He had earned the nickname “Stonewall” for the steadiness of his men at the first Battle of Bull Run in 1861. He had run several Union armies ragged in the Shenandoah Valley in 1862.
In August that year, he had outfoxed another Union army at the Second Battle of Bull Run. He had bagged Harpers Ferry and withstood withering Union attacks at the Battle of Antietam in September. And he helped with the rebel victory at Fredericksburg in December.
At Chancellorsville, he had proposed to his commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee, that they split their outnumbered army. While Lee held the Yankees’ attention, Jackson would march his men quietly across the Union Army’s front, and then pounce on its right flank.
It was an audacious gamble, but Lee agreed and the plan worked. The Union army, under Gen. Joseph Hooker, was unhinged and then pummeled until it fled back across the Rappahannock River three days later.
It was one of the greatest coups of the war.
Handsome and clean-shaven as a young man, Jackson appears in an 1863 photograph as a bearded patriarch with a receding hairline. The soldiers called him “Old Jack,” though he was only 38.
A native of Clarksburg, in what is today West Virginia — about 35 miles southwest of Morgantown — he was a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Mexican War. He spoke Spanish and had traveled in Europe.
But death had already claimed his first wife and two infant children, and it informed his already deep religious faith. He saw the hand of God at work everywhere, especially on the battlefield, and sought to obey, and execute, His will in all things.
He was, however, extremely secretive, sharing his plans with few subordinates, and he became known for feuding bitterly with fellow officers when his instructions were not obeyed to the letter.
His confidants were seldom his top lieutenants. Instead, he gathered around him an unusual military “family.”
They included an extraordinary mapmaker, a top aide who was the son of an Episcopal minister, a former divinity student, his physician, a favorite clergyman, and his leased slave.
Most settled around Moss Neck for the winter, when the fighting ceased.
Jackson slept in the plantation business office with the Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy, an old friend who became his chief chaplain and would be with the general in his final hours.
Jackson’s top aide, Maj. Alexander Swift “Sandie” Pendleton, 22, bunked in with the physician, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, 27.
They slept in a tent and read Dickens and Shakespeare, and over time Pendleton became enamored of Kate Corbin.
For his part, Jackson, who adored children, became entranced by 5-year-old Jane Corbin.
She was “a sweet child . . . [with] a happy face and fair, flaxen curls,” Jackson subordinate Capt. James Power Smith, the former divinity student, recalled. “She was . . . as happy and sunny a child as I ever saw. . . . She was the general’s delight.”