JONATHAN JACKSON Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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JACKSON, Thomas Jonathan, soldier, born in Clarksburg, West Va., 21 January, 1824; died at Chancellorsville, Virginia, 10 May, 1863. His great-grandfather emigrated from London in 1748 to Maryland. Here he married Elizabeth Cummins, and shortly afterward removed to West Virginia, where he founded a large family. At seven years of age Thomas Jonathan, whose father had been a lawyer, became an orphan, and he was brought up by a bachelor uncle, Cummins Jackson. Young Jackson’s constitution was weak, but the rough life of a West Virginia farm strengthened it, and he became a constable for the county He was appointed a cadet at the United States military academy at the age of eighteen. His preparation was poor, and he never reached a high grade. On his graduation in 1846 he was ordered to Mexico, became a lieutenant in Magruder’s battery, and took part in General Scott’s campaign from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. He was twice brevetted for good conduct at Churubusco and Chapultepee. After the Mexican war he was for a time on duty at Fort Hamilton, New York harbor, and subsequently was sent to Fort Meade, Florida. He resigned from the army in 1851, on his election as professor of philosophy and artillery tactics in Virginia military institute. He was noted for the faithfulness with which he performed his duties and his earnestness in matters of religion (he was a member and officer of the Presbyterian church); but his success as a teacher was not great. He took much interest in the improvement of the slaves and conducted a Sunday school for their benefit, which continued in operation a generation after his death. A few days after the secession of Virginia he took command of the troops that were collecting at Harper’s Ferry, and, when Virginia joined the Confederacy a few weeks later, he was relieved by General Joseph E. Johnston, and then became commander of a brigade in Johnston’s army, which rank he held at the battle of Bull Run. In that action the left of the Confederate line had been turned and the troops holding it driven back for some distance. Disaster to the Confederates was imminent, and Johnston was hurrying up troops to support his left. Jackson’s brigade was the first to get into position, and checked the progress of the National forces.


The broken troops rallied upon his line, other re-enforcements reached the left, the Confederates took the aggressive, and in a short time gained a victory. In the crisis of the fight, General Bernard E. Bee, in rallying his men, said: “See, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall; rally on the Virginians!” Bee fell a few moments after, but his exclamation gave Jackson a new name. For his conduct at Bull Run, Jackson was made major-general, and in November, 1861, was assigned to the command of the district that included the Shenandoah valley and the portion of Virginia northwest of it. In the course of the winter he drove the National troops from his district, but the weather compelled him to return to winter quarters at Winchester. Early in March he was at Winchester with 5,000 men, while General Nathaniel P. Banks was advancing against him from the Potomac. Jackson’s instructions were to detain as large a hostile force as possible in the valley, without risking the destruction of his own troops. He fell back forty miles before Banks; but as soon as the latter returned to Winchester and began to send his troops away, Jackson with 3,500 men made a forced march toward Winchester, and on 23 March attacked the troops still left in the valley with great vigor. In this battle (at Kernstown) he was defeated; but so fierce and unexpected was the attack that Banks, with all the troops within reach, returned to the valley. Jackson retreated up the Shenandoah and took position at Swift Run Gap in the Blue Ridge mountains At the end of April, 1862, he entered upon a new campaign in the valley. While McClellan’s great army was pushing up the peninsula toward Richmond, General Irvin McDowell with 30,000 men lay on the Rappahannock and threatened Richmond from the north. Banks with 20,000 men occupied Harrisonburg and was watching Jackson, while Fremont was gathering a column of 15,000 men on the upper Potomac and moving toward Staunton. Jackson was given control of all the Confederate troops in northern Virginia, with instructions to do the best he could to hamper the operations of the National armies in that region.