Stonewall Jackson

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It is painful enough to discover with what unconcern they speak of war and threaten it. They do not know its horrors. I have seen enough of it to make me look upon it as the sum of all evils.

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824May 10, 1863) was an American teacher and soldier. He became a famous Confederate general during the American Civil War as a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee.

Sourced[edit]

  • The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
    • Speech to cadets at the Virginia Military Institute (March 1861); as quoted in Mighty Stonewall (1957) by Frank E. Vandiver, p. 131; this has sometimes been paraphrased as "When war does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard."
  • If the general government should persist in the measures now threatened, there must be war. It is painful enough to discover with what unconcern they speak of war and threaten it. They do not know its horrors. I have seen enough of it to make me look upon it as the sum of all evils.
    • Comments to his pastor (April 1861) as quoted in Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by His Widow Mary Anna Jackson (1895), Ch. IX : War Clouds — 1860 - 1861, p. 141; This has sometimes been paraphrased as "War is the sum of all evils." Before Jackson's application of the term "The sum of all evils" to war, it had also been applied to slavery by abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay in The Writings of Cassius Marcellus Clay : Including Speeches and Addresses (1848), p. 445; to death by Georg Christian Knapp in Lectures on Christian Theology (1845), p. 404; and it had also been used, apparently in relation to arrogance in a translation of "Homily 24" in The Homilies of S. John Chrysostom on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (1839), p. 331
The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
I like liquor — its taste and its effects — and that is just the reason why I never drink it.
Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow…
  • Then, Sir, we will give them the bayonet!
    • Reply to Colonel Barnard E. Bee when he reported that the enemy were beating them back. At the First Battle of Bull Run (21 July 1861); as quoted in Stonewall Jackson As Military Commander (2000) by John Selby, p. 21
  • Yesterday we fought a great battle and gained a great victory, for which all the glory is due to God alone. Although under a heavy fire for several continuous hours I received only one wound, the breaking of the longest finger of my left hand; but the doctor says the finger may be saved. It was broken about midway between the hand and knuckle, the ball passing on the side next to the forefinger. Had it struck the centre, I should have lost the finger. My horse was wounded, but not killed. Your coat got an ugly wound near the hip, but my servant, who is very handy, has so far repaired it that it doesn't show very much. My preservation was entirely due, as was the glorious victory, to our God, to whom be all the honor, praise, and glory. The battle was the hardest that I have ever been in, but not near so hot in its fire.
  • My dear pastor, in my tent last night, after a fatiguing day's service, I remembered that I failed to send a contribution for our colored Sunday school. Enclosed you will find a check for that object, which please acknowledge at your earliest convenience and oblige yours faithfully.
    • Letter to his pastor after the First Battle of Bull Run (22 July 1861); as quoted in The Religious Development of the Negro in Virginia (1914) by Joseph Brummell Earnest, p. 84
  • "Nothing justifies profanity."
    • A wounded Jackson said to Captain John Imboden after the First Manassas

(The Oxford Dictionary of Civil War Quotations, 2006)

  • Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.
    • Speaking to Captain John D. Imboden (24 July 1861), as quoted in Stonewall Jackson As Military Commander (2000) by John Selby, p. 25; sometimes quoted as "My religious beliefs teach me..."
  • In the Army of the Shenandoah, you were the First Brigade! In the Army of the Potomac you were the First Brigade! In the Second Corps of this Army, you are the First Brigade! You are the First Brigade in the affections of your general, and I hope by your future deeds and bearing you will be handed down the posterity as the First Brigade in this our Second War of Independence. Farewell!
    • Farewell address to his brigade, as he left to receive his promotion to Major General (4 October 1861)
  • Our men fought bravely, but the enemy repulsed me. Many valuable lives were lost. Our God was my shield. His protecting care is an additional cause for gratitude.
    • Letter to his wife from Mt. Jackson after the First Battle of Kernstown (24 March 1862), as quoted in Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, (Stonewall Jackson) (1866) by Robert Lewis Dabney, p. 329
  • I yield to no man in sympathy for the gallant men under my command; but I am obliged to sweat them tonight, so that I may save their blood tomorrow. The line of hills southwest of Winchester must not be occupied by the enemies artillery. My own must be there and in position by daylight. … You shall however have two hours rest.
    • To Col. Sam Fulkerson, who reported on the weariness of their troops and suggested that they should be given an hour or so to rest from a forced march in the night. (24 May 1862); as quoted in Mighty Stonewall (1957) by Frank E. Vandiver, p. 250
  • Who could not conquer with such troops as these?
    • Remark to his staff (25 August 1862), as quoted in Life of Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson) (1866) by Robert Lewis Dabney, p. 266
  • My men have sometimes failed to take a position, but to defend one, never!
    • Statement to Major Heros von Borcke (13 December 1862), as quoted in Memoirs of the Confederate War for Independence (1867) by Heros von Borcke, p. 301; this has been paraphrased as "My troops may fail to take a position, but are never driven from one!"
  • Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
    • Last words (May 10, 1863); as quoted in "Stonewall Jackson's Last Days" by Joe D. Haines, Jr. in America's Civil War
  • I like liquor — its taste and its effects — and that is just the reason why I never drink it.
    • As quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1874) by John William Jones, p. 171
  • I am more afraid of King Alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.
    • As quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1874) by John William Jones, p. 171
  • Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.
    • As quoted in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (1884 - 1888) edited by Robert Underwood Clarence C. Buel, Vol. II, p. 297
  • War means fighting. The business of the soldier is to fight. Armies are not called out to dig trenches, to throw up breastworks, to live in camps, but to find the enemy and strike him; to invade his country, and do him all possible damage in the shortest possible time. This will involve great destruction of life and property while it lasts; but such a war will of necessity be of brief continuance, and so would be an economy of life and property in the end. To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure all the fruits of victory is the secret of successful war.
  • Through the broad extent of country over which you have marched by your respect for the rights and property of citizens, you have shown that you were soldiers not only to defend but able and willing to defend and protect.
    • As quoted in Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants : A History of Frederick County, Virginia (illustrated) from its formation in 1738 to 1908 (1989) by T. K. Cartmell, p. 322
  • Once you get them running, you stay right on top of them, and that way a small force can defeat a large one every time.
    • As quoted in The Civil War : An Illustrated History (1990) by Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns, and Ric Burns, p. 272

Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson (1891)[edit]

Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson) (1891) by Mary Anna Jackson PDF at Google Books
  • My duty is to obey orders.
    • Ch. 4 : The War with Mexico — 1846 - 1848, p. 45
  • We must make this campaign an exceedingly active one. Only thus can a weaker country cope with a stronger; it must make up in activity what it lacks in strength. A defensive campaign can only be made successful by taking the aggressive at the proper time. Napoleon never waited for his adversary to become fully prepared, but struck him the first blow.
    • Ch. 22 : The Last Happy Days — Chancellorsville — 1863, p. 429


Misattributed[edit]

  • Duty is ours; consequences are God's.
    • Though this was a favorite motto of Jackson, and reported as among his last words, it did not originate with him, and was used by others at least as early as in a speech by abolitionist John Jay (8 October 1856)
  • Be content and resigned to God's will.
  • Easy, Mr. Pendleton. Easy. Good to have your dander up, but it’s discipline that wins the day.
    • These were lines in the film Gods And Generals (2003); they are not actual quotations of Jackson.

Jackson's personal book of maxims[edit]

This was a book of statements by others which Jackson had copied into a small book for his own use; published in Ch. 3 of Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by His Widow Mary Anna Jackson (1895) they are sometimes quoted as statements by Jackson.
  • You may be whatever you resolve to be.
  • Through life let your principal object be the discharge of duty.
  • Disregard public opinion when it interferes with your duty.
  • Endeavor to be at peace with all men.
  • Sacrifice your life rather than your word.
  • Endeavor to do well with everything you undertake.
  • Never speak disrespectfully of anyone without a cause.
  • Spare no effort to suppress selfishness, unless that effort would entail sorrow.
  • Let your conduct towards men have some uniformity.
  • Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • Speak but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself ; waste nothing.
  • Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off unnecessary actions.
  • Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • Wrong no man by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries as much as you think they deserve.
  • Be not disturbed at trifles, nor at accidents, common or unavoidable.
  • It is man's highest interest not to violate, or attempt to violate, the rules which Infinite Wisdom has laid down. The means by which men are to attain great elevation may be classed in three divisions — physical, mental, and moral. Whatever relates to health, belongs to the first; whatever relates to the improvement of the mind, belongs to the second. The formation of good manners and virtuous habits constitutes the third.
  • A man is known by the company he keeps.
  • Good-breeding, or true politeness, is the art of showing men by external signs the internal regard we have for them. It arises from good sense, improved by good company. It must be acquired by practice and not by books.
  • Be kind, condescending, and affable. Any one who has anything to say to a fellow-being, to say it with kind feelings and sincere desire to please; and this, whenever it is done, will atone for much awkwardness in the manner of expression.
  • Good-breeding is opposed to selfishness, vanity, or pride. Never weary your company by talking too long or too frequently.
  • Always look people in the face when addressing them, and generally when they address you.
  • Never engross the whole conversation to yourself. Say as little of yourself and friends as possible.
  • Make it a rule never to accuse without due consideration any body or association of men.

Quotes about Jackson[edit]

His nature was essentially aggressive. He was never more to be feared than when he was retreating, and where others thought only of strong defensive positions he looked persistently for the opportunity to attack. ~ George Francis Robert Henderson
  • There stands Jackson like a stone wall — rally round the Virginians!
  • There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians.
      • As quoted in Lee's Lieutenants : A Study in Command (1946) by Douglas S. Freeman, Vol. 1, p. 82
    • Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall, let's go to his assistance.
      • As quoted in Stonewall : A Biography of General Thomas J. Jackson (1993) by Byron Farwell, p. 180
    • Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall. … Rally round the Virginians.
      • As quoted in What They Didn't Teach You About the Civil War (1998) by Mike Wright
    • There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally round the Virginians!
      • As quoted in Chancellorsville, 1863: Jackson's Lighting Strike (1998) by Carl Smith, p. 18
    • Rally around the Virginians, there stands Jackson like a stone wall.
      • As quoted in 25 Best Civil War Sites (2005) by Clint Johnson, Site 6 : Manassas
  • Jackson fought for the constitutional rights of the South, and any one who imagines he fought for slavery knows nothing of Jackson.
    • William C. Chase in Story of Stonewall Jackson : A Narrative of the Career of Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson (1901), p. 203
  • It cannot well be denied that Jackson possessed every single attribute which makes for success in war. Morally and physically he was absolutely fearless. He accepted responsibility with the same equanimity that he faced the bullets of the enemy. He permitted no obstacle to turn him aside from his appointed path, and in seizing an opportunity or in following up a victory he was the very incarnation of untiring energy. … A supreme activity, both of brain and body, was a prominent characteristic of his military life. His idea of strategy was to secure the initiative, however inferior his force; to create opportunities and to utilise them; to waste no time, and to give the enemy no rest. ...That he felt to the full the fascination of war's tremendous game we can hardly doubt. Not only did he derive, as all true soldiers must, an intense intellectual pleasure from handling his troops in battle so as to outwit and defeat his adversary, but from the day he first smelt powder in Mexico until he led that astonishing charge through the dark depths of the Wilderness his spirits never rose higher than when danger and death were rife about him. With all his gentleness there was much of the old Berserker about Stonewall Jackson, not indeed the lust for blood, but the longing to do doughtily and die bravely, as best becomes a man. His nature was essentially aggressive. He was never more to be feared than when he was retreating, and where others thought only of strong defensive positions he looked persistently for the opportunity to attack.
  • Jackson neither apologized for nor spoke in favor of the practice of slavery. He probably opposed the institution. Yet in his mind the Creator had sanctioned slavery, and man had no moral right to challenge its existence. The good Christian slaveholder was one who treated his servants fairly and humanely at all times.
    • James I. Robertson in Stonewall Jackson : The Man, The Soldier, The Legend (1997)
  • "You are better off than I am , for while you have lost your left (arm), I have lost my right arm."
    • General Lee wrote this in a letter to Jackson shortly before Jackson died. Lee was referring to Jackson as his right arm.

(The Oxford Dictionary of Civil War Quotations, 2006)

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