A statue of a mounted General Stonewall Jackson stands on the courthouse square at Clarksburg, West Virginia. The statue was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and sculpted by New York sculptor Charles Keck. A duplicate of the statue was located in a park in Charlottesville, Virginia until its removal owing to the racial worldview of Confederate leaders and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. At the time this monument was created, UDC members hoped to erect monuments and shape the curriculum of area schools to vindicate the antebellum South. Key to this message was suggesting that slavery was a benign institution that civilized enslaved persons.
Thomas Jonathan Stonewall Jackson was born on January 21, 1824 and died May 10, 1863. He was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and the best-known Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. Jackson began his United States Army career as a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment and was sent to fight in the Mexican–American War from 1846 to 1848. He served at the Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Contreras, Chapultepec, and Mexico City, eventually earning two brevet promotions, and the regular army rank of first lieutenant. It was in Mexico that Thomas Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.
During the assault on Chapultepec Castle on September 13, 1847, he refused what he felt was a bad order to withdraw his troops. Confronted by his superior, he explained his rationale, claiming withdrawal was more hazardous than continuing his overmatched artillery duel. His judgment proved correct, and a relieving brigade was able to exploit the advantage Jackson had broached. In contrast to this display of strength of character, he obeyed what he also felt was a bad order when he raked a civilian throng with artillery fire after the Mexican authorities failed to surrender Mexico City at the hour demanded by the U.S. forces. The former episode, and later aggressive action against the retreating Mexican army, earned him field promotion to the brevet rank of major.
After the war, Jackson was briefly assigned to forts in New York, and then to Florida during the Second Interbellum of the Seminole Wars, during which the Americans were attempting to force the remaining Seminoles to move West. He was stationed briefly at Fort Casey before being named second-in-command at Fort Meade, a small fort about thirty miles south of Tampa. His commanding officer was Major William H. French. Jackson and French disagreed often, and filed numerous complaints against each other. Jackson stayed in Florida less than a year.
In the spring of 1851 Jackson accepted a newly created teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in Lexington, Virginia. He became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Instructor of Artillery. Parts of Jackson's curriculum are still taught at VMI, regarded as timeless military essentials: discipline, mobility, assessing the enemy's strength and intentions while attempting to conceal your own, and the efficiency of artillery combined with an infantry assault.
When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861 after the attack on Fort Sumter, Jackson followed it and joined the Confederate Army. He distinguished himself commanding a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run the following month, providing crucial reinforcements and beating back a fierce Union assault. It was there that Barnard Elliott Bee Jr., allegedly for Jackson's courage and tenacity, compared him to a stone wall, which became his enduring nickname. Jackson played a prominent role in nearly all military engagements in the Eastern Theater of the war until his death and played an important part in winning many significant battles.
Unfortunately, during the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, General Lee divided his troops sending Stonewall Jackson's entire corps on a flanking march that routed the Union Forces. However, while performing a personal reconnaissance in advance of his line, Jackson was wounded by fire after dark from his own men. Later, during the week Jackson died of complications from pneumonia on May 10, 1863, eight days after he was shot.