Today marks the 155th anniversary of the fateful death of Stonewall Jackson. In honor of this truly remarkable figure, who succumbed to pneumonia on May 10, 1863, I thought I’d share something my 10-year-old son and I recently wrote for our homeschool co-op.
This “Faces of History” research paper is part of a curriculum we use called the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I referenced the assignment in my last blog because of my displeasure with a few source-texts for some of the other American-history-based lessons within the writing-intensive program.
Honestly, the main reason my husband and I decided to homeschool our sons originally was to counter the statist propaganda taught by race-class-gender fetishists and pushed as “history” in government schools. I mean,we were on the home-education train well before we were Christians … or even birthed children! So, yeah, resisting Lincolnianism is kinda our thang.
Hence, my kiddo and I were on a mission to set the Southern record straight with our five-paragraph Jackson biography, which had to include the following format: introduction, three sub-topics, and conclusion. We decided that “soldier,” “faith,” and “legacy” would be fitting subjects to encompass the inscrutable Jackson.
We also opted to use only adult sources. Too many children’s history books, especially ones about the “civil war,” are simply not worthy of the time and energy of folks who aren’t interested in revisionism. Thus, my son required quite a bit of my help parsing, digesting, and organizing the intense, but high-quality materials.
Moreover, IEW encourages what is called “hand holding” – a parent taking lead on some aspects of an assignment but with the child remaining fully part of the process. The methodology asserts that the student will learn to emulate the skills through modeling the adult. And it works. I know because I’ve seen it. And this paper is proof.
Before completing this assignment, my son and I already thoroughly respected Jackson. Over the years, the family has visited his home, place of work (Virginia Military Institute), and grave in Lexington. We’ve stopped traffic by taking a family picture while waving both Battle Flags and the Virginia state flag in front of his grand statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond.
Later this spring, we’re camping at Stone Mountain, Georgia – home to the largest bas-relief carving in the world, which just so happens to feature Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. Down the road, we plan to make pilgrimages to some other important Jackson sites, including Manassas, Chancellorsville, and Clarksburg.
We understand that time is of the essence. We grasp that the memorials to Jackson and other Confederate dead are under siege.
We get that we must embrace and celebrate Southern heroes before the puritanical progressives move them to “contextualized” museums or just raze them altogether. Hell, the latter is what Jackson’s quisling great-great-grandsons aim to do. Sickening. We can deduce that this iconoclasm is a vital battleground within the ongoing cultural genocide.
But after diving into the details of this valiant, noble, and godly man, my son eventually wanted to title his paper “Stonewall Jackson kicks ass!” Being that our co-op is Christian and my allowing that racy title probably wouldn’t have been the best parenting ever, we opted for something a bit more academic but as historically accurate.
Still, we think this paper speaks to our overall contentious contention: that if more people were like Stonewall Jackson, the world would be a better place. You read and decide for yourself.
On his deathbed, Jackson’s final words were “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” So while this son of the South is at peace dwelling in the the eternal, we unReconstructed rebels continue to fight in Jackson’s stead for his honor and for his cause: hearth and home.
And there’s no better way to raise unReconstructed resistors than by homeschooling the next generation. As Proverbs 28:18 says, “Instruct your son, and he shall love you; and he shall give honor to your soul, lest he follow a lawless people.”
“Stonewall Jackson: The Indispensable American Patriot”
It was once said of “Stonewall” Jackson that “A braver man God never made.” But Thomas Jonathan Jackson was an unlikely soldier with humble beginnings. In 1824, he was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, when the state was still part of Virginia, and was an orphan at a young age. He attended West Point not to become a soldier, but to sharpen his character. Having ranked last on his entry exam, Jackson graduated 17 out of 59, proving his dogged determination. And by the Mexican War, he had earned a reputation as a “fighting man.” Interestingly, Jackson hated war and was not a secessionist. But he loved Virginia and considered the invasion of his homeland acts of war, aggression, and tyranny. It’s a popularly mimicked moral misjudgment that Jackson and his Confederate brothers fought only to keep slavery intact. However, Jackson, who was lionized for his kindness by many blacks of the time, either freed or hired out his six slaves at the onset of the war and brought many slaves and free blacks to Christ before his death. In 2005, a black Southern pastor gave an honest account: “Thomas Jackson, like Jesus, was willing to cross real boundaries for the sake of the Gospel.” Because he was such an exemplary man, more people should aspire to be like “Stonewall” Jackson.
Jackson was a pure military genius, whose fearlessness made him and Gen. Robert E. Lee a near invincible team during the War Between the States. To try to shorten the conflict, he was ready to raise the “black flag.” “Shoot them all,” Jackson stated in June 1862. “I do not wish them to be brave.” As a general, he aimed to wage an aggressive, punishing war on the enemy by taking the bayonet to Yankee territory. Surprisingly, Jackson exhibited calmness in battle. In fact, that’s how he got the name “Stonewall.” “There is Jackson standing like a stonewall,” yelled Gen. Bernard Bee of South Carolina at the First Battle of Manassas. “Let us determine to die here and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!” It was at this battle that Jackson’s “foot cavalry” saved the day, as they were known to do. Jackson was able to move large armies at unheard of speeds. These forced marches averaged 20 miles a day with each soldier carrying 40 to 50 pounds of gear. Because Jackson consistently beat overwhelming odds, even when the Yankees had double the troops, he had become the most famous general in the world by the spring of 1862. By flanking the Union and pulling off unfathomable sweeps, the formidable “Stonewall” always turned up the heat. “Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy,” Jackson explained, “and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in pursuit.” Understanding human nature, Jackson took advantage of the “fog of war,” so together with Lee’s direction, the two incredible generals never lost a battle.
Because Jackson was a “man of arms surrounded by tenets of faith,” he was known as the “Confederate Joshua.” Like the Biblical soldier, Jackson believed he was the Lord’s instrument on earth. “Duty is ours. Consequences are God’s,” he uttered on his death bed. Courage. Leadership. Divine guidance. These were the attributes that followed Jackson into battle, making him the “sledgehammer of the war.” Jackson was an enigma. He was the model Christian and soldier, a Calvinist who questioned predestination, and a slaveowner who ran a Colored Sunday School for slaves and free blacks. Additionally, Jackson did not support slavery as a choice because he considered it ordained by God: slaves were given this burden and that he must be a compassionate master. Similarly, Jackson thought the Union had violated the principles of the Founding Fathers, the principles of Christianity, and the principles of civility, as well. The North was “attempting to create a new society that lacked order and cohesiveness … (and) seemed to be striving to alter basic American structures,” explained historian James I. Robertson, Jr. “If the South did not resist, it would stand in failure of God’s will and become subservient to Northern domination.” And he was right. Jackson’s Christianity was his lamp in all that he did. The general, who knew death wasn’t his choosing, was as prepared for it in peace as in war. Fighting by the Old Testament and living by the New Testament, Jackson was truly a soldier of the cross.
After Jackson was shot by friendly fire on May 2, 1863, at Chancellorsville, his death a week later was a fatal blow to the Confederacy and stunned, appalled, and astonished North and South alike. His military partnership with Lee was one of history’s most adept. “You have lost your left arm, I have lost my right,” Lee mournfully wrote to his ablest lieutenant whose arm had been amputated because of the wound. The legacy of this team is second to none, and the South’s winning strategies were dependent upon it. “So great is my confidence in General Lee that I’m willing to follow him blindfolded,” stated Stonewall of his fervent loyalty to the general. Commenting on Jackson’s resolve and devotion, Lee remarked, “Straight as the needle to the pole he advanced the execution of my purpose.” Since Lee attempted to divide the army and flank the enemy at Gettysburg without Jackson, the system failed. Boldly, Lee even declared that a complete Southern victory both at the famous Pennsylvania battle and for Confederate independence would have occurred if Jackson had not been killed.
Isn’t it shocking that this amazing man is not respected anymore? Jackson was once mocked as “Hilljack,” yet became one of history’s most celebrated generals, who was adored, respected, and exalted by his troops. “His fights were our fights, his victories were our victories,” a Georgian soldier explained. “My individuality, with that of thousands of others, was represented in the power wielded by that great military chieftain.” Honestly, to talk of Jackson while leaving out his Christianity “would be like undertaking to describe Switzerland without making mention of the Alps,” remarked Dr. Moses D. Hoge, who was a fellow Presbyterian. He prayed before everything. On Sundays, he didn’t read newspapers. He prayed in his tent and even during battle. People felt so reverently about Jackson, even in the North. When a Confederate boat called “Stonewall” fell into Union hands, the enemy kept the name out of admiration for Jackson. Crushing all hopes of Southern victory, his unfortunate death shocked everyone and destroyed the winning Lee-Jackson alliance. Stonewall Jackson was an irreplaceable American patriot, not a traitor.
Bedwell, Randall. May I Quote Stonewall Jackson? Cumberland House Publishing Inc., 1997.
Gwynne, S.C. Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. Simon & Schuster, 2014.
“Jackson’s ‘colored Sunday school’ class.” The Washington Times, 2006, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/may/5/20060505-083815-2779r/. January 16, 2018.
McClanahan, Brion. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes. Regnery Publishing Inc., 2012.
Robertson, James I., Jr. Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend. MacMillan Publishing USA, 1997.
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Truth warrior, Jesus follower, wife, and boymom. Apologetics practitioner for Orthodox Christianity, the Southern tradition, homeschooling, and freedom. Recovering feminist-socialist-atheist, graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and retired mainstream journalist turned domesticated belle and rabble-rousing rhetorician. A mama who’s adept at triggering statists, so she’s going to bang as loudly as she can.