4.14.2007

Stonewall's soft side

A great little book, compiling the extant letters of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson to his wife Anna. Potter concisely summarizes the key political, military and biographical moments of his life, and then lets the letters speak for themselves. Jackson's tender and earnest love for his wife and his spiritual zeal shine through.

My favorite came near the end, actually letter by his wife, describing how Jackson dealt with his 5-month old daughter, whom he did not get to see until she was that old, due to the war. He refused to pick her up from her crib until she stopped crying, and then only put her down when she did cry, training and breaking her selfish 5-month old will. Anna said he was as much like a stone wall over that crib as he was on the battlefield.

Stonewall was very popular with his men, and especially sought out chaplains for them, and took great interest in the spiritual revival that swept the camps during the winter of 1862-3. The theologian Robert Dabney, a relation of extended family, was also a personal aide of Jackson's for a time during the war.

Jackson's life ended tragically, as he conducted reconaissance ahead of his own lines. His own edgy and confused men fired on him, thinking he was the "Yankee invader." He was hit several times, needed an arm amputated, and then died of the ensuing pneumonia, with his wife at his side. He spoke of the rest and glory that awaited him, and when General Robert E. Lee sent a letter giving him the credit for the latest military victory, Jackson said Lee should have given God the glory instead.

I'll save the Civil War discussion for another time, except to say that I still won't call it the second war for independence, as some of my southern friends do.

1 comment:

  1. That's okay. You can just call it The War of Northern Aggression. ;-)

    ReplyDelete