Thomas Stonewall Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia, on 21st January, 1824. After graduating 17th in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He served with distinction in the Mexican War and won two brevets. While in Mexico Jackson became a devout Presbyterian. A friend later commented that "he never smoked, he was a strict teetotaler and never touched a card."
In 1851 Jackson was recruited to teach at the Virginia Military Institute. Jackson was a devout Presbyterian. A friend later commented that "he never smoked, he was a strict teetotaler and never touched a card." His students called him Deacon Jackson while others compared him to Oliver Cromwell.
On the outbreak of the American Civil War Jackson was commissioned as colonel and was given the task of organizing volunteers into the new Confederate Army. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general he took part in the first battle at Bull Run (July, 1861) against the Union Army led by Irvin McDowell. The Confederate troops led by Joseph E. Johnston, Jeb Stuart, Jubal Early and Pierre T. Beauregard easily defeated the inexperienced Union troops. It was during this battle that Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee said Jackson's troops stood against the Union forces "like a stone wall". After this he was known as Stonewall Jackson.
By the summer of 1862 the main Union Army under George McClellan were ready to march on Richmond. McClellan and his 115,000 men encountered Confederate Army at Williamsburg on 4th May. McClellan moved his troops into the Shenandoah Valley and along with John C. Fremont, Irvin McDowell and Nathaniel Banks surrounded Jackson and his 17,000 man army.
Jackson was ordered by President Jefferson Davis to try and delay the attack on Richmond. First Jackson attacked John C. Fremont at Cross Keys before turning on Irvin McDowell at Port Republic. Jackson then rushed his troops east to join up with Joseph E. Johnston and the Confederate forces fighting George McClellan.
In June, 1862 Major General John Pope was given command of the new Army of Virginia. Pope was instructed to move east to Blue Ridge Mountains towards Charlottesville. It was hoped that this move would help George McClellan by drawing Robert E. Lee away from defending Richmond. Lee's 80,000 troops were now faced with the prospect of fighting two large armies: McClellan (90,000) and Pope (50,000)
Joined by Jackson , the Confederate troops constantly attacked George McClellan and on 27th June they broke through at Gaines Mill. Convinced he was outnumbered, McClellan retreated to James River. Abraham Lincoln, frustrated by McClellan's lack of success, sent in Major General John Pope, but he was easily beaten back by Jackson.
In July, 1862, John Pope decided to try a capture Gordonsville, a railroad junction between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley. Pope selected Nathaniel Banks to carry out the task. Robert E. Lee considered Gordonsville to be strategically very important and sent Jackson to protect the town. On 9th August, Jackson defeated Banks at Cedar Run. Pope now ordered George McClellan army based at Harrison's Landing to join the campaign to take the railroad junction. When Lee heard this news he brought together all the troops he had available to Gordonsville.
On 29th August, troops led by Jackson and James Longstreet, attacked Pope's Union Army at Manassas, close to where the first battle of Bull Run had been fought. Pope and his army was forced to retreat across Bull Run. The Confederate Army pursued the Army of Virginia until they reached Chantilly on 1st September.
The following month George McClellan faced Jackson again at Antietam. On 17th September, McClellan and Major General Ambrose Burnside attacked with over 75,300 troops against 37,330 Confederate soldiers. Lee held out until Ambrose Hill and reinforcements arrived. It was the most costly day of the war with the Union Army having 2,108 killed, 9,549 wounded and 753 missing. The Confederates, who were now have serious difficulty replacing losses, had 2,700 killed, 9,024 wounded and 2,000 missing.
Jackson also led his men at Fredericksburg (November/December, 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 1863). However, after returning from the battlefield he was accidentally shot by one of his own men. Jackson's left arm was successfully amputated but he developed pneumonia and he died at Guinea Station on 10th May, 1863.