Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson (January 21st, 1824 – May 10th 1863) served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and became one of the best known Confederate commanders after General Robert E. Lee. Jackson was to play a prominent role in nearly all military engagements in the Eastern Theatre of the War until his death, and had a key part in winning many significant battles.
Jackson rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) on July 21st 1861. As the Confederate lines began to crumble under heavy Union assault, Jackson’s brigade provided crucial reinforcements on Henry House Hill, demonstrating the discipline he had instilled in his men. Although under heavy fire for several continuous hours, Jackson received a wound breaking the middle finger of his left hand, about midway between the hand and the knuckle, the ball passing on the side next to the index finger.
The troops of South Carolina commanded by Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. had been overwhelmed, and he rode up to Jackson in despair, exclaiming, “They are beating us back!”. Jackson replied “Then, we will give them the bayonet!” As he rode back to his command, Bee exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!”
Jackson’s brigade, which would from then on be known as the “Stonewall Brigade”, stopped the Union assault and suffered more casualties than any other Southern Brigade that day.
After the battle Jackson was promoted to Major General and given command of the Valley District with its headquarters in Winchester.