Today we remember yet another great Christian hero: Brigadier General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Many military historians consider him to one of the greatest military commanders in history. His knack for exploiting tactical advantages made him indispensable to General Lee, who considered him his right hand man. His Valley Campaign is one of the greatest military maneuvers of all time: in 48 days, Jackson won several major tactical battles against a combined force of 60,000 Federals with only 17,000 troops. He only suffered one true defeat throughout the entire War.
Yesterday we fought a great battle and gained a great victory, for which all the glory is due to God alone… My preservation was entirely due, as was the glorious victory, to our God, to whom be all the honor, praise, and glory. The battle was the hardest that I have ever been in, but not near so hot in its fire.
He was a teacher at West Point, and a faithful Presbyterian. One of his greatest joys was providing education and the teaching of the Word to Southern blacks, especially their children.
My dear pastor, in my tent last night, after a fatiguing day’s service, I remembered that I failed to send a contribution for our colored Sunday school. Enclosed you will find a check for that object, which please acknowledge at your earliest convenience and oblige yours faithfully.
Jackson fought for the constitutional rights of the South, and any one who imagines he fought for slavery knows nothing of Jackson. – William C. Chase
Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. He probably opposed the institution. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times. – James I. Robertson
Jackson feared no man. It was his strong faith in God that gave him peace. It was this faith that gave him the strength to stand when others would retreat. His refusal to fall back at the First Battle of Manassas earned him the nickname of “Stonewall” and saved the day for the Confederacy. It was often said of him that “he was never more to be feared than when he was retreating, and where others thought only of strong defensive positions he looked persistently for the opportunity to attack.”
Captain, 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. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
And in the end, it was no Yankee bullet that brought the mighty Stonewall down – it was friendly fire in the dark and confusion of Chancellorsville. The battle was a bloody defeat of the Yankees…but at what cost? When Jackson’s arm had to be amputated and he lay near to death, Lee wrote to him and said, “You have lost your left arm, but I have lost my right.”
When finally the Lord called Jackson home, he was filled with peace, because he knew that the God who had protected him throughout all his life was with him still.
I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go. … It is the Lord’s Day; my wish is fulfilled. … I have always desired to die on Sunday.
Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
To try and sum up this great man is impossible. His death was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Had he lived, Gettysburg would have been a resounding victory. Even so, Jackson would tell us to give the glory to God alone – for it is Him who gives us the victory, and it is Him who denies it.
The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
Let us remember this hero on his birthday. Like Lee, he would not want parades in his honor, but rather to remember God and his mercy to us in all that he gives us.
The muffled drum is beating,
There’s a sad and solemn tread.
Our Banner’s draped in mourning,
As it shrouds th’illustrious dead.
Proud forms are bent with sorrow
And all Southern hearts are sore,
The Hero now is sleeping,
Noble Stonewall is no more.
‘Mid the rattling of the muskets
And the cannon’s thund’rous roar,
He stain’d the field of glory
With his brave life’s precious gore.
And tho’ our flag waved proudly,
We were victors ere sunset,
The gallant deeds of Chancellorsville,
Will mingle with regret.
They’ve borne him to an honor’d grave
The Laurel crown his brow,
By hallow’d James’ silent wave
He’s sweetly sleeping now
Virginia to the South is dear
She holds a sacred trust
Our fallen braves from far and near
Are cover’d with her dust
She shrines the spot where now is laid
The bravest of them all
The Martyr of our country’s cause
Our Idoliz’d Stonewall.
But tho’ his spirit’s wafted
To the happy realms above
His name shall live forever link’d
With reverence and love.