The Stoicism, Unselfishness, and Courage of
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
“. . . Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” (Bradford 346)

On January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, West Virginia, perhaps the best military mind that participated in the Civil War was born. Though his name was Thomas Jonathan Jackson, he became better known to the world as Stonewall Jackson. Because his parents died when he was three years old, Jackson grew up an orphan with his uncle. When he was old enough, Jackson went to West Point to study. Known for his religiousness, he would refuse to post a letter on the Sabbath if not utterly necessary.(Tate 63) Jackson had a very complex personality because of his early life, but he never let downfalls discourage him. He would refuse to retreat. He would attack in ways some called reckless—almost always winning. He would keep his plans from anyone but those who had to know. He was stubborn and hardheaded when he had a goal. Some people said luck caused Jackson to win his battles; others knew that Jackson won his battles because of his strong character. Indeed, he had great stoicism, unselfishness, and courage.
One character trait that made Jackson so good, as a person and a general, was the fact that he was a very stoic person. Even as a young boy, Jackson acted without regard for his personal feelings. He just acted on what he thought was right. When he was young, to make money, Jackson would catch fish and sell them. He had a working agreement with one man to sell a certain size fish for fifty-cents. One day Jackson had caught himself a whopper. As he was taking it to the man to sell, a Colonel Talbott offered to buy the prize from Jackson. When Jackson told him that the fish had already been sold for fifty cents, Talbott offered a dollar twenty-five. Most people, including this writer, probably would have taken the dollar twenty-five and run, but not Thomas. He refused to sell the fish to Talbott because he already had an agreement with another man. (Tate 3) This may not seem like much, but Thomas showed that even at an early age he could put his feelings and wishes behind him and do what was right. Because Jackson was so stoic, his men did not care for him as a person. That did not mean, though, that they did not respect him. As one soldier Lawton stated, “[Jackson’s ] soldiers obeyed him to the death . . . their respect he commanded . . ..” (38) He also said that Jackson was such a stoic person that if there was something to be done militarily then he “did not value human life.” (Patterson 38) Jackson would send his troops on seeming death marches to accomplish a goal. Jackson thought if a soldier was weak or sick then that man was not good enough to be a soldier. (Patterson 38) Jackson never showed feeling or emotions to anyone he did not have to show his emotions. Jackson was a model for anyone who desires to be a stoic person all throughout life; just look at all the respect his men gave him because he was stoic.
Another great character trait which Jackson possessed was unselfishness. This was outstanding throughout his whole life, even through death. During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America (CSA) were very low on supplies. They were unable to adequately supply all of the army’s needs. Things such as blankets were hard to come by in a Confederate camp. Since his men were freezing to death,Jackson knew he had to do something. Showing great disregard for his personal belongings, he ordered that the rugs that he had bought be taken from his house, cut into blankets, and distributed to the men in his brigade. (Tate 278) Jackson commanded a very famous brigade nicknamed the “Stonewall Brigade”. It was known far and wide as the best, fastest moving infantry unit in the Civil War. (Harris 2/23/98) One day, when asked about the success of his brigade, Jackson stated in a moment of great unselfishness, “Someday the men of that brigade will be proud to say to their children, ‘I was one of the