Stonewall Jackson

We have talked about General William Tecumseh Sherman who was the number two general in the Union armies next to General Grant. Now I will give you an account of General Lee’s number two man on the Confederate side. Who was the southern general who is ranked next to Lee? “Stonewall” Jackson.
Thomas J. Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia, which is now in West Virginia. He graduated from West Point in 1846 and served in Florida as a first lieutenant of artillery at Fort Meade on the Florida west coast, fighting the Seminole Indians. He was promoted to major in the Mexican War and later became Professor of Artillery Tactics at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
When the Civil War began, he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. He had resigned from the United States Army several years before. It was at the first battle of the War Between the States that General Jackson got his famous nickname of “Stonewall.” Can you tell me the name of this battle that was fought just south of Washington in northern Virginia? There are two names—Bull Run or Manassas.
During the early part of the battle, the Union armies appeared to be driving the Confederate Army from the field, but General Jackson and his Virginia Brigade stood its ground. General Beauregard, the Confederate commander, brought up reinforcements and the tide of battled turned. A South Carolinian, General Bee, rallied his disorganized troops by shouting, “Look at Jackson. There he stands like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians.” The steadfast stand of Jackson and the arrival of reinforcements gave the Confederacy the victory. The Union army retreated in what became a rout that did not stop until the panic-stricken soldiers reached Washington.
For his part in this dramatic battle, Stonewall Jackson was promoted to major general and given command of an army of 17,000 men that was stationed in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There Jackson carried out one of the most brilliant military campaigns ever recorded in history. With his army of 17,000, Jackson faced three separate armies under generals Banks, Fremont, and Shields with a total of 50,000 men.
In a very short period of time, Jackson had marched 676 miles, fought five hard battles and defeated all three Union armies. He out-maneuvered them and hit them one at a time. He captured thousands of prisoners and a tremendous store of war supplies. He completely wrecked the Union war plans and struck terror throughout the North.
Jackson was not a very impressive figure. He wore an old faded gray uniform, discolored with the smoke and dust of battlefields. He had a long, lanky figure, a strange shuffling walk, and he wore an old cadet cap pulled down over his cold, blue eyes. He rode an old reddish brown horse named “Sorrel,” and he had a peculiar slouch in the saddle that gave him a rather ridiculous look. At first, there were many jests and wisecracks about the ungainly Jackson. But after the Valley campaign, he became the idol of the South. When he marched his army through towns and villages, people turned out en masse to see him and cheer him as he passed by.
Jackson joined with Lee, and together they drove the Union armies almost entirely out of Virginia. Then they invaded the North for the first time. After the Battle of Antietam, the Confederate Army retreated into Virginia. Soon followed the crucial battle at Chancellorsville, Virginia, where Jackson and his troops made a forced march across the battle front and struck the Union Army on the right flank and won a great victory. But it was a costly victory for the Confederate side, because Jackson was critically wounded by his own men, who mistook the general and his staff for a Union cavalry patrol. Three days later the great “Stonewall” Jackson was dead, and Lee had lost his strong right arm.
The South never recovered from this shock of Jackson’s death, and some historians say that this was the turning point of the war. Others have noted that “although Robert E. Lee was a great general, he never lost a battle with Jackson and never won a battle without him.”
It is an unusual fact that General Lee and General Jackson, the greatest generals of the Confederacy, are both buried in the small town of Lexington, Virginia. Lee’s tomb is in the Robert E. Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University. It is fitting that General Jackson’s grave is located in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley he loved so much and for which he fought so bravely in his remarkable Valley Campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment