Statue of Stonewall Jackson
Backstory and Context
Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson was born January 21st 1824 in Clarksburg, Virginia (West Virginia today). Largely self-educated until he was accepted to West Point, Jackson possessed an advanced understanding of mathematics as well as military tactics. Following his graduation from West Point, Jackson served in the Mexican American War as a 2nd Lieutenant for the 1st Artillery. Jackson participated in the siege of Veracruz and the Battle of Mexico City. During the war, he Robert E. Lee and many other future Confederate officers.
After the Mexican American War Jackson, retired from the army and took a teaching position at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) where he taught philosophy classes and courses on artillery tactics. In 1853 he married Elinor Junkin, but she passed away the following year as she gave birth to a stillborn son. Jackson later married Mary Morrison and the couple experienced the anguish of losing a second child when their daughter passed away a month after her birth. Jackson rejoined the military in 1859 and was one of the leading officers who responded to John Brown’s attempted raid at Harper's Ferry.
When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Jackson left the federal army and joined the Confederacy. He was appointed to the rank of colonel and moved to Harpers Ferry. Early in the conflict, Jackson was promoted to brigadier general. Jackson’s actions at the Battle of Bull Run-the first major battle of the Civil War-led to his promotion. While providing reinforcements to Confederate troops, Jackson ordered his men to fill a gap in the Confederate's main defensive line. In response, General Barnard Bee famously remarked “There is Jackson standing like a stonewall.” From that moment, Jackson became revered among Southerners and known as "Stonewall Jackson." Embracing the growing legend of their leader, Jackson's troops referred to themselves as the "Stonewall Brigade."
After ending his attempted offensive into Pennsylvania following the Battle of Antietam, General Robert E. Lee promoted Jackson to Lieutenant General. Jackson took charge of Lee's second corps and led these men to victory at the battle of Fredericksburg. In May 1863, Jackson’s men attacked Union troops from behind at the Battle of Chancellorsville and forced them to retreat due to heavy losses. On May 2nd 1863, Jackson was reviewing his position at night when he was shot by a Confederate soldier who mistook him for a possible Union picket. On May 10th, Jackson the injured reportedly said “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of trees.” These would be his last words as he died of his wounds.