson volunteered to serve his state and quickly organized a group of amateur soldiers into an effective army brigade. By July of that year, Jackson's men, fighting in the army of Joseph E. Johnston, moved to meet the federal invasion of Virginia at Bull Run. Here, Jackson earned the admiration of fellow soldiers for standing "like a stone wall" in the face of enemy fire. Jackson, in response, is reported to have said, "Let my men have the name, it belongs more to them than to me."
In 1862, Jackson fought with distinction at the Second Battle of Manassas, the siege of Harper's Ferry, the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. Wounded in May 1863 while pursuing Joseph Hooker at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Jackson died from pneumonia eight days later.
Panorama of the Seat of War [with Smoke Over the Manassas Battlefield].
lithograph by John Bachmann, 1861.
Civil War Maps
- Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, a topographical engineer in the Confederate Army, made detailed reconnaissance maps used by "Stonewall" Jackson. Search the Civil War Maps collection on Manassas, Bull Run, or Fredericksburg for maps related to battles in which Stonewall Jackson fought.
- Also see the section on the Civil War Maps of Jedediah Hotchkiss in the Memory section of the online exhibition American Treasures of the Library of Congress.
- Search on Stonewall Jackson in the sheet music collection America Singing to see a variety of Civil War song sheets which mention the General, including "Stonewall Jackson's Way" which proclaimed:
Ah! wife, sew on, pray on, hope on!
Thy life shall not be all forlorn.
The foe had better ne'er been born,
That get's in "Stonewall's way."
Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson Statue,
Theodor Horydczak, photographer,
circa 1920-circa 1950.
Washington as It Was: Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959
- Learn more about the Civil War. Search the Today in History Archive on the term Civil War to view features such as the following on:
- General Lee's evacuation of Richmond and his surrender to Grant;
- Military engagements at Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Nashville, and Antietam;
- Other key figures from the Civil War era such as Jefferson Davis and Mary Todd Lincoln;
- Other events related to the Civil War, including Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the execution of Henry Wirz, commander of the Andersonville Prison.
- First Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920 reveals the culture of the American South, from the viewpoint of Southerners, during and after the Civil War. Search on Stonewall Jackson for more information about him.
…the old [Confederate] "grayback"…after the surrender, went to the [Union] Provost Marshal…to be paroled. After taking all the oaths required of him, he asked the Provost if he wasn't all right. "Yes," said the Captain, "you are." "Good a Union man as anybody, ain't I." "Yes," replied the Captain, "you are in the Union now as a loyal citizen, and can go ahead all right." "Well, then," said the old sinner; "didn't 'Stonewall' use to give us h--l in the Valley."
How A One-Legged Rebel Lives: Reminiscences of the Civil War: The Story of the Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson (external link),
by John S. Robson,
First Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920