Stonewall Jackson Biography ID 74

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, 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.

Biography courtesy of the Library of Congress

Copyright 2021 Digital History