As long as people remain interested in the Civil War, Jackson will remain one of the most interesting figures in American history. And for good reason. His actions during America’s most tragic war are studied by tactical commanders all over the world.
Orphaned by the age of seven, Jackson eventually graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, class of 1846. He fought in the Mexican War and later accepted a teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.
When the Civil War erupted, he took command of a group of recruits from the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. These soldiers became known as the famous “Stonewall Brigade.”
Jackson earned his nickname at the first major battle of the Civil War at First Bull Run. As his men reinforced the Confederate line amidst heavy fire, a general yelled out something along the lines of, “There is Jackson standing like a stonewall!”
His place in American military history was etched during his famous Valley Campaign of 1862, in which his 17,000 men engaged three Union armies, effectively disrupting the Union offensive against Richmond.
And of course, there is Chancellorsville. The battle represents Jackson’s finest and final moments. Lee divided his forces and entrusted Jackson to flank the Union right, which he accomplished to the tune of 4,000 Union prisoners.
That night, as Jackson was scouting his position, his troops failed to recognize him as one of their own and fired in his direction. Jackson was hit, but the wound was not mortal. His left arm was amputated. Upon hearing the news, Lee commented on Jackson’s importance, “He has lost his left arm; I have lost my right.”
While the 39 year old general was recovering from his wounds, he contracted pneumonia. As fever ravaged his body, those around him heard him say, “Let us cross over the river and rest in the shade of the trees.”
Stonewall Jackson died 144 years ago today.