Thomas J. Jackson

Thomas Jonathan Jackson (1824-1863) was born in what is today Clarksburg, West Virginia and graduated from West Point in 1846. He fought in the Mexican War, then taught at the Virginia Military Institute from 1851 to 1861. He was a devout Presbyterian and owned six slaves, mostly acquired through marriage. He established a Sunday school for these and other African Americans around Lexington, Virginia, both enslaved and free.

Jackson was an eccentric hypochondriac mocked by his students at VMI as “Tom Fool.” When war clouds gathered in early 1861, however, he electrified the cadets by advising them to “draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.” When Virginia seceded, Jackson was promoted to colonel in the Confederate Army and sent to organize the militia regiments at Harper’s Ferry. He soon fell under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and fought a delaying action at Hoke’s Run.

Jackson, of course, went on to win the nickname “Stonewall” at the First Battle of Bull Run. He later served as Robert E. Lee’s right hand and became one of the most famous and successful Confederate generals before being accidentally shot by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville.