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Facts about Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson for Kids


  • Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and one of the best-known Confederate commanders after General Robert E. Lee.
  • Confederate pickets accidentally shot him at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863.
  • His death was a severe setback for the Confederacy, affecting not only its military prospects, but also the morale of its army and of the general public.
  • Jackson in death became an icon of Southern heroism and commitment, joining Lee in the pantheon of the “Lost Cause”.
  • His Valley Campaign and his envelopment of the Union Army right wing at Chancellorsville are studied worldwide even today as examples of innovative and bold leadership.
  • He excelled as well in other battles; the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) where he received his famous nickname “Stonewall”, Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
  • Jackson was not universally successful as a commander, however, as displayed by his weak and confused efforts during the Seven Days Battles around Richmond in 1862.
  • The family migrated west across the Blue Ridge Mountains to settle near Moorefield, Virginia, (now West Virginia) in 1758.
  • The family already had two young children and were living in Clarksburg, in what is now West Virginia, when Thomas was born.
  • The following year, after giving birth to Thomas’s half-brother, Julia died of complications, leaving her three older children orphaned.
  • Jackson began his United States Army career as a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment and was sent to fight in the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848.
  • After the American Civil War began he appears to have hired out or sold his slaves.
  • In November 1859, at the request of the governor of Virginia, Major William Gilham led a contingent of the VMI Cadet Corps to Charles Town to provide an additional military presence at the hanging of militant abolitionist John Brown on December 2, following his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry on October 16.
  • Regardless of the controversy and the delay in relieving Bee, Jackson’s brigade, which would thenceforth be known as the Stonewall Brigade, stopped the Union assault and suffered more casualties than any other Southern brigade that day; Jackson has since then been generally known as Stonewall Jackson.
  • During the battle, Jackson displayed a gesture common to him and held his left arm skyward with the palm facing forward—interpreted by his soldiers variously as an eccentricity or an entreaty to God for success in combat.
  • After the Valley Campaign ended in mid-June, Jackson and his troops were called to join Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in defense of the capital.
  • As Jackson and his staff were returning to camp on May 2, they were mistaken for a Union cavalry force by the 18th North CarolinaInfantry regiment who shouted, “Halt, who goes there?”, but fired before evaluating the reply.
  • He was thought to be out of harm’s way; but unknown to the doctors, he already had classic symptoms of pneumonia, complaining of a sore chest.
  • Jackson is featured prominently in the novel and film Gods and Generals.