To wrap up our series on Stonewall Jackson statues, let’s finish where we began, and I’ll offer you a few thoughts about this:
Yes, this is a photo of Little Sorrel’s butt.
This photo sits in my study at home, on a bookshelf exclusively devoted to Jackson-related material. I prominently display it there so I can see it every time I walk past.
The photo was given to me by some friends of mine after I’d written a play called Under the Shade of the Trees. In the play, there’s a lot of Jackson adoration that goes on by some of the characters. My friends gave me this photo as an irreverent joke and a reminder to keep things in perspective.
In real life, Jackson adoration still takes on extremely reverent tones, 150 years after his death. I have seen people show up at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine and cry over his death. I’ve seen people pilgrimage from across the country to visit the site. I’ve seen people lay flowers by these statues and leave coins and kisses on Jackson monuments and toss lemons onto his gravesite.
I have no doubt, though, that Jackson would find all this commemoration troubling. “Give the glory to God,” he had said of his battlefield victories, and even his nickname “belongs to the men,” not him.
I am a great admirer of Jackson, but I also try to remember that he was a man, not a bronze God of War. To remember him as anything other than a man robs him of the humanity that made him such a compelling person to begin with and, in the end, does him a terrible injustice.