Today's Birthdays: January 21
(Thomas Jonathan Jackson) 1824–1863, American Confederate General.
Born in Clarksburg, Va. (now W. Va.), graduated from West Point, 1846.
Like a Stone Wall
He served with distinction under Winfield Scott in the Mexican War and from 1851 to 1861 taught at the Virginia Military Institute. He resigned from the army in Feb., 1852. At the beginning of the Civil War, Jackson, practically unknown, was made a colonel of Virginia troops and sent to command at Harpers Ferry. After J. E. Johnston superseded him there in May, 1861, Jackson was given a brigade in Johnston's army and made a Confederate brigadier general. At the first battle of Bull Run, he and his brigade earned their sobriquet by standing (in the words of Gen. Barnard Bee) “like a stone wall.”
The Valley Campaign
Jackson was promoted to major general, and in November, Johnston assigned him to command in the Shenandoah valley. Jackson's attack on James Shields's division at Kernstown on March 23, 1862, was repulsed but forced the retention of Union troops in the valley. In April, Robert E. Lee suggested that Jackson fall upon Nathaniel P. Banks's force in the lower valley, hoping that Irvin McDowell's army would thereby be diverted from joining George McClellan before Richmond (see Peninsular campaign). Jackson's renowned Valley campaign resulted. He first defeated part of John C. Frémont's force at McDowell (c.25 mi/40 km W of Staunton) on May 8, 1862, and then, returning to the Shenandoah, routed Banks at Front Royal and Winchester (May 23–25) and drove him across the Potomac. The Federal administration, fearing that Jackson would now advance on Washington, sent Shields from McDowell's army to join Frémont, advancing from the west, in cutting off Jackson. Stonewall, however, retreated rapidly to the head of the valley and on June 8–9 defeated his pursuers at Cross Keys and Port Republic.
Seven Days Battles through Chancellorsville
With the diversion in the Shenandoah Valley a complete success, Jackson joined Lee in the Seven Days battles. After the brilliance of the Shenandoah campaign, his service in that week of fighting was disappointing. But he soon redeemed himself. The speedy turning movement executed by his “foot cavalry” against Pope late in Aug., 1862, at the battle of Cedar Mt. set the stage for the crushing victory at the second battle of Bull Run, and in the Antietam campaign he marched promptly to Lee's aid after he had captured the Harpers Ferry garrison.
When Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia after Antietam, he made Jackson commander of the 2d Corps, and Stonewall was promoted to lieutenant general. He ably commanded the Confederate right in the battle of Fredericksburg in December. In the battle of Chancellorsville, Lee and Jackson repeated the tactics of second Bull Run. Jackson's turning movement completely crumbled Hooker's right (May 2, 1863). Pressing on in the darkness, Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by the fire of his own men.
His death was a severe blow to the Southern cause. Jackson was a tactician of first rank and, though a strict disciplinarian, had the affection of his men. His devout Calvinism, fighting ability, and arresting personal quirks make him one of the most interesting figures of the war. He was Lee's ablest and most trusted lieutenant.
See biographies by G. F. R. Henderson (1898, new ed. 1961), Burke Davis (1954, repr. 1961), Lenoir Chambers (1959), R. B. Cook (4th ed. 1963), and J. M. Selby (1968); H. K. Douglas, I Rode with Stonewall (1940).
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