Did you Ever Wonder...

How did Confederate General Thomas Jonathan Jackson acquire the nickname 'Stonewall'?

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Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan Jackson (21 January 1824 - 10 May 1863) is considered the best-known Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee and is also widely recognized by military historians as one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. history. Although he was hoping that his home state of Virginia would remain in the Union, it did not and seceded in April 1861. Showing his loyalty to his state, he supported the Confederacy and at the start of the Civil War was appointed a colonel of Virginia militia. By the beginning of July 1861, he had now been promoted to brigadier general and commanded a brigade in the Shenandoah Valley. While Jackson had been given several nicknames throughout his military career - including 'Old Jack', 'Old Blue Light' and 'Tom Fool' - the one that he is most famous for is 'Stonewall'. He acquired his trademark nickname on 21 July 1861 at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as Manassas) when he rushed his troops forward to close a gap in the line against a determined Union attack. Upon observing Jackson, Brigadier General Bernard Bee - one of his fellow generals who had been engaged earlier in the battle - reportedly called out to his men to inspire them: "Look, men! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer!" There are other popular versions of General Bee's exclamation as well as one put forward by Jackson's surgeon that was published in local newspapers and other publications but we will never know the exact words that were said.

Jackson was commissioned a major general in October 1861 and in 1862 he was placed in command of the Confederate Second Corps. Oddly enough, while Jackson was accidentally wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville on 2 May 1863 - which required the amputation of his left arm - he did not die from his war injury. According to Dr. Hunter McGuire, Jackson's physician, he was diagnosed as having died of pneumonia eight later later at the age of 39. Jackson was buried on 15 May 1863 in the Lexington Presbyterian Cemetery, which is now called the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, in Lexington, Virginia. Shown in the photograph is a bronze statue of General Jackson where he and his family are buried beneath. The memorial was sculpted by Edward V. Valentine (12 November 1838 - 19 October 1930) who is considered one of the most renowned sculptors of the Southern United States during the latter half of the 19th century. The statue was dedicated on 21 July 1895, the anniversary date of the First Battle of Bull Run.

On this day, 10 May 2022, we commemorate the 159th anniversary of the death of Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson.

André M. Levesque

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