On this day in 1861: Gen. Stonewall Jackson

I have a priest friend who refers to all other motorists equally as “Jackson”.  A great idea, that, since it help you not to refer to all other motorists as “____”.   There is also a great old book called Father Smith Instructs Jackson. It is a great old “anonymous” name!

That said, when I saw “Jackson” on the rss of one of the sites I check daily, I thought I would share the link and tale.

From the Civil War Gazette for today, 4 November 1861.

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson rose in his stirrups, raised his arms and addressed the men of the First Brigade, the Stonewall Brigade. Having saved the day at Manassas, their General, rising in popularity, rank and responsibility, was leaving them. Jackson had been given command of the Shenandoah Valley. The promotion, however, was bittersweet. While Stonewall was moving to the Valley, the Stonewall Brigade was not. Had the move been a request, rather than an order, Jackson would have stayed with his men.

But it was an order and on this date, he was before them, extolling their many virtues in a heartfelt farewell.

“You were the First Brigade in the Army of the Shenandoah, the First Brigade in the Army of the Potomac, the first Brigade in the Second Corps, and are the First Brigade in the hearts of your generals. I hope that you will be the First Brigade in this, our second struggle for independence, and in the future, on the fields on which the Stonewall Brigade are engaged, I expect to hear of crowning deeds of valor and of victories gloriously achieved! May God bless you all! Farewell!”

With that and with tears in his eyes, he departed to the sobbing cheers of his beloved soldiers. Jackson, along with aid “Sandie” Pendleton and Chief of Staff John T. L. Preston, boarded a train at the Manassas depot for Strasburg, which they reached after dark.


Read the rest there.

During a conversation with a friend yesterday, I was reminded that I was born less than 100 years after the end of the Civil War.  It wasn’t all that long ago, in the Grand Scheme Of Things.

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  1. AnAmericanMother says:

    In the grand scheme of things, it is not that long ago.
    I knew my great-grandmother on my father’s mother’s side. She was born in 1867, the daughter of a Confederate captain of artillery who fought at Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), Nashville, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, and Kennesaw Mountain. He lived until 1927.

    “And the old one said this, too: that he minded his grandfather talking about the fighting against Cromwell at Drogheda, and that Cromwell was a thick-set ignorant sort of man, with a wart on his chin. And the Irish fought with bows and arrows against him. Isn’t that a forebye thing, that I can mind a man that minded a man who had fought against Cromwell with bows and arrows?”

    – Donn Byrne, Hangman’s House

  2. irishgirl says:

    A couple of years ago, I watched the film ‘Gods And Generals’ on the TV in the motel room where I was staying. I don’t think I saw the whole thing-I was mostly channel surfing-but what I did see, I was absolutely riveted! It was mostly about Stonewall Jackson-what a general he was! And how much he was loved by his troops!
    By the time it ended with his death, I was in tears….and me, a ‘Yankee’ from Upstate NY!

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    Regardless of where you are from, Thomas Jonathan Jackson was a brave, good, godly man.
    He was an odd bird, definitely, but his heart was in the right place and his men loved him.
    You had quite a number of people who happened to be born in the South and felt called to defend their state during the war, but who did the best they could in the circumstances they were born into.

  4. Jon says:


    I, too, am a “Yankee” from upstate NY (Western NY, to be more precise). Except for ten years I was privileged to live in Richmond, VA, and thereby become “galvanized.”

    During that time I also worked in Fredericksburg. I have a great memory of driving down to Guinea Station for lunch one May 10th. The house where Stonewall died on that date is a little outbuilding of a plantation that no longer stands, but the outbuilding is there, with the bed, clock, etc…, as it was the day Stonewall died. I stood there alone in the room, on the very day, next to the bed, pondering what would have happened had he survived until Gettysburg.

    I also have a great shot of my two sons, when they were around 9 and 7, praying at the General’s grave in Lexington (Sandie Pendleton is also buried there, just as you enter the grounds.).

    Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.

  5. albinus1 says:

    I was born almost exactly 100 years after the Battle of Shiloh — a battle in which my great-great-grandfather took part. You’re right, it doesn’t really seem that long ago.

    Perhaps the most impressive part of D.W. Griffith’s movie The Birth of a Nation — which is, of course, a problematic movie in many respects — is the Civil War battle scenes early in the movie. They are even more astonishing, in a way, when one reflects that when this movie was made, in 1915, the end of the Civil War was just 50 years in the past — i.e., well within living memory, and more recent at that time than World War II and the Korean War are now for us.

  6. Bryan Boyle says:

    Being more than interested in the War of Northern Aggression as having grown up in south central VA during the centenial, active reenactor (on the side of the Confederacy, of course, even though I live in the area north of Mason-Dixon…:)), General Jackson holds a special place in the hearts of all patriots.

    A little known fact, which can be gleaned from his writings, was during his time south of the border during the Mexican War, while he was exploring and developing his particular view of spirituality, he had occasion to knock on the door to one of our Churches in Mexico City after it fell, to inquire of the priest there of the tenets of our Faith. Seening as he was part of the conquering ‘horde’ as it were, while welcomed in Christian and Catholic Charity into the church, the pastor was a bit put off by his sincere (he was nothing if not sincere in his search…) questioning and did not encourage Jackson to pursue his enquiry (apparently, according to the General). That Stonewall eventually joined the Presbyterian sect, as strict as it was, was more of an indication of the depth of the rigor with which he conducted his life and, as can be seen, his battles.

    Another little known fact…and probably one that helped increase the animosity of the ‘Lost Cause’ devotees after the war towards another General, James Longstreet, was General Longstreet’s conversion to Catholicism some time after the capitulation at Appomattox. This did not stand him in good stead with his fellow veterans on the CS side, who viewed this as the final surrender to a foreign (as the US was viewed, and still is in some quarters…) power.

    (and as a third aside…the secretary of the treasury for the Confederacy, Judah P. Benjamin, was Jewish, something that never would have been acceptable north of the line…)

  7. Bryan Boyle says:

    And…by the by, if you look closely in a couple of the battles in both “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals”, you can see my face clearly…they used a lot of stock footage shot at various reenactments pre-movie releases…;)

  8. lucy says:

    I own that book – Father Smith Instructs Jackson. How funny that you would talk about it.

  9. I was born on October 10, 1965, a hundred years and about six months after the end of the Civil War. No, not so long ago at all.

    I edit Gilbert Magazine, a periodical devoted to G.K. Chesterton, and my film critic, Art Livingston, is a descendent of two men who fought in the Civil War. They fought for the South, of course. One perished at Fredericksburg, the other at Chancellorsville.

  10. mibethda says:

    The devaluation of Longstreet’s stock amongst the partisans of the Lost Cause was due primarily to his criticism after the war of other Confederates, including his immediate commander, and his conversion of another sort -to the Republican Party during Reconstruction. Many of those who were highly regarded by partisans of the Lost Cause were, in fact, Catholics – Admiral Semmes (as well as other member of the Semmes family, several of whom were Confederate heroes and political leaders) and General Beauregard among them. In addition, the poet of the Lost Cause was a Catholic priest – Fr. Abram Ryan – and several of the Southern Catholic bishops (such as Bishop Verot of Savannah/St. Augustine) were widely admired throughout the South for their pro-Southern partisanship during the war.
    As to Judah P. Benjamin, although a Sephardic Jew, he rarely practiced his faith as an adult ( his cousin and fellow pre-War Jewish southern Senator, David Levy Yulee, also severed his religious connection to Judaism and became a Protestant Christian). Benjamin’s Catholic wife claimed that, on his deathbed, Benjamin was baptised a Catholic.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    Til this very moment I didn’t know Longstreet was a Catholic.
    I knew, however, that he spent a good deal of time after the War bad-mouthing his superiors and associates, and became a Republican to boot.
    That was the reason he got himself into bad odor. And I really have no axe to grind against Longstreet, he was an ancestor of one of my dad’s law partners.
    In addition to Fr. Ryan (author of “The Conquered Banner”), there was Fr. Thomas O’Reilly, who pretty much single-handedly saved the old downtown of Atlanta from burning by Sherman. He is a local hero and still honored.

    Furl that Banner, for ’tis weary;
    Round its staff ’tis drooping dreary;
    Furl it, fold it, it is best;
    For there’s not a man to wave it,
    And there’s not a sword to save it,
    And there’s no one left to lave it
    In the blood that heroes gave it;
    And its foes now scorn and brave it;
    Furl it, hide it–let it rest!

  12. irishgirl says:

    AnAmericanMother-right you are about General Jackson being a ‘brave, good and godly man’! That’s the impression I got from watching ‘Gods And Generals’. That’s why I cried at the end of film, when I watched his death.
    I’ve heard of the ‘priest-poet of the South’, Father Abram Ryan. I own a book called ‘Saints Of The Americas’, by Father Marion Habig, OFM, which has a section on Our Lady and the United States. Near the end of that chapter is a poem Father Ryan wrote for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
    Bryan Boyle-I didn’t know about Jackson’s respect for Catholicism during the Mexican War….very interesting.
    ‘The War of Northern Aggression’-a cousin of mine who moved down to South Carolina after she was married in 1981 used this term to describe the Civil War. It was cool hearing her say ‘The War of Northern Aggression’ in a gently drawling Southern accent-sounded more like a Virginian than a South Carolinian!

  13. Supertradmum says:

    I love this man and wrote a play for teenagers on him called “Crossing the River”, which was done at a high school. He is one of my heroes. Love the bit about the War of Northern Aggression. Why are all the really interesting people on the Confederate Side? I also enjoyed Ken Burns, The Civil War, which I used for teaching when asked, as usual, by a Catholic high school, to teach American History. Thanks for this entry. Seems the great General (and I love his horse, Little Sorrell) has a fan club here.

  14. AnAmericanMother says:


    Here’s the first pic of Little Sorrel I ran across —
    Little Sorrel
    Poor old nag is stuffed and in the V.M.I. museum.
    He wasn’t much of a looker at the best of times, but he was small, strong, sturdy and tractable, all good traits for a commander’s horse. (Lee’s Traveller and Wellington’s Copenhagen were both a bit touchy, Traveller was a bit flighty and Copenhagen was just mean.)
    But — here’s my question. Who is the Franciscan in the reflection? St. Anthony or St. Francis? And what is he doing there?

  15. mibethda says:

    Fr. O’Reilly’s intersession with Sherman in Atlanta was, I believe, repeated in Columbia, S.C. by the mother superior of the Ursuline convent. Since Sherman’s wife was a devout Catholic (and his son became a Jesuit – although against the General’s wishes), perhaps he felt some concern for his domestic harmony if it became known that he had refused the request from a priest or a nun for protection from his troops.

  16. Maltese says:

    Speaking of the Civil War, the Angel of Marye’s Heights story is perhaps the most moving. As Union troops advanced up Marye’s heights, without cover, and were mowed-down by confederates, that evening the Union troops laying dying in the field begged for water, and a Confederate soldier jumped cover to give them water, even while he was initially under fire–all sides yelled cease-fire when they understood his intention.

    One-by-one he gave succor to enemy troop members.

    He died a year later in another campaign.

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sherman actually refused to listen to Fr. O’Reilly, who then went to his subordinate Gen. Slocum and warned him that his Irish troops would mutiny if Sherman ordered them to burn Immaculate Conception. That got Slocum’s attention, and he persuaded Sherman.
    IC (the present building, built after the war) burned anyway in the 1980s (a faulty furnace IIRC). It’s been completely restored and the building is lovely. The “Gather”-fueled, rainb0w-tinged, ad-libbed worship that goes on there, not so much.
    Interesting sidelight on the whole business of Sherman and the March to the Sea — in the Gospel According to Margaret Mitchell, Sherman is very much hated. But he was actually well-regarded in the South immediately after the war.
    This was because he said he was for “total war, and total peace.” He absolutely laid waste to everything in his path, but on the other hand he didn’t believe in kicking his former opponents when they were down. He opposed some of the most vengeful actions of the Radical Republicans and was able to ameliorate some of the most oppressive. General J.E. Johnston (my gg grandfather’s CO) was a pallbearer at his funeral, refused to wear a hat out of respect, and died of pneumonia as a result.
    In fact, Sherman was a featured speaker at a big United Confederate Veterans event one year — my gg grandfather was Commander of his local Camp and was there. Sherman got a standing ovation and was feted by the locals.
    History is always more complicated than we think.

  18. James Joseph says:

    My great-grandfather was born before the American Civil War. No, it wasn’t that long ago. My grandmother was born in the last-year of the 19th-century. And, I am not even well into my 30’s yet.

  19. Maltese says:

    Being neither a partisan of the North or South (I was born in Utah), I still find Fr. Ryan’s poem about General Lee stirring.

    I have a volume of his poems dated 1880–around a decade postbellum–and his poems, next to Gerard Manley Hopkin’s, are some of the best in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and they’re both by Priests to boot!

    I have an English degree from the University of Michigan, one of the best English programs in the world, and I say that not to boast (especially since I remain anonymous here) but to boost-up Fr. Ryan, if I can, because he is a seriously underappreciated poet!

    Fr. Ryan needs to be re-evaluated by English Scholars, because he truly is one of the lights of modern Poetry.

  20. bookworm says:

    “in the Gospel According to Margaret Mitchell, Sherman is very much hated.”

    Years ago, when I was still working for the Catholic press, I read a Catholic News Service story that claimed Mitchell’s account of the burning of Atlanta in “Gone with the Wind” was partly based on the recollections of an elderly (as of the early 1920s) Sister of Mercy who had lived through it.

  21. xavier217 says:

    If he hadn’t been killed at Chancellorsville, he would have been in command of the Second Corps on July 1st (instead of Ewell), and the Battle of Gettysburg (and the war) may well have ended quite differently.

  22. AnAmericanMother says:

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised. At that time there were many, many veterans still living.
    All my Confederate Army relatives who were not killed in the war were still alive well into the 20th century, except for one gg grandfather who was considerably older when he served. I get the impression from what I know that he never really got over Shiloh, where his best friend and brother-in-law was killed along with most of his company. His wife died in labor with twins, who died also, while he was off at the war. He lived with his sole surviving child and her husband, and died of pneumonia in the 80s.
    The problem with Mitchell’s book is not her factual source material, but her Myth of the Old South — the genteel, helpless, romantic planters (except for the occasional upstart like Gerald O’Hara, which explains his ruthless daughter), crushed by the war and overtaken by the amoral opportunists like Butler and the carpetbaggers and scalawags like the trashy Slatterys.
    My thesis involved a lot of digging in the original pre-war records, and at least for the Chattahoochee River Valley from the mountains all the way down to Florida, it isn’t true. The families that were wealthy before the war — after a fairly rough period during early Reconstruction — had recovered their fortunes by the 1880s. You see many of the same names, whether rural landowners or town merchants/professionals — assuming that all the males weren’t killed off in the war. Even then, if you can trace the widows you usually find that they did well, not necessarily by remarrying. My gg grandfather’s sister who lost her husband at Shiloh never remarried, but she continued to run the farm and did well enough to put a very handsome memorial to his memory in the church graveyard some years later (his body was never recovered).
    Which if you think about it makes sense. Hardworking, intelligent, ambitious, educated people may be set back by war and devastation, but even if they lose their money they are still hardworking and so forth.

  23. moconnor says:

    xavier217 – Having studied that battle extensively, I’m not sure Jackson would have made that much of a difference. Had he arrived with the 2nd Corps earlier than Ewell, the Union line might have retreated to Meade’s chosen position at Union Mills, an equally defensible position without the round tops and Culp’s hill as potential problems. Most of the army was still on the road from there on the first day of the battle. Jackson wasn’t always swift nor brilliant. He was extremely fortunate at Chancellorsville that reports of his movements were completely ignored.

    BTW I used to be the music director at St Francis Xavier in Gettysburg. Anyone who visits the city should see the church with it’s stained glass windows showing the Sisters of Charity tending to Confederate and Union wounded. The Church was a hospital (as were others) during the battle.

  24. I am always amazed at the erudition and broad experience of my readers.

  25. bookworm says:

    Another indication of how the Civil War was “not that long ago”: if you go to You Tube you can see a clip from a 1956 episode of “What’s My Line” in which the mystery guest was the last surviving witness to Lincoln’s assassination. He had been 5 years old when his mother took him to see “Our American Cousin” and he was 96 years old when he appeared on the show.

  26. mibethda says:

    Speculation into historical what-might-have-beens are rarely profitable because of the contingencies of events and actions and the uncertainties which flow when even one element in the equation is changed – in this instance, e.g., had Jackson not been shot at Cancellorsville, it is by no means certain that there would have been a battle at Gettysburg: the final result at Chancellorsville may have been different and that might have altered considerations involved in the second invasion of the North; while it is still likely that such an invasion would have been pursued had Jackson lived, it is not likely that the order of battle of the Army of Northern Virginia and the movements of the various elements of the two armies would have led to confrontation at Gettysburg (Lee created a third corps after the loss of Jackson because he lacked confidence in the ability of either Ewell or Hill to handle a unit as large as the corps of Jackson and Longstreet had become; whether Jackson would have dispersed his single corps in the same way that Hill and Ewell did their two corps in the weeks that the army moved through Maryland and Pennsylvania and have been in a position to have his units coalesce at Gettysburg on July 1 can only be rank speculation). What Jackson might have done once the armies initiated contact would have depended upon the forces at hand. It is at least arguable that he would have been more likely to have seen that his troops obeyed Lee’s instructions to avoid hostile confrontation at that point.
    I do think, however, that Professor O’Connor leans a bit heavily upon Jackson for the speed of his movements. Other than at the Seven Days battles (when he had the excuse that he had just transported his forces a considerable distance from the Valley and seems to have lacked necessary maps to determine his dispositions) he was usually quite swift and decisive in the movement of his troops. And, on the subject of music direction moconnor, what is the status of the schola which you have been directing? It seems to have gone into hibernation since the last Mass at St. Patrick’s earlier in the year.
    Maltese, I suspect that Fr. Ryan would be regarded as too politically incorrect these days – in view of certain post-war activities – to be accorded the revival his talent deserves.
    AnAmerican Mother, I think it rather overstates the case to say that Sherman was well regarded in the South after the war. It is true that a few military leaders such as Johnston held him in some regard (in Johnston’s case he and Sherman both accorded the other a great deal of respect during the campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and in Carolina, Sherman offered Johnston terms broader and more generous than even those given Lee by Grant), but among the civilian population in those areas through which his armies moved during the Meridian campaign and the march to the sea and in the areas he occupied such as Savannah and Columbia, there was little love. As Charles Royster points out in Destructive War – perhaps the best analysis of Sherman’s (and also Jackson’s) philosophy of war – Sherman sought to inflict complete destruction on the South’s economy and its ability to sustain a military effort not only for the strategic value from an immediate military standpoint, but also to inflict such suffering as would cause the entire population to – as he put it – forgo their desire for freedom and return to loyalty to the union. While he did not intend the direct harming of civilians or the theft of their personal property, the actions of the large number of stragglers and bummers in this repect were rarely controlled by him or his subordinates. As a consequence of his intended policies and the unintended actions of lawless elements in his forces, his reputation among the civilian population of the deep South suffered for generations – I recall visiting a great aunt in Ft. Gaines back in the early 50’s when I was about seven and asking her about family members in the war. Both of my great grandfathers had fought in the war and one had been seriously wounded at the battle of Peach Tree Creek when the 57th Alabama regiment ( Scott’s Brigade, Loring’s Division, Stewart’s Corp) which he commanded, was struck in the flank by a counterattack just as the Corps was on the verge of breaking Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland (one of Sherman’s three armies in the advance on Atlanta). He survived the war and returned to his medical practice, but died in ’83, the result, according to my great aunt, of the war wound. I was told that his widow, my greatgrandmother, to her dying day would never allow a certain name to be mentioned in her house. Since my great aunt also avoided the name of ‘that man’, I assume that the family tradition was still alive in the 50’s. Hard feelings seem to have died slowly.

  27. AnAmericanMother says:

    We may have stumbled on something here. On the one hand, Margaret Mitchell and your female relations. On the other, the UCV (exclusively male) and my gg grandfathers (who were both also wounded, the artilleryman very seriously so, according to his obituary it troubled him for the rest of his life).
    The men seem to accept it and put it aside as ‘the fortunes of war’. My dad is much the same re the Italians and Germans in WWII. And the men would better appreciate the political angle of having a friend in Washington.
    The ladies (as Kipling observed) take it personally.
    I don’t know what my g grandmother thought of Sherman, he never came up. She, my grandmother, and my great aunt didn’t care for Lincoln but reserved most of their scorn for Reconstruction carpetbaggers and scalawags. And that side of the family was burned out by Sherman and lost everything “except one old blind mule” acc. to family lore.

  28. bookworm says:

    “I was told that his widow, my greatgrandmother, to her dying day would never allow a certain name to be mentioned in her house. Since my great aunt also avoided the name of ‘that man’, I assume that the family tradition was still alive in the 50?s. Hard feelings seem to have died slowly.”

    Years ago I read this story concerning Pres. Harry Truman’s mother, Martha. When she was a child, about 10 years old, her family was forced off their farm in Missouri by a Union military order expelling all civilians from rural areas of four counties near Kansas City that were believed to be hotbeds of pro-Confederate/bushwhacker activity at the time.

    She lived to be 94 years old, long enough to see her son become president, and for all of those years never forgave President Lincoln or the federal government for what had happened to her family. When her son invited her to stay at the White House for the first time and offered her accomodations in the Lincoln Bedroom, she told him she’d rather sleep on the floor. She also scolded him once for laying a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial. Yes, the ladies do indeed take it more personally.

  29. irishgirl says:

    AnAmericanMother-I heard about the ‘meanness’ of Wellington’s horse Copenhagen. I read it on Wikipedia (yeah, I know).
    I think it was at Waterloo. The general gave the horse an appreciative slap on its flank [I think that’s where it was], and it did a mean kick that barely missed his head!
    Horses can be very sensitive!
    I know about Lee’s horse Traveller, too. Before it was buried near his master at Washington and Lee, its skeleton was the target of a student prank: it was on a roof on campus!

  30. AnAmericanMother says:

    I guess Wikipedia is just as good a source as a Georgette Heyer novel, which is how I found out about Copenhagen’s temperament!
    We’ve visited Traveller’s grave, when my daughter was looking at W&L. Neat school, I might have chosen it myself but she preferred Davidson College.
    People leave pennies on Traveller’s gravestone, also carrots and apples. The students hauled that poor skeleton all over the place, it was sort of like the clapper from the Nassau Hall bell at Princeton, or King Charles’s head, you never knew where it would turn up.
    A horse with a brain and steady nerves is worth something. My old TB mare was pretty slow – she couldn’t catch cold if you spotted her two furlongs, but you could hunt her all day and she would never give out, never spooked, never refused a fence. Good jumper, smooth gallop (really just a fast canter), very calm, loved kids. 3-4 little girls could groom her, hang on her neck, pull her tail, she’d just stand there and smile. When she got past heavy work I donated her to the Special Olympics. Haven’t checked up on her in a year or so, she would be 29 now.

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