The Stonewall

Exactly 150 years ago today, Thomas J. Jackson (and his brigade!) earned the name by which they are much better known:

On the morning of July 21, hearing of the proximity of the two opposing forces, hundreds of civilians–men, women, and children–turned out to watch the first major battle of the Civil War. The fighting commenced with three Union divisions crossing the Bull Run stream, and the Confederate flank was driven back to Henry House Hill. However, at this strategic location, Beauregard had fashioned a strong defensive line anchored by a brigade of Virginia infantry under General Thomas J. Jackson. Firing from a concealed slope, Jackson’s men repulsed a series of Federal charges, winning Jackson his famous nickname “Stonewall.”

Basic students of history know Jackson was a highly capable general… Lee referred to him as his “right arm.”  There was more to the man than martial ability, though.  Ill-prepared for an opportunity at West Point, he nevertheless impressed the school with his devotion to self-improvement.  More problematic for those who choose to see the South through only one lens, he taught and supported a Sunday School… for slaves, which he believed had souls in need of salvation as much as any white man.

Jackson, Lee and many other Southern leaders were just as imperfect as you or me.  Though devoted to their faith, they had an incomplete understanding of God and man (…as do we today).  Still, I would gladly take their flawed but consistent character over the corrupt egalitarian-posing ‘leaders’ of today.

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