Stonewall Jackson Quotes

Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, 1824 – 1863

Born: 21 January 1824, Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia)
Died: 10 May 1863, Guinea Station, Virginia

Thomas Jackson’s father and sister died two years after he was born. His mother’s ill health and her second husband’s dislike of his stepchildren meant thew were raised by different family members, Thomas received very little education. At age eleven he ran away from his assigned aunt to live on Cummins Jackson’s farm, herding sheep, educating himself (while illegally teaching a slave to write), and in his last years there was a school teacher. When he started at West Point in 1842 he struggled at the bottom of his class, he graduated 17 out of 59. His classmates said that in another year he would have been first. He immediately was sent off to the Mexican-American War, during which he was the most promoted officer in the army. It was at Mexico City that he first considered religion and found a deep religious faith, becoming a Presbyterian. Although he certainly shared the general opinion that white were superior to blacks, he and his wife started a Sunday School for “coloreds” to help improve them, teaching and paying for the program himself, and on at least two occasions slaves asked him to buy them at auction knowing his fair treatment and that they could earn their way to freedom. He became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, returning to service as a drill master to raw recruits when the war started ten years later and commanding a brigade at Harpers Ferry. At the first battle of Bull Run he held his troops steady, “standing like a stone wall”. This was apparently not said in admiration, but by another general who was under attack and would have preferred Jackson depart from the plan to aid his unit, but the name stuck. He was Lee’s most trusted and most effective general until two years later when he was shot by his own forces, they didn’t recognize his party returning after dark following the Battle of Chancellorsville, a few days after this portrait was taken. His left arm was amputated but pneumonia had set in, he died in the near-by plantation office where he was taken to recuperate.

Stonewall Jackson quotes:

A defensive campaign can only be made successful by taking the aggressive at the proper time. Napoleon never waited for his adversary to become fully prepared, but struck him the first blow.
    Stonewall Jackson – Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson (1891)

All I am and all I have is at the service of my country.
    Stonewall Jackson

Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number.
    Stonewall Jackson

Arms is a profession that, if its principles are adhered to for success, requires an officer do what he fears may be wrong and yet, according to military experience, must be done, if success is to be attained.
    Stonewall Jackson – Letter to his wife (1862)

Close up, men, close up; push on, push on.
    Stonewall Jackson

Don’t say it’s impossible! Turn your command over to the next officer. If he can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can, even if I have to take him from the ranks!
    Stonewall Jackson

Duty is ours; consequences are God’s.
    Stonewall Jackson

I am in favor of making a thorough trial for peace, and if we fail in this and our state is invaded, to defend it with terrific resistance.
    Stonewall Jackson – Letter to his nephew (January 1861)

I am more afraid of King Alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.
    Stonewall Jackson

I had rather lose one man in marching than five in fighting.
    Stonewall Jackson

I like liquor — its taste and its effects — and that is just the reason why I never drink it.
    Stonewall Jackson

I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go.
    Stonewall Jackson – On his deathbed (10 May 1863)

I yield to no man in sympathy for the gallant men under my command; but I am obliged to sweat them tonight, so that I may save their blood tomorrow.
    Stonewall Jackson – To Colonel Sam Fulkerson (24 May 1862)

If officers desire to have control over their commands, they must remain habitually with them, industriously attend to their instruction and comfort, and in battle lead them well.
    Stonewall Jackson

If you desire to be more heavenly minded, think more of the things of heaven, and less of the things of earth.
    Stonewall Jackson

It is painful enough to discover with what unconcern they speak of war and threaten it. I have seen enough of it to make me look upon it as the sum of all evils.
    Stonewall Jackson

It is the Lord’s Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday.
    Stonewall Jackson – On his deathbed (10 May 1863)

Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
    Stonewall Jackson – Last words (10 May 1863)

My duty is to obey orders.
    Stonewall Jackson – Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson (1891)

My men have sometimes failed to take a position, but to defend one, never!
    Stonewall Jackson – To Major Heros von Borcke (13 December 1862)

My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.
    Stonewall Jackson – Said to Captain John D. Imboden (24 July 1861)

Never take counsel of your fears.
    Stonewall Jackson

Now, gentlemen, let us at once to bed, and see if tomorrow we cannot do something.
    Stonewall Jackson

Once you get them running, you stay right on top of them, and that way a small force can defeat a large one every time.
    Stonewall Jackson

Our men fought bravely, but the enemy repulsed me. Many valuable lives were lost. Our God was my shield. His protecting care is an additional cause for gratitude.
    Stonewall Jackson – Letter to his wife after First Battle of Kernstown (24 March 1862)

People who are anxious to bring on war don’t know what they are bargaining for; they don’t see all the horrors that must accompany such an event.
    Stonewall Jackson

Sacrifices! Have I not made them? What is my life here but a daily sacrifice?
    Stonewall Jackson

The hardships of forced marches are often more painful than the dangers of battle.
    Stonewall Jackson

The only true rule for cavalry is to follow the enemy as long as he retreats.
    Stonewall Jackson – To Colonel Thomas T. Munford (13 June 1862)

The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.
    Stonewall Jackson

The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
    Stonewall Jackson – Speech to cadets at Virginia Military Institute (March 1861)

This army stays here until the last wounded man is removed. Before I will leave them to the enemy, I will lose many more men.
    Stonewall Jackson

To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure all the fruits of victory is the secret of successful war.
    Stonewall Jackson

War means fighting. The business of the soldier is to fight.
    Stonewall Jackson

War means fighting. The business of the soldier is to fight. Armies are not called out to dig trenches, to throw up breastworks, to live in camps, but to find the enemy and strike him; to invade his country, and do him all possible damage in the shortest possible time. This will involve great destruction of life and property while it lasts; but such a war will of necessity be of brief continuance, and so would be an economy of life and property in the end. To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure all the fruits of victory is the secret of successful war.
    Stonewall Jackson

We must make this campaign an exceedingly active one. Only thus can a weaker country cope with a stronger; it must make up in activity what it lacks in strength.
    Stonewall Jackson – Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson (1891)

What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death.
    Stonewall Jackson

Who could not conquer with such troops as these?
    Stonewall Jackson – Remark to his staff (25 August 1862)

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