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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Teachers (07/12/04)

TITLE: Standing Like A Stonewall
By Michael Aubrecht
07/14/04

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Soldier, servant, patriot, teacher…

These are just some of the words commonly used to describe one of the most revered and religious American icons in military history: General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Considered to be one of the most inspirational and eccentric of all the Confederacy’s leaders, Jackson’s legacy and life lessons have spread well beyond the battlefield - and well beyond his death. His first duty was always that of a soldier in what he referred to as “The Army of The Lord” and his reputation as both a brilliant teacher of strategy and the Word of God are still revered to this day.

A deeply religious man, Jackson had a unique talent for spreading the news of the Gospel while acting as a Deacon in the Presbyterian Church of Virginia. After graduating 17th (out of 59) in his class at West Point, he served in the Mexican War before accepting a teaching job at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in Lexington. Specializing in “Natural Physics” Jackson was personally selected by General Robert E. Lee to command the infamous “Stonewall Brigade” in the Army of Northern Virginia. Distraught over the North’s impending invasion of the South, he swore his allegiance to God first and then Virginia. Duty however, could not stifle his religious convictions.

Throughout the campaign, Jackson routinely held Bible study and hymnal sessions with the senior officers of his brigade. Despite being an “academic”, he resisted the urge to glorify war and routinely quoted “battle accounts” taken from the Bible in place of his own reports. Always eager to share his relationship with the Father, Jackson wrote letter after letter urging his countryman (and women) to actively seek repentance. One letter, written to his sister, summarized his faith:

You wish to know how to come to God; so as to have your sins forgiven, and to receive "the inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." Now my dear sister the way is plain: the savior says in Mark XVI chapter, 16th verse "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." But you may ask what is it to believe. To explain this I will quote from an able theologian, and devoted servant of God. To believe in the sense in which the word is used here, "is feeling and acting as if there were a God, a Heaven, a Hell; as if we were sinners and must die; as if we deserve eternal death, and were in danger of it. And in view of all, casting our eternal interests on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. To do this is to be a Christian."

Always a teacher, Jackson dedicated almost every waking moment (that did not require his military service) to educating the uneducated, uplifting the downtrodden and introducing those around him to the glory of God. His popularity with the troops also enabled him to reach them in ways that other men could not and he was often found praying with the wounded at their bedside. After a series of tremendous victories, the Confederacy appeared to be well on it’s way to declaring independence. However, the fortunes of war would quickly turn in the Union’s favor after the sudden and accidental death of the General they called “Stonewall”.

On May 2, 1863, during the battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson’s own men accidentally fired upon him resulting in three wounds and an amputated arm. Initially, he looked to make a full recovery, but he later developed an incurable case of pneumonia. After a few days, it was a foregone conclusion that death was drawing near. Upon hearing his prognosis, Jackson replied that he had always wanted to die on a Sunday and that, "It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven." He then asked his wife to pray for him but to always use the petition of “Thy Will Be Done.” In the end, he clearly accepted his fate as part of God’s divine plan and resolved to spend his last hours reading and teaching from the Bible.

A few moments before he died he cried out, "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action!" Then a smile of sweetness spread over his face, and he quietly spoke his last words saying, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees”; and then, without pain or the least sign of struggle, his spirit passed from this earth back to the God who gave it.


Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight07/19/04
This is an excellant entry! I'm racking my brain trying to think of a market for it. You really should persue one.
dub W07/20/04
Very well written, this should qualify for a Christian History magazine.
Michael Aubrecht07/20/04
Thank you all so much. I have to confess that I have watched my "Gods and Generals" DVD over 20 times in the last month (I did the same with Gettysburg). That movie inspired this article and I have to thank Stephen Lang for his moving portrayal of this great Christian soldier.
Mary Elder-Criss07/20/04
Wow. This would make an excellent entry in a Christian History textbook about Jackson. Most textbooks read dry and boring, but you really brought it to life. Thanks for sharing this..I'd like to use it this school year for my 4th grader. (with your permission, of course)
Michael Aubrecht07/20/04
Of course you may. Thank you so much. I actually submitted it (due to your praise and suggestions) to a Christian history magazine as well as a copy to Stephen Lang and Director Ron Maxwell.
Deborah Anderson07/21/04
I really loved this article! I'm not a big history buff, yet you had me glued to this from beginning to end. I was educated by it, while enjoying it thoroughly. This is the kind of history writing I could have learned from years ago in school!AAAAA+++++ God bless you in Jesus Name!
L.M. Lee07/21/04
One of Ted Turner's better moments is the making of the movie, God and Generals. He gives a very honest, real and respectful portrail of Jackson.

It is amazing what history teaches us. I think years from now, after this war, we will read about other great commanders who saught God's leadership.
Marcell Billinghurst07/21/04
This is an excellent tribute to a godly man.
One of the greater blessings of History. Very well done, May it be published to God's glory.
Kenny Paul Clarkson07/22/04
Interesting bit of history.

(I suppose they don't TEACH this in government schools.)

Thanks for the information!!
Deborah Porter 07/23/04
This Aussie girl is moved to tears by this beautiful and incredibly loving telling of the General's life. I had no idea. Excellent work. With love, Deb
Karen Treharne07/24/04
This is so well-written and interesting. You kept my attention throughout. I agree you should pursue a place to submit this. Thanks for sharing about this God-fearing patriot.