This week’s person of the week is Confederate General and Virginia native Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.
Jackson fought for the Confederacy, because he fought for Virginia. A home state being as unfamiliar as a concept to us today as is slavery. By all accounts Jackson appears to have treated slaves and blacks with the utmost courtesy and respect, largely stemming from his religious beliefs. However his overall opinion on the issue of slavery is less clearly understood. He did own slaves and seems to have not really opposed that institution but still treated his slaves better than most and a quote about Jackson says he was the black mans friend.
But it is not for being a gentemanly slave owner that Jackson is our person of the week. Rather he was selected for his success in military strategy.
Though Jackson was relatively unknown at the start of the Civil War, and only a Colonel, had he been more well known and given the overall command instead of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy may have very well won the war.
While Lee’s typical strategy was to stand in front of the enemy and fight, Jackson was a master strategist who regularly developed plans of campaign as well as battlefield maneuvers to outwit the numerically superior Union forces. Having to fight under Lee however his plans were often neglected. General Longstreet is once reported to have said, “General Jackson never showed his genius when under the immediate command of General Lee.”
It was at Chancellorsville that Lee finally allowed for a plan of Jacksons to be implemented. Jacksons force split off from the main Confederate force and around the right of the Union lines. He found himself staring down the line of the Union force at camp. Jackson led his forces forward and routed the Union. Jackson rolled up the Union line to its center until daylight ran out and brought the days action to a halt.
However it was at this point, in the darkness around Chancellorsville that Jackson was shot, it is suspected by Confederate troops, who mistook the officers on horseback in the dark for Union cavalry. Hearing about Jacksons wounds, General Lee remarked, “I have lost my right arm” in regards to Jackson.
Jackson was shot three times and evacuated. His left arm had to be amputated and he died of pneumonia several days later on 10 May, 1963.
Following are some quotes of General Jackson.
Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.
The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.
Don’t say it’s impossible! Turn your command over to the next officer. If
he can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can, even if I have to take him from
When war does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the
Then, Sir, we will give them the bayonet!
Bevin Alexanders book Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson is a good read for more information about Jacksons ability as a commander and strategist.