Being from what is now West Virginia, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson grew up with modest beginnings. Tragedy struck his family at a young age, and in the wake of it all, Jackson’s mother was left with three children and considerable debt. At the age of 18, Jackson enrolled in the military academy at West Point and although he struggled with the curriculum, the young adult was able to persevere and graduate in 1846. Stonewall Jackson would go on to fight in the Mexican War as a first lieutenant where his prowess and legacy as a tough and brave soldier began to spread through the ranks. After the war, Jackson lived in Lexington, Virginia where he was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. Jackson would be criticized for his lack of sympathy and his brusqueness by his students, but whenever anyone from Lexington spoke of Jackson, he was revered as an honest and dutiful man.
It should be known that Stonewall Jackson was not a supporter of his home state of Virginia seceding from the Union, but when push came to shove in April of 1861, he chose to remain loyal to his state, rather than remain loyal to the Union. It would not take long for Jackson to earn his nickname during the Civil War. At the first Battle of Bull Run, General Jackson rushed his troops forward to close a gap in the Confederate line when one of his comrades apparently said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”. A few months later, Jackson was promoted to Major General, continuing his trend upwards to becoming a formidable war leader in the Confederate army.
The next year, Jackson was charged with commanding the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, where he would consistently outduel Union armies that were 3 and 4 times as big as his own. Jackson was able to defend West Virginia, earning himself the claim of being the South’s first great war hero, and also garnering the respect of the Union soldiers on the enemy lines. After the campaign in West Virginia ended, Jackson joined forces with Southern Commander Robert E. Lee, and Jackson’s unit would play a key role at the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Chancellorsville. This leadership had not only garnered him a larger army to work with, but by the time the Fall came around in 1862, Stonewall Jackson had become an absolute legend throughout the ranks of the Confederate army.
After the heroic efforts at the Battle of Chancellorsville, where he and Lee teamed up to earn a decisive victory for the Southern army, Jackson was shot in an instance of friendly fire. He would be transferred to a field hospital where his arm had to be amputated. Although many thought he would fully heal, Jackson would pass away from pneumonia at the age of 39 on May 10, 1863.