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The Source: Stonewall Jackson, Can A Rebel Be Separated From His Cause?

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Stonewall Jackson is a key figure in US history. The Confederate general is famous for his strict tactics, bold military procedures, and legacy that still survives today.

Historian and author S. C. Gwynne says Stonewall Jackson is also more complicated than his simple claim to fame. Though a successful general, Jackson was much less accomplished before the war. Prior to his military career, Jackson was a failed businessman and notoriously bad physics professor. Despite these early struggles, Jackson was transformed by the war and gained both rank and infamy in the Southern army.

His well-known, stern personality also may not be as straightforward as commonly thought. Though Jackson led the charge to protect slavery and was a slave owner himself, he also illegally taught his own slaves to read. Additionally, some accounts show his slaves were often bought as acts of charity. One slave was bought so he could earn his own freedom and a mentally handicapped slave was protected by the Jackson family.

The legacy of Stonewall Jackson raises interesting questions. Can the man be separated from the cause? And is Jackson a military hero or an American traitor? 


  • S. C. Gwynne, historian and author of Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. 
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