navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson 1824–1863
Civil War General

People who knew Thomas Jackson when he was a boy in present-day West Virginia might have described him as hard-working, serious, and tough. He had to be. Jackson grew up in a family troubled by poverty. He was sent to live with stern relatives when his family could not care for him. He started working when he was 16.

That same year, Jackson was accepted to West Point military academy. He did not have as much education as his classmates, but made up for that with hours of study.

Jackson brought his willingness to work hard to his military career. He became a major in the Mexican War. He is remembered today, however, as a strong and tough Confederate general in the Civil War.

Jackson led the Shenandoah Valley campaigns and guided soldiers at Manassas and Chancellorsville. He was known for his calmness on the battlefield. He earned his nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run. A fellow general told his troops, “Look! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians.” When Jackson died in battle, General Robert E. Lee said that he had lost his “right arm.”

Comprehension Check

Why is Jackson remembered today?

Critical Thinking

In what way did Jackson's personality make him a good general?