In the week of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s birthday (he was born January 21, 1824) it is good to remind those who live in West Virginia that although Virginians take offense, Jackson was born and raised in what is today West Virginia.
Thomas J. Jackson was born in Clarksburg and was raised in Jackson’s Mill (near Jane Lew). His father, Jonathan Jackson, died when Thomas was two. His mother herself was ill. Thomas and his sister, Laura Ann, were sent to Jackson’s Mill to be raised by their uncle Cummins Jackson. They spent four years there. Thomas returned to Clarksburg to live with his aunt Polly for a time before returned again to Jackson;s Mill where he lived another seven years.
Thomas Jackson went on to study at West Point Military Academy, graduating from the Class of 1846. From there his career was as a 2nd Lt. in the 1st U. S. Artillery Regiment, serving in the Mexican War. His war service brought him to a teaching position at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He was Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and instructor of Artillery. In 1859 he led a small group of WMI cadets to Charlestown, VA (today Charles Town, WV) to guard abolitionist John Brown during his trial.
When the Civil War started, Colonel Thomas J. Jackson was sent to Harpers Ferry, VA (now WV) to train new enlistees for the Confederate Army. He led his troops against a much larger Union army who first invaded Virginia on July 2, 1861. And then he and his men were sent to Manassas Junction, VA. Enroute, Jackson received a telegram that he had been promoted to General.
At Manassas Junction, General Barnard Bee reported that Jackson was “standing like a stone wall” – and thus the nickname, which General Jackson personally hated. He gave the nickname instead to those new trainees from Harpers Ferry who henceforth and hereafter became known as the Stonewall Brigade.
With continued great successes in the Civil War, Jackson was ironically killed by his own men returning in the dark from a mission the night of May 2, 1863 at Chancellorsville, VA. He died of pneumonia following the amputation of his arm from that wounding.
The Confederate army’s second most beloved General, General Robert E. Lee’s most important confidant, and arguably one of two most iconic generals of the Confederacy claimed most by Virginians -- was actually a West Virginian! Happy birthday General Jackson.
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