Thomas Jonathan Jackson, the famous Confederate general, was born on January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). Both of his parents died when he was very young, making him an orphan; as such, he had limited schooling. Somehow, he received an appointment to West Point and worked hard enough to graduate in 1846 in the top third of his class.
Jackson became famous because of his service in the U.S. Army. He served in the Mexican War and distinguished himself so much that he moved from second lieutenant to major in a period of less than a year. He met Robert E. Lee was serving in Mexico.
After returning to the United States from the Mexican War, he became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington,
teaching artillery tactics and natural philosophy. His knowledge and abilities went unappreciated by most of his students because of his quiet nature and reputation for being a hard teacher with strong religious beliefs.
Jackson favored keeping the Union together, when Virginia seceded, he went along. He was commissioned a colonel and was sent to Harper’s Ferry. Jackson earned his nickname “Stonewall” because of his strong resistance at the first battle at Bull Run in July 1861. He earned national fame in early 1862 because of his rapid marches and battles in the Shenandoah Valley. He and his seventeen thousand Confederate troops defeated more than sixty thousand Union troops; they also prevented reinforcements from reaching McClellan’s campaign against Richmond.
General Jackson and General Lee worked well together and had a lot of success. General Jackson and his troops won a second battle at Bull Run and sent the Union forces north. When Lee’s forces were threatened at Chancellorsville in May 1863, Jackson’s troops took the enemy by surprise and forced them to retreat. General Jackson went out at dusk to scout the battle scene and was shot by one of his own men who mistook him for an enemy soldier. General Jackson died eight days later on May 10, 1863.