General Stonewall Jackson

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General Stonewall Jackson
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Jackson, General Stonewall
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General Thomas Jackson - better known as Stonewall Jackson, a nickname he earned in the first major battle of the Civil War - was a corps commander in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He is mentioned in eight of the fictions. What Mr. Compson in Absalom! calls Jackson's "ruthless tactical skill" was demonstrated in a number of battles (223), including the 1862 campaign "in the [Shenandoah] Valley" referred to in Go Down, Moses (274), when he successfully thwarted three Union armies. His high status among the whites in Yoknapatawpha is attested to in several ways. In "The Tall Men" Mr. Gombault recalls that serving under Stonewall Jackson was so important to Old Anse McCallum that he walked all the way from Mississippi to Virginia to enlist. McCallum, like characters in three other fictions, named one of his sons "Jackson" in his honor. But one of those cases makes the legacy of Jackson a bit more problematic. The title character of "Monk" is known by that name for twenty-five years, but at his arraignment for murder he insists that his name is "Stonewall Jackson Odlethrop" (47). Gavin is sure that, mentally handicapped as he is, Monk could "never have heard of Stonewall Jackson," the famous Confederate general, and so his only explanation for Monk's pride in the name is that he "inherited [it] from the earth, the soil," that it was "transmitted to him through a self-pariahed people - something of the bitter pride and indomitable undefeat of a soil and the men and women who trod upon it and slept within it" (48). Gavin's grandiloquent prose builds a kind of monument to Stonewall, but the context in which Monk asserts his connection to that tradition makes the story's attitude toward it ambiguous. Historically, Jackson was killed in 1863 when Confederate soldiers mistakenly shot him at Chancellorsville.