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Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

Thomas Jonathan Jackson From The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans: Volume VI, pages 28-33. [For readability, paragraph delimiters were added by Dan.]

JACKSON, Thomas Jonathan, soldier, was born in Clarksburg, Va., probably Jan. 2l, 1824; son of Jonathan and Julia Beckwith (Neale) Jackson; grandson of Edward and (Hadden) Jackson and of Thomas and Margaret (Winn) Neale, and great grandson of John and Elizabeth (Cummins) Jackson, both natives of England, who came to America in 1748 on the same ship, and were married in Calvert county, Md., in 1750. They settled first in that part of western Virginia which became Moorfields, Hardy county, and subsequently crossed the Alleghany ridge and settled on the Buckhannon river, the place becoming known first as Jackson's Fort, and subsequently Buckhannon. With his sons George and Edward, he took part in the American Revolution on the patriot side. Edward Jackson was also a surveyor, and acquired a large estate.

Jonathan Jackson was a lawyer, having studied under his cousin, John George Jackson. He died a [p.29] bankrupt in 1827, and his widow married Capt. Blake B. Woodson, also a lawyer, about 1830. Her second husband was not able to support a large family, and Thomas Jonathan and his sister Laura were taken by their aunt, Mrs. White, and subsequently by their step-grandmother the second wife of Edward Jackson, who lived on the Jackson estate in Lewis county. They remained with her till her death, and then with her son, their half-uncle, Cummins Jackson, a bachelor, mill-owner and farmer, who was fond of horses and fox-hunting.

Thomas Jonathan was sent to school when not training horses or riding them on the turf, and he was made a constable of Lewis county when only eighteen years old. In 1842 he was appointed a cadet to the U.S. Military academy, and passed the examination by favor, which made his freshman year at West Point especially trying to a Virginia boy with but little school training, who had lived in the woods and was unaccustomed to restraint.

His classmates included A. P. Hill, G. E. Pickett, D. H. Maury, D. R. Jones, W. D. Smith, C. M. Wilcox, subsequently of the Confederate army; and G. B. McClellan, J. G. Foster, J. L. Reno, George Stoneman, D. N. Couch, John Gibbon, of the Federal army. He was graduated June 30, 1846; received the brevet rank of second lieutenant of artillery; was assigned to Capt. J. B. Magruder's battery in Col. Francis Taylor's 1st U.S. artillery, and was ordered to Mexico by way of New Orleans, La.

He served in all the battles in General Scott's victorious march from Vera Cruz, March 9, 1847, to the Mexican capital, Sept. 14, 1847. He was made 2d lieutenant, and during the battle of Churubusco, 1st lieutenant, and for his action in this battle Captain Magruder commended him "to the major-general's favorable consideration," and he received the brevet rank of captain. At the storming of Chapultepec he was for a time in command of the battery, and General Scott made honorable mention of Lieutenant Jackson in his official report, and Generals Pillow and Worth commended his conduct in almost extravagant terms. He left the City of Mexico in the summer of 1848, and as Major Jackson, he was stationed with his regiment at Fort Hamilton, N.Y., 1848-50.

On Sunday, April 29, 1849, he was baptized in St. John's Protestant Episcopal church, Fort Hamilton, N.Y., by the Rev. Mr. Parks, Colonels Taylor and Dimick being his sponsors, the church record giving his name as "Thomas Jefferson Jackson."

He was stationed at Fort Meade, Tampa Bay, Fla., 1850-51, and on March 27, 1851, he accepted the professorship of natural and experimental philosophy and artillery tactics in the Virginia Military institute, Lexington, called the "West Point of the South."

On Nov. 22, 1851, he connected himself with the Presbyterian church by a public profession of his faith, and he became a deacon in the church, but his religious views allowed him to commune, if more convenient, with the church in which he was baptized.

He was married, Aug. 4, 1853, to Elinor, daughter of the Rev. Dr. George Junkin, president of Washington college, who died in October, 1854, in giving birth to a child, which also died.

In 1856 he made a tour of Europe, He was married a second time, July 16, 1857, by the Rev. Dr. Drury Lacy, to Mary Anna, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, of Lincoln county, N.C., the first president of Davidson college, N.C., and his wife, Mary, daughter of Gen. Joseph Graham and sister of the Hon. William A. Graham, governor of North Carolina.

Jackson accompanied the cadets to Charlestown, Va., when called out by the governor to preserve the peace at the execution of John Brown, Dec. 2, 1859. The summer of 1860 he spent with his wife at Northampton, Mass. In 1860-61 he opposed secession until April 17, 1861, when the Virginia convention voted conditionally to secede.

He proposed a concerted movement of all Christians in prayer for the preservation of peace, but when Governor Letcher notified the superintendent of the institution that he should need the services of the more advanced classes of the cadets as drill-masters, he prepared them for immediate military service. On Sunday morning, April 21, 1861, he received his orders, and assumed command of the cadets, marching with them to Staunton, where they took the cars for Richmond.

On April 27, 1861, he was commissioned as colonel of Virginia volunteers and ordered to take command at Harper's Ferry. When the Confederate government assumed the military control of the state he was superseded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and the Virginia regiments stationed at the various posts were organized as the 1st Virginia brigade and Colonel Jackson was appointed commander. This was afterward known as the "Stonewall Brigade."

On June 16, 1861, General Johnston evacuated Harper's Ferry, and Jackson's brigade had its first engagement, July 2, 1861, at Falling Waters, near Dranesville, Va. He reported the affair to General Johnston, and received from General Lee promotion to the rank of [p.30] brigadier-general in the Provisional army of the Confederate States, July 3, 1861. On July 18, 1861, he received orders to reinforce the army of General Beauregard, engaged in repelling a Federal attack at Manassas. He reached the field on July 19, and on July 21, to quote his own words in a letter to his wife, he "fought a great battle and gained a great victory, for which all the glory is due to God alone." In this battle he was wounded in the finger and his horse was shot. It was in this fight that General Bee, witnessing the conduct of Jackson and his brigade at a moment when defeat stared the Confederate army in the face, cried out to his own wavering command, "Look at Jackson -- there he stands like a stone wall; rally behind the Virginians;" and in that baptism of fire "Stonewall" Jackson and the "Stonewall" brigade received the names they were henceforth to bear, and Bee's inspiring order turned the tide of battle in favor of the Confederates.

On Nov. 4, 1861, he received promotion to the rank of major-general, with orders to assume command of the Valley district, and in parting with his old brigade he said: "In the Army of the Shenandoah you were the first brigade; in the Army of the Potomac you were the first brigade; in the second corps of the army you were the first brigade; you are the first brigade in the affections of your general, and I hope by your future deeds and bearing that you will be handed down to posterity as the first brigade in this, our second war of independence. Farewell."

He made the headquarters of the Army of the Valley at Winchester, the two other armies being commanded by Generals Beauregard and Holmes, and the three made up the Department of Northern Virginia, under command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. His next movement was the occupation of Romney by General Loring, and when the war department ordered Loring's command back to Winchester, General Jackson complied with the order but forwarded his conditional resignation, Jan. 31, 1862, requesting to be ordered to report for duty to the superintendent of the Virginia Military institute at Lexington, or, in case the application should not be granted, that the President should accept his resignation from the army. General Johnston, in forwarding the communication, Feb. 7, 1862, endorsed it, "I don't know how the loss of this officer can be supplied." Protests from all quarters against his resignation, and especially one from Governor Letcher, in which he conveyed an assurance he had received from the government at Richmond that it did not intend to interfere with Jackson's military plans, caused that officer to yield with soldierly obedience and Governor Letcher was instructed to withdraw the resignation.

After Loring's evacuation of Romney the Federal troops took possession, and General Jackson was left at Winchester with not over 4000 effective men, exclusive of militia, and he asked for 9000 men for the immediate defence of the place, threatened by both Banks and Launder. As Johnston was preparing to retreat before McClellan's advance he could furnish no troops, and gave orders to Jackson to watch the advance closely and do what he could to impede it. Jackson proposed to a council of his chief officers to make a night attack on Banks, which was not approved, and on March 11, 1862, he reluctantly withdrew his army from the town and retreated to Woodstock and Mount Jackson, reaching Strasburg on the 22d in the wake of Shields's army, which had been ordered to evacuate the place and to intrench at Manassas in order to guard the approach to Washington. This movement led to Jackson's attack at Kernstown on Sunday, March 23, 1862, when, after three hours' stubborn fighting against more than double his number, he was compelled to retreat. He received the thanks of congress for fighting this battle and its effect on the fortune of the Confederate army, by changing the plans of the Federal officers, was acknowledged.

On April 28, 1862, he asked General Lee for 20,000 men, with which reinforcement he proposed to attack General Banks, but he could be promised only the division of 6000 men of General Ewell, near Gordonsville, and the brigade of Gen. Edward Johnson, comprising 3500 men, seven miles west of Staunton, and with this slight reinforcement he fought the battle of McDowell, May 8, 1862, which compelled the Federal army to retreat to Franklin, where it formed a junction with Fremont. Jackson followed, and there executed his celebrated flank movement by which be withdrew his entire force from in front of Fremont's army, and after surprising Gen. J. L. Kenly at Front Royal, obliging him to flee to Winchester, he reached Winchester by daylight, May 25, 1862, to find the Federal lines drawn across the approaches to the place. He ordered a vigorous attack, and after a brave resistance, the Federal lines gave way and Banks retreated through the town, closely pursued by Jackson and Ashby for several miles, when, failing to receive help from the cavalry, who had delayed their advance to pillage the town, Ashby was obliged to give up the pursuit, and Banks escaped across the Potomac. On Jackson's return from the pursuit he found over 3000 prisoners and $300,000 worth of stores, and the whole populace, with the victorious army, made Monday, May 26, the day after the engagement, a day of thanksgiving, according to General Jackson's custom. On the strength of this victory General Jackson again asked for [p.31] reinforcements that he might march against Washington with an army of 40,000, but as all the available Confederate troops were needed for the defence of the Confederate capital, he was directed to carry out his plan as far as practicable with his army of 15,000 effective men, and he marched to Harper's Ferry and watched the approach of Shields from the west toward Front Royal; while McDowell and Fremont marched from opposite directions toward Strasburg, and the combined forces of Banks and Saxton, now recovered from their retreat, were ready to recross the Potomac and close in on his retreat. In view of this situation he withdrew to Strasburg, carrying his prisoners and stores.

He had made thirty-five miles in a single day and was now confronted on either side by McDowell and Fremont. He continued his retreat, and on Sunday night had marched his heavily laden train, prisoners and entire army, nearly sixty miles, utterly bewildering his opponents, and further to delay pursuit, he burned the bridges behind him.

On Monday, June 2, he reached Mount Jackson, and on June 3, Newmarket, where Gen. Turner Ashby, with all the cavalry, was constituted a rear guard to keep off Fremont's advance. On the 5th Jackson's entire force reached Harrisonburg. He sent his sick and wounded to Staunton, and on June 6, General Ashby was killed in a cavalry fight with Fremont's advance guard near Port Republic.

Jackson fought the battle of Cross Keys, Sunday, June 8, 1862, and that of Port Republic, June 9, and the Federal forces were put to rout and followed for several miles by the victorious Confederates. June 14, 1862, was observed in Jackson's camp at Port Republic as a day of thanksgiving. This closed the Valley campaign of 1862, and Jackson was ordered to Richmond to assist in repelling McClellan's determined advance.

On June 25, he reached Ashland, and after vexatious delays by reason of burned bridges, he reached the line of battle at Mechanicsville late in the afternoon of the 26th, where he reinforced Gen. A. P. Hill's division, which opened the seven days' battles around Richmond. On June 27 he gained the rear of the Federal artillery and forced the retreat of McClellan's army down the Chickahominy toward Cold Harbor, routing it at every point until it escaped across the Chickahominy, and made the James its base. Then came the battle of White Oak Swamp, June 30, which was indecisive, but on July 1, the Federal forces withdrew to Malvern Hill.

In the battle that followed Jackson ably supported Gen. D. H. Hill, and the next morning McClellan was gone from their front and found refuge under the protection of the Federal gunboats on the river. This ended the seven days' battles around Richmond.

On July 19, 1862, Jackson's army, ordered again to the valley, reached Gordonsville ready to cope with the army of General Pope, encamped at Culpeper Court House. On Aug. 9, 1862, the advance guards of the opposing forces met at Cedar Run, and in the afternoon, after a general engagement along the entire line, when apparently overpowered by the superior numbers of the Federal army, Jackson called up the reserves, drew his own sword, the first time in the war, and pressing forward shouted: "Rally, brave men, and press forward! Your general will lead you! Jackson will lead you! Follow me!" and obeying, the faltering line rallied, and swept the Federals from the field. It was in this battle that the commander of the Stonewall brigade, Gen. C. S. Winder, was killed. On August 14, a thanksgiving service was ordered for the victory of Cedar Run.

On August 13, General Lee began his march from Richmond to Gordonsville, and on the 17th McClellan evacuated the Peninsula and removed his troops to the Potomac. On the 15th Jackson left Gordonsville and encamped along the Orange railroad at the base of Clark's mountain, where Lee joined him, and on the 18th Jackson urged an immediate attack on the Federal lines and by a flank movement proposed to cut off the retreat to Washington.

On August 19, Pope withdrew so as to place the Rappahannock between the two armies, and on the 20th the entire Confederate army was in motion and Jackson was ordered to cross the river high up, make a forced march to Manassas and gain the rear of Pope's army, while other divisions were sent to Pope's front and the opposing armies marched on either side of the river, conducting a constant artillery duel as they proceeded. Meantime Jackson had passed around Pope to the westward and his corps was halted at Bristow Station between the Federal army and Washington, entirely cut off from the rest of the Confederate army. The same night he captured Pope's stores at Manassas Junction, where he found everything his army so badly needed.

On the 27th the Federals commenced the battle, and on the 28th Jackson's entire command of 18,000 men was concentrated north of the Warrenton turnpike, the left wing resting on Bull Run. The battle was fought between sunset and nine P.M., when the Federal forces retired under cover of the darkness. On the morning of the 29th Jackson's right flank was attacked by a heavy cannonade which was promptly replied to and a general engagement threatened, with the army of Jackson at great disadvantage in point of numbers and position. Longstreet soon came to their relief and the battle continued through the day till darkness closed the contest and each army rested on its arms.

On the morning of the [p.32] 30th General Lee assumed command, while Jackson had the right wing and Longstreet the left. The battle was delayed by the Federals until late in the afternoon and continued till 10 P.M., the Federals retreating to the heights of Centerville. On September 1, Jackson was ordered to turn their position, and if possible compel them to retreat without an engagement, and on perceiving the movement the Federals retired to Fairfax Court House, where they found Jackson ready to attack them. The engagement at Ox Hill then resulted and the Federal troops once more retired toward Washington and took refuge in the strong fortifications around the city. Lee did not follow up his advantage, but soon after determined on his invasion of the northern states.

Jackson's command crossed the Potomac at White's Ford, Sept. 5, 1862; on the 6th entered Frederick, Md., and on the 10th he marched through Middletown, Boonsboro and Williamsport en route to Harper's Ferry. On the 12th Jackson's army reached Martinsburg, taking position before Harper's Ferry on Sept. 13, 1862, and planted battalions on the heights surrounding the city on which they opened a vigorous cannonade. On the 15th the place surrendered, and 11,000 men, 60 pieces of artillery, 13,000 stands of small arms, and a vast quantity of stores were in the possession of the victorious Confederates. Jackson did not wait to arrange the details of the surrender, leaving that duty to Gen. A. P. Hill, and he hastened with his army to Sharpsburg to join General Lee in order to meet the advance of McClellan's army.

Jackson reached the field of battle September 16, and the next day fought one of the most desperate engagements of the war, where his masterly provision for retreat enabled the entire Confederate force to re-cross the Potomac, and he was the last to retire after seeing every man and gun safely on Virginia soil. On Oct. 11, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.

General Lee concentrated his whole force on the Rappahannock, fearing for the safety of Richmond, and General Jackson was ordered from Winchester to his support, pending a threatened attack upon Fredericksburg, which city they entered, Dec. 12, 1862, and on the 13th General Jackson, in his lieutenant-general's uniform, rode the line of his army to the summit of a hill where General Lee was watching the artillery fire from the Federal line which led to a general engagement, lasting all day.

On Sunday, December 14, the Federals failed to advance, and on the 15th, with a flag of truce, they requested permission to bury their dead and care for their wounded, and under the cover of the night they retired their entire army to the other side of the river.

In the battle of Fredericksburg, Burnside's loss was 12,000 killed and wounded and about 1000 prisoners, and Lee's loss was 4200 killed and wounded, of which number 2900 were of Jackson's corps. This battle ended the campaign of 1862.

On April 20, 1863, he [Jackson] was visited in camp at Guiney's Station, Va., by his wife and daughter Julia, born Nov. 23, 1862, and on April 23 they had the child baptized by his chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Lacy, General Lee being present.

On April 29, 1863, upon being informed of General Hooker's advance, he placed his corps under arms and marched toward Chancellorsville to meet the enemy, and on the morning of May 1 he began his masterly flank movement, which the Federals interpreted to be a retreat toward Richmond, but which brought his corps six miles west of Chancellorsville and placed Hooker's army between him and the army of General Lee. He formed his corps in three parallel lines, and silently and in the darkness they made their way through the wilderness till they gained the Federal pickets, when he opened a volley from his line of battle, and pressing on, crushed Howard's corps to a hopeless rout. They charged the Federal works with a yell and pursued the disheartened 11th corps toward Chancellorsville over a field strewn with arms, knapsacks and accoutrements of the fugitives, and in the darkness, companies, regiments and brigades were undistinguishable and moved forward in a confused mass. The first and second lines of battle became hopelessly mixed, and Rodes sent to Jackson to send forward the third line (A. P. Hill's division) that the others could be reformed. In the execution of this movement a lull in the storm of battle occurred, and when Jackson paused in his pursuit Hooker tried to stop his demoralized troops and reform a line of battle. In the midst of this confusion, in which Jackson was constantly calling on his men to restore order and "get into line," be found that Hooker was advancing with fresh troops, being pressed in front by Lee. At this point Hooker turned upon Jackson in his rear, hoping to recapture the lost barricade. Jackson, with a part of his staff, advanced in the direction of the advancing Federal troops, when a volley from his right front arrested them, the musket balls wounding several of their horses. On being told not to expose himself, he replied, "There is no danger -- the enemy is routed. Go back and tell Hill to press on."

In order to screen himself from the flying bullets, he rode with his staff into the thicket to the left and rear and soon came in front of his own line of battle. His men, mistaking the officers for the enemy, opened fire, and from this volley Jackson received his mortal wounds, while several of his escort were killed or wounded. He was helped from "Little Sorrel" by Captain Wilbourne, his signal officer, and Lieutenant Morrison ran in the [p.33] direction of the firing line calling upon them to stop firing, which effected, he returned to the side of his wounded chief, where he found Captain Wilbourne and Mr. Winn. Gen. A. P. Hill soon came up and, dismounting, he bent over the officer and asked: "General, are you much hurt?" and received the reply, "Yes, general, I think I am; and all my wounds were from my own men. I believe my arm is broken; it gives me severe pain."

He received temporary surgical aid from Dr. Barr, who happened to be near at hand. Finding the position they occupied dangerous, as shot and shell fell on every side, his attendants helped him to walk to the highway, when a Federal battery was unlimbered and planted so as to sweep the spot, and he was protected by the bodies of his escort while hurrying him to the rear.

Meeting General Pender, of North Carolina, he said: "You must hold your ground, General Pender, you must hold your ground, sir," the last order given by Stonewall Jackson. Growing faint by the exertions to get out of the firing line, he was placed on a litter and in struggling through the thicket his face was scratched and his clothing torn and once he fell from the litter, a bearer being shot in the arm. He was carried in an ambulance to the hospital and on Sunday morning he had sufficiently rested to undergo an examination by Surgeons McGuire, Black, Walls and Coleman.

In the afternoon, news of the disaster that was meeting the Confederate army, and the incapacity of General Hill from his wounds, was brought to him by General Pendleton, who also had a message from Stuart to his chief, asking what to do. Jackson revived, asked several questions in rapid succession and tried to collect his thoughts, but replied sadly: "I don't know, I can't tell; say to General Stuart he must do what he thinks best." Soon after he slept for several hours and the next day was free from pain and asked that his wife be sent for.

On receipt of a letter from General Lee expressing himself pained to learn of his wounds and adding: "Could I have directed events I should have chosen for the good of the country to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy," Jackson said, "General Lee should give the praise to God."

He was removed to Mr. Chandler's house at Guiney's Station, Tuesday. His wife and child arrived on Thursday. His last words, apparently to his wife, were "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."

Of his fidelity to the cause that he espoused it is said: "From the time he entered the army at the beginning of the war he never asked or received a furlough, was never absent from duty for a single day, whether sick or well, and never slept one night outside the lines of his command."

The Louisiana division of the Army of Northern Virginia erected an imposing statue to his memory in Metairie cemetery, New Orleans, La., in 1881. One figure on the soldier's monument at Augusta, Ga., represents General Jackson; a statue by J. H. Foley, R. A., executed in London, was erected in Richmond, Va., and unveiled, Oct. 26, 1876: "England's Tribute to Virginia Valor"; and a bronze statue of heroic size executed by Edward V. Valentine was placed over the dust of the hero in the cemetery in Lexington, Va. It was unveiled, July 21, 1891, the thirtieth anniversary of the first battle of Manassas. The granite pedestal bears the words "Stonewall Jackson, 1824-1863."

In the selection of names for a place in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans made in October, 1900, his was one of the twenty names in "Class N, Soldiers and Sailors," and received twenty-three votes, the same number received by Decatur and Sheridan and exceeded only by the votes given Grant, Farragut and Lee who secured places in the class, and by Greene, Perry and Thomas, who received twenty-nine, twenty-six and twenty-four votes respectively. See Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by his widow, Mary Anna Jackson (1895).

He died at Guiney's Station, Va., May 10, 1863.

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