Stonewall Jackson : portrait of a soldier New York : Morrow, c 1989 John Bowers Confederate States of America. Army Biography, Jackson, Stonewall, 1824-1863 Hardcover. 367 p.,  p. of plates : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
We know him as Stonewall — a symbol of stubborn resistance. To his men he was Old Jack, a stern yet tenderhearted leader, someone who led his soldiers on quick thirty-mile marches and then stood guard over them while they slept. He shot deserters without qualm. Old Blue Light, as he was also known, believed fervently in the Bible and served as a Presbyterian deacon. After the unholy righting at First Manassas, one of his first communiques went to his church in Lexington. In the heat of battle, he had forgotten to send his contribution to the Colored Sunday School (which he had founded) and enclosed a check.
On the one hand simple and straightforward, on the other secretive and mystifying (where, for instance, did his perpetual supply of lemons come from?), Thomas Jonathan Jackson was, more than anything else, deeply and everlastingly American. John Bowers, himself a Southerner whose grandfather and great-uncles fought on opposing sides in Tennessee during the Civil War, presents Jackson in the round, as flesh and blood, someone who struck terror in the Union forces and who stood tall as a hero in the South when all else turned bleak.
Relying on letters, diaries, memoirs, and eyewitness accounts, Bowers deftly and artfully unravels Jackson’s puzzling character — his orphaned childhood on a frontier farm, where he was raised by a rambunctious bachelor uncle; his career at West Point; his experiences in the Mexican War with many of the future generals on both sides of the Civil War; his two marriages; and his stint as an improbable professor at V.M.I., where he couldn’t control a classroom of twenty (his students dubbed him Tom Fool).
And finally, in the heart of this book Bowers relives the Civil War with Jackson and the colorful cast around him — exotic Turner Ashby, Dick Taylor (son of U.S. President Zachary Taylor), birdlike Richard Ewell, and the cavalier Henry Kyd Douglas. Bowers’s brilliantly evoked battles break forth as if for the first time, and his compelling narrative speaks to the history buff as well as to those unfamiliar with Jackson’s saga.
Here at last is a fully rounded portrait of the military genius studied by both Rommel and Patton in World War II, a general who, in the beginning, was spat at and cursed by his men and who ended as perhaps the most adored commander in the Confederacy, if not in American history. Bowers shows us the complete strategist but also the little-known Jackson who called his beloved wife Anna “My esposita.” Stonewall Jackson is fascinating reading for anyone interested in how heroes are made and history evolves.