Stonewall Jackson: Popular Questions
The VMI Archives staff receives many inquiries every year concerning various aspects of Stonewall Jackson's life and death. This page includes answers to the most popular questions. Have a question not answered here? For additional information, contact the VMI Archives.
Where did Jackson die? Where is Jackson's gravesite? Where is his amputated arm buried?
What are some famous Jackson quotations? Which phrase is inscribed on the VMI Barracks?
Jackson died on May 10, 1863, at a field hospital near Guiney Station, VA, approximately 30 miles from the battlefield at Chancellorsville. The hospital was located in an office building on the estate of Thomas and Mary Chandler. Jackson's body was returned to Lexington, Virginia, for burial. He had spent almost ten years in the town while he was a Professor at the Virginia Military Institute. The funeral took place on May 15, 1863. He was buried in what is now known as the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, located on Main Street. The gravesite is today a popular tourist attraction.
Jackson's amputated arm was buried by the Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy in his family burial plot at "Ellwood," the Lacy family estate (15 miles west of Fredericksburg) that was located about one mile from the field hospital where Jackson was initially treated. The land is now owned by the National Park Service and there is a marker noting the location of the arm.
For additional full-text information about this topic, see our page concerning his death and funeral.
Who shot General Jackson?
Jackson died as a result of "friendly fire." He was shot at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, by an unknown member or members of the 18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment; he died on May 10th. The order to fire was given by Maj. John D. Barry, and many of his men fired at the same time. Jackson was struck by three smoothbore musket balls. Barry died two years after the war at the age of 27; his family believed his death was a result of the depression and guilt he suffered as a consequence of having given the order to fire.
How did Jackson acquire the nickname "Stonewall"?
This famous nickname was first given to Jackson by General Bernard Bee on the battlefield at First Manassas on July 21, 1861. It refers to Jackson's steadfastness in the face of the enemy. Jackson's demeanor inspired Bee (a friend from Jackson's years at West Point) to shout to his troops, "Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer!"
Jackson's troops also referred to him as "Old Jack."
What was the name of Jackson's horse? (View Photo 1 Photo 2 )
In the spring of 1861, while he was in command at Harper's Ferry, Jackson acquired the horse that he rode throughout the war. Although the horse was originally purchased by Jackson as a gift for his wife and initially named "Fancy," this name was short-lived. Jackson decided to keep the horse, and it was universally known as "Little Sorrel." Described as small (approximately 15 hands) and gaunt, but with remarkable powers of endurance, Little Sorrel remained Jackson's favorite and he was riding this horse when he was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville. After the war, Little Sorrel first returned to North Carolina with Mrs. Jackson, and subsequently was sent to VMI, where he grazed on the VMI Parade Ground and was a favorite of cadets. He died in March 1886, at the age of 36, and his mounted hide is now on display in the VMI Museum in Lexington, Virginia. Little Sorrel's bones were cremated and interred on the grounds of VMI in 1997.
Is it true that Jackson loved lemons?
Jackson was very concerned about his health and followed a strict diet which emphasized fruits and vegetables. Although he enjoyed almost every variety of fruit, he had no special fondness for lemons; in fact, peaches were his favorite. Civil War historian James I. Robertson, Jr., Jackson's biographer, states that "no member of Jackson's staff, no friend, not even his wife ever mentioned Jackson had a particular penchant for lemons," and refers to the "lemon myth." It is true that Jackson was observed eating lemons on several occasions during the war; this was due only to the fact that he ate whatever fruit was available. When the Confederates captured a Union camp, lemons were sometimes among the food stores that they confiscated; the Union soldiers received lemons and other fruits more frequently than did their Confederate counterparts. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the story remains popular. Tourists who visit Jackson's gravesite at Lexington, Virginia, often leave lemons as a tribute.
Did Jackson marry? Did he have any children?
Jackson married twice. On August 4, 1853, Jackson married Elinor Junkin (1825-1854), daughter of Dr. George Junkin (President of Washington College) and Julia Miller Junkin. Elinor (Ellie) died in childbirth on October 22, 1854. Their child, a son, was stillborn. On July 16, 1857, Jackson married for the second time: Mary Anna Morrison (1831-1915), daughter of Robert Hall Morrison and Mary Graham Morrison. Mary Anna's family resided in North Carolina; her father was the retired President of Davidson College. Mary Anna gave birth to a daughter, Mary Graham, on April 30, 1858; the baby died less than a month later. In November 1862, Mary Anna again bore a daughter, Julia Laura, the only Jackson child to survive into adulthood. She married William E. Christian in 1885 and she died of typhoid fever in 1889, at age 26. Her children were Julia Jackson Christian (1887-1991), who married Edmund R. Preston; and Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian (1888-1952), who married three times. Both of Jackson's grandchildren had several children; thus there are many living descendants of Stonewall Jackson.
More genealogical information is available online.
What did Jackson teach? Was he popular with his students?
Jackson taught at the Virginia Military Institute from August 1851 until the outbreak of Civil War in April 1861. He was responsible for the Department of Natural Philosophy (in modern terms, roughly equivalent to Physics; it included astronomy, mechanics, acoustics, optics, and other sciences) and also instructed and drilled the cadets in artillery tactics. He was neither popular with cadets, many of whom ridiculed and disliked him, nor considered to be a particularly able teacher. For additional full text information about this topic, see our Stonewall Jackson at VMI page.
"You may be whatever you resolve to be"
These words are inscribed over the Jackson Arch entrance to the present-day VMI Barracks. During his years as West Point cadet, Jackson began keeping a notebook in which he jotted down inspirational phrases that he believed would aid him in the development of his character and intellect. He continued to add to this book throughout the 1850's. Jackson was not (and never claimed to be) the author of most of these maxims; rather, he collected ideas and phrases from the books he read. This particular principle is attributed to the Reverend Joel Hawes and first appeared in an 1851 work, Letters to Young Men, on the Formation of Character & c. Jackson's original notebook is located in the George and Catherine Davis Collection at Tulane University.
"The Institute will be heard from today"
These words were spoken by Jackson on the battlefield at Chancellorsville, VA, shortly before 5 p.m. on May 2, 1863. Ready for battle, he was surrounded by former students and colleagues from his years at the Virginia Military Institute; they were now his officers and comrades-in-arms. Overcome by emotion, Jackson said, "the Institute will be heard from today." A few hours later, Jackson received what would prove to be a fatal wound. This quotation is today inscribed on the base of the Jackson Statue located on the grounds of VMI. For those interested in trivia--the words on the statue ("the Virginia Military Institute will be heard from today") are inaccurate; Jackson said only "the Institute...." The date inscribed on the statue is also incorrect; it says May 3, rather than the correct date, May 2.
"Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."
These were Jackson's final words, spoken on his deathbed on May 10, 1863. Civil War historian James I. Robertson, Jr., author of the widely acclaimed 1997 biography of Jackson, has provided one possible interpretation--- that as he lay dying, Jackson may have envisioned scenes from his beloved boyhood home at Jackson's Mill, West Virginia.