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Thomas Jonathan Jackson was a great Confederate general that a big part of the American Civil War, and he was one of the best known Confederate commander after Superior general Robert E. Lee. Jackson was born on January 21, 1824 in Clarksburg, West Virginia. His father was a lawyer and his name was Jonathan Jackson, and his mother Julia Beckwith Neale which had four children, Jonathan was the third kid that was born. When he was 2 his father and his older sister were killed by typhoid fever. His mother struggled to make ends meet since she was an only mother. In 1830 his mother married Blake Woodson, who did not care for his new step children. Their mother died of bad health and so they went to live with their half-uncle Cummins Jackson who owned a grist mill. There older brother Warren went a different way and went to live with relatives on their mother’s side, but later died of tuberculosis.
Cummins Jackson was strict with Thomas, Jackson looked up to Cummins as a schoolhouse teacher. Jackson was a good helper around the farm, tending to sheep with the assistance of a sheepdog, driving herds of oxen and helping harvest wheat and corn. Formal teaching was not easily to obtained, but he attended school whenever and wherever he could. Most of the education Jackson had was self-taught. He once shuffled a deal with one of his uncle’s slaves, to give him pine knots in order to get reading lessons. Thomas would stay up at night and read borrowed books using the pine knots for lighting. In Virginia there was a law on giving education to a slave. Even though it was against the law Jackson secretly taught the slave, as he had promised. When he became literate, the slave fled to Canada using the Underground Railroad.
In his later years at the Jackson’s Mill, Thomas was a school instructor. Then he was given an appointment, in 1842, for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After a pretty slow start, he graduated 17th in his class and was a second lieutenant assigned to artillery. He joined his regiment in Mexico, where the United States was at war. He first met General Robert E. Lee during the Mexican War, who later became the commanding general of the Confederate armies, and it was there that Jackson first revealed the qualities he had and which he later became famous. The ability to keep his head, and bravery in the face of enemy fire was resourceful. At the end of the fighting in Mexico, he was promoted to first lieutenant and the brevet rank of major, he was then assigned to the occupation forces in Mexico City. Finding service in the peacetime army tedious, he resigned from his commission and became a professor in artillery tactics and natural philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute in 1851.
Though he worked hard at his new duties, he never became a very popular or highly successful teacher. As a stern and shy man, he earned a reputation for eccentricity that followed him all the way to the end of his career. With his strong sense of duty and his moral righteousness, along with great devotion to the education of cadets, earned him the derisive title “Deacon Jackson” and he was compared with Oliver Cromwell. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he had offered his services to the state of Virginia and was ordered to bring his VMI cadets from Lexington to Richmond. Very soon after, he was given a commission as colonel in the state forces of Virginia and was then charged with organizing unpaid workers into an effective Confederate army brigade, this rapidly gained him fame and also advancement. He was introduced to Anna by her sister Isabella. Jackson had recently accepted a teaching position at a nearby Virginia Military Institute.
In 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin, the daughter of Washington College’s president, Dr. George Junkin. She died by childbirth the next October. Around Christmas 1856, Jackson and Anna married in the front the parlor of Cottage Home on July 16, 1857.They had bought a brick house on East Washington Street in Lexington, and that’s where they lived from 1858 to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Their first daughter, Mary Graham Jackson, sadly died in infancy in 1858, but their second child, Julia Laura, was born in Charlotte on November 23, 1862, right before the Battle of Fredericksburg. Then Jackson died on May 10, 1863 Guinea, Virginia. The cause of his death was Pneumonia. Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men, which is friendly fire, during the Battle of Chancellorsville and then he died just a few days later.
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