A day after [the official] Lee-Jackson Day… reflections on Jackson

Posted on January 18, 2014 by


JacksonearlyThere are, obviously, varying opinions of Lee-Jackson Day. It’s not my intent to field all of those opinions, here, in this post. Rather, for me, I found yesterday’s awareness of the observation, a chance to reflect. It wasn’t Lee, however, who held my attention, but Jackson. For that matter, it wasn’t the time in Jackson’s life, between 1861-1863 that held my attention.

I took some time to visit the Stonewall Jackson House website. I’ve been to the house before, so, I looked over the various photographs and remembered my own visits there. I also took time to visit their online shopping. It might seem strange, but it was a small quote on a mug that compelled me to reexamine Jackson during the 1850s.

Of all of the places… this little village is the most beautiful.

Of course, there is more to the quote, as seen in the letter in which it appeared (September 7, 1852):

I have for months back admired Lexington, but now for the first time have truly and fully appreciated it. Of all the places which have come under my observation in the U. States, this little village is the most beautiful.

laurajacksonarnoldThe letter was addressed to Jackson’s sister… Laura Jackson Arnold.

I spent time looking through this collection of letters in VMI’s collection, and enjoyed reading about the other side of Jackson. My interest was in the fact that most of these letters are addressed from Jackson to his sister. It isn’t the story of the soldier, and, to be honest, it isn’t one which is filled with the image of Jackson that we get from Gods and Generals… a Jackson steeped in religion (not that his faith isn’t reflected in several comments, but that it isn’t the center of his writings). I find these letters fulfilling in understanding better the human side of Jackson… as a brother; as an uncle; as a husband.

I encourage readers to take the time to look through the same letters… again, those from the 1850s (seen here)… and… give  special attention to the strength of that relationship between Jackson and his sister… all the while, thinking about how differences in opinion impacted that relationship when the Civil War came, when Laura’s sentiments did not align with those of her brother.

I think we lose ourselves too much in Jackson’s years as a Confederate… which numbered so very few in the bigger picture of Jackson, the man.