Stonewall Jackson

Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, one of Robert E. Lee’s generals in the Confederate 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.

Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, C.S.A. Photo of painting by Elder, n.d. Prints & Photographs Division
Portrait of Pvt. John J. Rhodes, Company K, 5th Virginia Regiment, C.S.A. (Stonewall Brigade). Between 1861 and 1865. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division

In 1851, Jackson resigned from the U.S. Army to teach military tactics and natural philosophy at the Virginia Military InstituteExternal 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.”

From 1862 to 1863, Jackson fought 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.

Panorama of the Seat of War: bird’s eye view of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. New York: John Bachmann, publisher, 1861. Civil War Maps. Geography & Map Division
Harper’s Ferry, W.Va. Ruins of Arsenal. Silas A. Holmes & David B. Woodbury, photographers, October 1862. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division

…the old [Confederate] “grayback”…after the surrender, went to the [Union] Provost Marshal…to be paroled. After taking all the oaths required of him, he asked the Provost if he wasn’t all right. “Yes,” said the Captain, “you are.” “Good a Union man as anybody, ain’t I.” “Yes,” replied the Captain, “you are in the Union now as a loyal citizen, and can go ahead all right.” “Well, then,” said the old sinner; “didn’t ‘Stonewall’ use to give us h–l in the Valley.”

How A One-Legged Rebel Lives: Reminiscences of the Civil War: The Story of the Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson…External, by John S. Robson. Durham, N.C.: The Educator Co. Printers & Binders, 1898. p48. First Person Narratives of the American SouthExternal. University Library at University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill

Learn More

  • Search the Civil War Maps Collection on Manassas, Bull Run, or Fredericksburg for maps related to battles in which Stonewall Jackson fought. See also the Hotchkiss Map Collection which contains cartographic items made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, a topographical engineer in the Confederate Army. In particular, he made detailed reconnaissance maps of the Shenandoah Valley used by both “Stonewall” Jackson and General Robert E. Lee for their combat planning and strategy.
  • A brief biography of Stonewall Jackson is included in the online exhibition The Civil War in America.
  • Learn more about the Civil War. Search Today in History using the term Civil War to view features such as:
    • General Lee’s evacuation of Richmond and his surrender to Grant
    • Military engagements at Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Nashville, and Antietam
    • Other key figures from the Civil War era such as Jefferson Davis and Mary Todd Lincoln
    • Other events related to the Civil War, including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the execution of Henry Wirz, commander of the Andersonville Prison.
  • First Person Narratives of the American SouthExternal reveals the culture of the American South, from the viewpoint of Southerners, during and after the Civil War. Search on Stonewall Jackson for more information about him.