[CIVIL WAR]. JACKSON, Thomas. General, Confederate States of America Autograph letter signed ("T J Jackson") to an unnamed recipient, "Headquarters, First Brigade, Camp Stephens near Martinsburg", 29 June 1861. 1 page, 4to, left margin reinforced with paper, otherwise fine.
JACKSON DISCUSSES HIS COMMAND, LESS THAN A MONTH BEFORE FIRST MANASSAS.
A excellent early war-date letter, written less than a month before Jackson's valor earned him the title "Stonewall" at the First Battle of Manassas. Jackson had received a commission from Governor Letcher and was in command of a brigade of newly enlisted Virginia infantry. Here, he writes to a neighbor in Lexington: "Mrs. Jackson told me that you had the kindness to offer to take care of my wheat and oats, if I would but indicate how I desired it should be done. I don't know whether it is worth gathering: but if so, please dispose of it as though it were your own." Jackson, showing an uncharacteristic knowledge of agriculture for a VMI professor, explains "One of the principal objects of sowing the wheat and oats, was to get the ground set in clover."
Jackson gives a brief but intimate portrait of the condition of his command: "I am at present in command of the 1st Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah, and am on the road leading from Martinsburg to Williamsport, and about 4 miles from Md. The Brigade is composed entirely of Virginia forces. I have seen Paxton, Letcher, and Lewis within the last 24 hours in usual & Paxton in more than usual health. Capt. Pendleton and his command are doing well. Letcher's company has some sickness in it." Elisha Paxton, mentioned here, would emerge as commander of the brigade, only to be killed at Chancellorsville, while William Pendleton, a reverend from Lexington, would earn distinction as Lee's Chief of Artillery.
Jackson's appointment as commander initially provoked concern due to his stern manner and strict discipline but his rigorous drilling of the brigade earned him respect and created an elite fighting force. The heroic stand of his men upon Henry House Hill at the First Battle of Manassas proved his ability on the battlefield and earned for him (and his brigade) the nickname "Stonewall." The Stonewall Brigade suffered high casualties and fought with great distinction through the war, even after Jackson's unfortunate death at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863.