Happy Birthday, Stonewall (sort of)

Stonewall Jackson statue in Jackson’s birthplace, Clarksburg, WV

Happy 155th birthday to Stonewall Jackson, who was born on this day in 1861.

Of course, Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born on January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).

But it was on this day 155 years ago at the battle of First Manassas that Jackson earned his famous nickname—arguably one of the most famous in American history—through his defense of Henry House Hill. Jackson always demurred, saying the name belonged to the brigade, not to him, and indeed the Stonewall Brigade wore its name proudly.

I’ve always found Jackson to be a fascinating person—he’s the reason I got into Civil War history (well, my daughter had something to do with it, too!). There’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20+ years of devotion to the man: there’s as much about him that’s myth and legend as there is that’s fact. That’s a shame, because I think the myth shrouds the man and doesn’t really do him justice. However, people love their Jackson stories, regardless of how true they are or might/might not be.

That said, what’s your favorite Stonewall Jackson story?

3 Responses to Happy Birthday, Stonewall (sort of)

  1. After converting from a non-practicing Episcopalian to an eager
    Presbyterian, Thomas Jackson met the man who would eventually
    become his spiritual mentor, the Reverend Dr. William S. White, of
    the Lexington Presbyterian Church. The good reverend recognized Jackson’s
    thirst for religion and provided Thomas with a tremendous wealth of
    guidance and knowledge in the ways of practicing faith. One Sunday during
    the sermon, Reverend White suggested that every male member should make
    an effort to lead his fellow worshippers in public prayer. Still relatively new to
    the church, Jackson was put off by this notion and did not feel that he was
    either ready or worthy to fulfill such an important obligation.

    Dr. White later recalled the ensuing conversation between Thomas and a
    church elder regarding his hesitance. He stated that the next day, a faithful
    elder of the church asked Major Jackson what he thought of the doctrine of
    the sermon and if he was not convinced that he ought to lead in public
    prayer. He replied, “I do not think it (is) my duty.” Soon after, he was called
    on and made such a stammering effort that the pastor felt badly for him and
    Thomas was greatly mortified. Several subsequent efforts resulted in little

    Despite this, Jackson vehemently pledged to the reverend that he would
    fulfill this duty. “My comfort has nothing in the world to do with it, sir. You,
    as my pastor, think that it is my duty to lead in public prayer—I think so
    too—and by God’s grace I mean to do it. I wish you would please be so good
    as to call on me more frequently.” Dr. White said that he saw from Jackson’s
    reply and manner that he meant to succeed and that he gradually improved
    until he became one of the most gifted men in prayer in his church.

    (Michael Aubrecht)

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