Thomas Jonathon "Stonewall" Jackson

For some time now i have had an interest TJ "Stonewall" Jackson. His character, his success, and his faith have all intrigued me. My interest started back in grade school when i first learned about the American Civil War and the Battle of Bull Run specifically. Over time i grew to learn more about the man, and the soldier, and the legend.

When i was still commuting 2 1/2 hours a day i checked the book "Stonewall in the Valley: Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Spring 1862", on tape. What a fascinating achievement. During that campaign Jackson pushed his men to their limits. He has been quoted as saying;
"I yield to no man in sympathy for the gallant men under my command; but I am obliged to sweat them tonight, so that I may save their blood tomorrow."
They became known as Jackson's "Foot Cavalry". Jackson was masked his intentions so well that he often did not reveal his full intention to his subordinate commanders. This often caused friction between them, but when victory was achieved it all was forgotten. There are two quotes that i think sum up my impression of the man as a military leader:
"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up pursuit."

"To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure the fruits of victory is the secret of a successful war"
But for me the quote that endears me to this man more than any other has to do with his trust in God and that "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28) is:
"My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me."
That is the same sentiment the samurai hold. To not fear death and to serve their lord. Only then can one be completely free to serve.

For my last birthday i requested the book, "Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend" from my beloved and i've only recently started reading it. It was recommended to me by a good friend who earned his Master's degree on Civil War studies, and written by Professor James I. Robertson Jr. This book has been hard for me to put down. I often have to switch hands as the 900+ page book is a heft to hold for any length of time, but well worth the read. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who wants to know more about Gen. Jackson. This book is a true biography in that it is a work on the man himself and not just his military exploits or idiosyncrasies. (I did learn that the sucking on lemons thing is a myth and not a proven trait. Gen. Jackson was very fond of citrus fruits in all flavors, but he never took to sucking on lemons in particular.)

So far i have only gotten to the end of the chapter concerning Lieutenant Jackson's time in Mexico. It was their he learned that he had the fortitude to stand and command with a clear mind in the din of battle. At one point he was commanding his two cannons practically single-handedly, while under intense return fire. It was said that at one point a cannonball actually passed between his legs. How much is true, and how much is hype is a matter of time and unverifiable by me, but what is true is that his recognition for actions under fire where known Army wide at the time.

Just as with any man, TJ Jackson was not a perfect man. I have not read as to why he chose to fight for the South yet but while i admire men like Jackson, Lee, and Longstreet, i have no doubt in my mind that the end result of the American Civil War was just as it should have been. I am enjoying reading about such details that he was friends with few, often mirthless, and strict in the execution of his duties. There is still much to respect about this man and i am thoroughly enjoying reading this book. This is a work, along with "Stonewall Jackson's Book of Maxims" (by the same author) is one that i am confident that i will read a few times over.

On a personal note, and having an "Aspie" of my own, i think it may be possible that Thomas Jonathon Jackson may have had Aspergers. He has very similar mannerisms. How he approached his tasks, how he could have a single minded focus, how he did not always grasp humor, and how he was incredibly loyal to those whom he did call friend. I will never know for sure, but i am confident of one thing... i will be singing praises to the "All Providential Savior" with him.

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