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Please tell him

October 14, 2011

One of the most astute professors in the United States once observed to me that “Stonewall” Jackson might possibly be the greatest American.  It is hard to argue against him.

There’s no challenging Jackson’s American character.  America in the European sense was founded by fanatics, the same people who ferociously opposed the lilt and ambiguity of Elizabethan culture.  “The people who banned Shakespeare,” as Jonathan Bowden critically but respectfully terms them.  Within that folk current Jackson had his single-minded absolute fundamentalist drive personally seared into his being through an early blight of tragedy and hardship–a path through life had yielded extreme scenes of childhood poverty as well as premature death among parents, first wife, and child.

He shared qualities with Melville’s Ahab yet felt the Christian God’s love deeply.  He was not reluctant to express a bounty of redeeming happiness and warmth.  The giddy young children of his hosts in Winchester delighted in riding him like a horse and staging play battles.  And Jackson loved his wife–his esposita–deeply.

But Jackson’s accomplishment in brutal determination stands unmeasured.  Patton with all his studied gusto and command could not equal the real Calvinist.

It almost is inaccurate to say that Jackson led an army during the Valley campaign unless one takes leadership in its most pure and brutal sense.  Jackson himself alone drove a manic chase after the Federal army–his soldiers and staff merely struggled to follow.

When Jackson observed the retreating Federal train from a hill overlooking Middletown, Virginia, his reaction was seamless.  He called the artillery and bombed men, animals, and wagons to Hell.


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