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Stonewall: A Biography of General Thomas J. Jackson

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The charismatic Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, who began his military career in the Mexican War, earned his great fame in the Civil War in a series of brilliantly fought battles. He was given the name Stonewall at the First Battle of Bull Run, when his brigade faced overwhelming odds but held the line. Byron Farwell's engrossing narrative reveals Stonewall Jackson The charismatic Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, who began his military career in the Mexican War, earned his great fame in the Civil War in a series of brilliantly fought battles. He was given the name Stonewall at the First Battle of Bull Run, when his brigade faced overwhelming odds but held the line. Byron Farwell's engrossing narrative reveals Stonewall Jackson both as a military genius and as a quirky, dark personality radically different from the storybook version that grew up after Jackson's untimely death at Chancellorsville in 1863.


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The charismatic Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, who began his military career in the Mexican War, earned his great fame in the Civil War in a series of brilliantly fought battles. He was given the name Stonewall at the First Battle of Bull Run, when his brigade faced overwhelming odds but held the line. Byron Farwell's engrossing narrative reveals Stonewall Jackson The charismatic Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, who began his military career in the Mexican War, earned his great fame in the Civil War in a series of brilliantly fought battles. He was given the name Stonewall at the First Battle of Bull Run, when his brigade faced overwhelming odds but held the line. Byron Farwell's engrossing narrative reveals Stonewall Jackson both as a military genius and as a quirky, dark personality radically different from the storybook version that grew up after Jackson's untimely death at Chancellorsville in 1863.

30 review for Stonewall: A Biography of General Thomas J. Jackson

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hiebner

    A fair biography of General Jackson. The author does a good job of presenting the personal side of Jackson, the family man, the teacher, and the general. While Jackson was a dismal teacher at VMI, he became a daring general who drove his men hard. He was not a personable man, often a jerk with the people around him. He didn’t share plans, kept his own staff in the dark during campaigns but got the job done. The author seems to have a good grasp of the Civil War and the action on both sides. Jack A fair biography of General Jackson. The author does a good job of presenting the personal side of Jackson, the family man, the teacher, and the general. While Jackson was a dismal teacher at VMI, he became a daring general who drove his men hard. He was not a personable man, often a jerk with the people around him. He didn’t share plans, kept his own staff in the dark during campaigns but got the job done. The author seems to have a good grasp of the Civil War and the action on both sides. Jackson was feared by the enemy and while not necessarily liked by his men, they did admire him for what he and they accomplished.The outstanding part of Jackson is that he was a devout Christian, very religious and not afraid to die. His last words came from the book of Psalms, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Ironically, the allegedly the final words of Robert E. Lee as well although he did not know that these were the final words of General Jackson.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Nagy

    It is a long, somewhat dry read at times as this not only covers the Civil War, but how Thomas Jackson grew up, where he really stood on slavery, and even delves in his battle plans. It is a treasure trove of history. Even told how much and why he hated being called "Stonewall". It is a long, somewhat dry read at times as this not only covers the Civil War, but how Thomas Jackson grew up, where he really stood on slavery, and even delves in his battle plans. It is a treasure trove of history. Even told how much and why he hated being called "Stonewall".

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pete Hale

    Easily the worst of the current Civil War bios I've read. The author is apparently convinced that everything about Stonewall's life was fake, evidently drawn up by cultists or Lost Causers. He contends that he never said any of those maxims (the "You are what you choose to be" or whatever is apparently stolen from a "lost" book he read at West Point. What?), that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child (absolutely no comment), and that even his eyecolor wasn't blue. So why was he called "old blue li Easily the worst of the current Civil War bios I've read. The author is apparently convinced that everything about Stonewall's life was fake, evidently drawn up by cultists or Lost Causers. He contends that he never said any of those maxims (the "You are what you choose to be" or whatever is apparently stolen from a "lost" book he read at West Point. What?), that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child (absolutely no comment), and that even his eyecolor wasn't blue. So why was he called "old blue light" again? And he does this is a cynical, why-does-anybody-like-this-dope manner. He does make one convincing case against the "lemon-sucking" thing, though. The book is also void of notes, so where he got these ideas is beyond me. Never has lack of documentation been a problem until the author does something as strange as this. I believe Farwell had read The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society and decided to apply revisionism to Stonewall, but how crazy can one get?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Byron Farwell's Stonewall, A Biography of General Thomas J Jackson brings the Civil War general out of the realm of high school history and myth and into human scale. Even so, Stonewall Jackson has outsized, contradictory and quirky characteristics that make his story engrossing and engaging. He had real military genius, yet also succeeded many times because of good fortune, or the will of God as he saw it. He listened carefully yet said very little (ok, he did have terrible hearing) and remaine Byron Farwell's Stonewall, A Biography of General Thomas J Jackson brings the Civil War general out of the realm of high school history and myth and into human scale. Even so, Stonewall Jackson has outsized, contradictory and quirky characteristics that make his story engrossing and engaging. He had real military genius, yet also succeeded many times because of good fortune, or the will of God as he saw it. He listened carefully yet said very little (ok, he did have terrible hearing) and remained very secretive. He often kept his own immediate circle of commanders in the dark about immediate plans and quarrelled fiercely with many who didn't deserve it. And yet he inspired strong loyalty, discipline and follow-through, from other commanders and the ranks. His letters back to his wife Anna mix battlefield results with touching terms of endearment -- as well as frequent reminders of their tithe to their church. He led tens of thousands into battle and many to death and debilitating injury yet sought to avoid fighting or even marching on the Sabbath. He fought for the South, yet in the 1850s on his own time while teaching at Virginia Military Institute, opened and personally taught in an almost unique free school for the children of slaves. Hard to gauge his own views on slavery outside of his strong fatalistic religiosity. To the end, I found him full of unexpected qualities, hard to fully grasp. I don't read a lot of history or biography these days, and I had very personal reasons for picking this book up. I am really glad I did. Many contemporary books review the politics of the Civil War and its immense social context. Yes, Lincoln, Stanton, Jefferson Davis and other political leaders figure in the book. Mostly, you find portraits of the commanders, on both sides. And Farwell effectively blends in many, many letter excerpts from soldiers in the ranks back to their families about battles and what went on--both the fighting itself as well as the lack of boots, food, warm clothes, adequate health facilities and more. From looking at the war at ground level, I also found fascinating and certainly scary to realize how much the result of the war apparently shifted back and forth, and perhaps could have gone a different way. Jackson's story ends in 1863, when he died, before the effects of Emancipation. You really have a sense of the limitations of the North's effectiveness short of what W.E.B. DuBois described way back as the social revolution that won the war. Maybe I knew this back then, maybe you read more of this history, and if not, yup, an eye-opener. Even Jackson's death in 1863 has that feel to it. He had just reached a new peak of leadership, helping guide the South's kind of amazing victory at Chancellorsville. Immediately after, and not during the fighting, he got hit by friendly fire. And even then, he probably would have recovered, if not from complications of rough transport. And that emergency transportation reflected sudden fears of federal attack based what turned out to be faulty intelligence. The war had endless elements of chance of that sort. To really appreciate how soldiers lived and died, the insanity and destructiveness of war, and the qualities it takes to lead under those circumstances, I strongly recommend this book. And to the memory of R.M., who recommended the book to me, I will close with Jackson's own last words, shared with his wife and close associates, "let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Stonewall by Byron Farwell does a superb job of capturing one of the confederacy’s great heroes and one of the most impressive generals of the Civil War. Any military commander will always have luck to make them great and it is what they do with that luck that defines them. Stonewall Jackson was one who pursued his enemy whenever the chance availed and was the most aggressive of Lee’s generals. Born in Appalachia of a lower income family he was not the stereotypical confederate general. After at Stonewall by Byron Farwell does a superb job of capturing one of the confederacy’s great heroes and one of the most impressive generals of the Civil War. Any military commander will always have luck to make them great and it is what they do with that luck that defines them. Stonewall Jackson was one who pursued his enemy whenever the chance availed and was the most aggressive of Lee’s generals. Born in Appalachia of a lower income family he was not the stereotypical confederate general. After attending west point and fighting in Mexico he turned to religion and was a strong believer throughout his life crediting his success on the battlefield to God and being unafraid of battle as the lord had fixed the time he was to die and he was not going to worry about it. Between Mexico and the Civil War he served as professor of chemistry and artillery at the Virginia Military Institute where he was largely a ridiculed and boring faculty member. During the Civil War though his skill at Manassas, the Shenandoah Valley and Chancellorsville would put him in the pantheon of Confederate war heroes. Killed by friendly fire and a great loss to Lee it set up the question of would Gettysburg had been any different with Stonewall still around. Regardless of the suppositions this is a great biography about a complicated historical figure and done very well. A must read for those interested in military or civil war history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    1alacavusv

    Jackson does not fit the stereotype of the aristocratic confederate general. Jackson was from Appalachian Virginia, the part that seceded and became West Virginia. True to his roots he was a man of simple tastes, few words, devout faith, and a stoic tempersment. He taught chemistry at VMI, where he was known as the most absent-minded and boring of all professors. Although he was a mediocrity in peacetime, war brought out his genius in tactics, logisti0cs and motivation. More than a Southern icon, Jackson does not fit the stereotype of the aristocratic confederate general. Jackson was from Appalachian Virginia, the part that seceded and became West Virginia. True to his roots he was a man of simple tastes, few words, devout faith, and a stoic tempersment. He taught chemistry at VMI, where he was known as the most absent-minded and boring of all professors. Although he was a mediocrity in peacetime, war brought out his genius in tactics, logisti0cs and motivation. More than a Southern icon, hius value to military science is universal. Jackson's model of generalship has been emulated by Rommel, Patton, and many other disciples. Jackson was a great believer in pursuing a beaten foe, and he was a master of the fighting retreat.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mad Dog

    This is the Stonewall biography that is 'more negative than most', but I still came away from this book a big Stonewall fan. This is the Stonewall biography that is 'more negative than most', but I still came away from this book a big Stonewall fan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Briggs

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deborah f Tweten

  10. 5 out of 5

    Walker Humphries

  11. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Tanel

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joe Ledbetter

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rene

  16. 5 out of 5

    ~*amy N

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Pait

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Nemchenko

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dennis O'Daniel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Morrell

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt Harris

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bo

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joey

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brig

  28. 5 out of 5

    Herbert

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deejay Wednesday

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