We have a page on Abraham Lincoln’s early life in Kentucky, so it seems appropriate to also have a page on the early life of a figure from the Confederate side of the Civil War. General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson gained his nickname when he was a Colonel at the First Battle of Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia on July 21, 1861. Confederate Brigadier General Barnard Bee is reputed to have exhorted his men to reform their line by shouting ‘There is Jackson standing like a stone wall’. Bee died in the battle, so exactly what he said and meant has never been verified. Jackson earned lasting fame for his leadership of Confederate forces in subsequent battles, particularly the Valley Campaign of 1862. He did not survive the Civil War; during the Battle of Chancellorsville he was shot in error by Confederate guards when returning to camp after dark. He was badly wounded and died of pneumonia on May 10, 1863.
Jackson's Mill & McWhorter Cabin, near Weston
Thomas and his sister Laura Ann were sent to live with their uncle, Cummins Jackson, who owned a grist mill known as Jackson's Mill near Weston. Their elder brother was sent to live with other relatives but died in 1841.Thomas and Laura Ann lived at Jacksons Mill for four years before they both moved on to live with different relatives. The cabin in which they lived has gone, but the cabin on the right of the picture is the one that was built by Henry McWhorter, who sold the mill to Cummins’ father Edward. The white building in the picture is the original mill which is now a museum.
Stonewall Jackson's birthplace, Clarksburg
Thomas Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia on January 21, 1824. His father Jonathan died of typhoid fever when Thomas was two. His mother Julia had to sell family possessions to clear debts and work as a seamstress and in a school to support herself and her three children. In 1830 Julia remarried, but her new husband did not get on with her children, so her three children were sent away to live with various relatives. Julia died in 1831 of complications arising from childbirth. The house in Clarksburg where Thomas Jackson was born has long gone, but the place where it it stood on Main Street has a plaque commemorating his birth. Jackson’s childhood is indicative of the way that the Civil War split the nation. While he was committed to the Confederate cause, the part of Virginia where he was born and brought up broke away to form West Virginia because many people there did not support that cause.
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Interior of Blaker's Mill, Jackson's Mill, near Weston
Although Jackson’s Mill is now a museum, there is a working mill on the site. Blaker’s Mill is a Grist Mill that was moved to the site from Greenbrier County. When we visited in April 2001 it was being prepared for the new season. The historical buildings are now owned by the West Virginia University which operates a conference centre on the site.
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