The Effects of Pepper

Today is Stonewall Jackson’s birthday. He would be 197 years old were he still with us.

My daughter, when she was young, was a huge Stonewall Jackson groupie. She could roll off information about him the way a serious baseball card collector can roll off players’ stats from the backs of the cards. And she did it with joy in her heart and a smile in her eyes. It was true love!

One thing that caught her attention—as is the case for many people who come to know Stonewall—was his eccentricity. You know, the stories about sucking on lemons in battle, holding his right hand in the air to keep the humors in his body in balance, and sitting bolt-upright in a straight-backed chair.

Keeping perfectly in line with his quirkiness, Jackson was dyspepsic—so much so that he might’ve been a hypochondriac—and so he was quite particular about his diet. For instance, he wouldn’t eat black pepper because he thought it made him lose all the strength in his right leg.

When Stephanie learned this particular tidbit about pepper, she began refusing to eat black pepper. One night at the dinner table, while faced with a pile of mashed potatoes—a dish she usually liked—she said she couldn’t eat any more. “Why?” we asked. “I’m losing all the strength in my right leg,” she replied, completely serious. My wife looked at me quizzically. “Stonewall Jackson,” I said, as though that explained everything. I filled her in.

Recently, while going through some old children’s books, I came across an old copy of My Book About Me by Me, Myself by Dr. Seuss and Roy McKie. It turned out to be my daughter’s book, which she had partially filled out. One page asked about favorite foods, and at the bottom, I saw this:

Can’t stand it, indeed–because she has no strength in her right leg. She only had one leg to stand on.


For Stonewall Jackson birthday remembrances from previous years:

Birthplace of Stonewall Jackson” from January 21, 2020

A Visit with Stonewall Jackson on His Birthday” from January 21, 2019

Happy Birthday, Stonewall Jackson” from January 21, 2016

Stonewall’s Birthday” from January 21, 2015


Telling Jackson’s Story Atop Henry House Hill” from July 21, 2018

Happy Birthday, Stonewall (sort of)” from July 21, 2016


(With thanks to for the pepper picture.)

3 Responses to The Effects of Pepper

  1. Great article Chris really Enjoyed reading that I have two young girls and the things they come out with sometimes have me and my wife in Fits of laughter brilliant

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