Victory! Telegraphic reports spoke of Yankee invaders in full flight! Eager for details, a crowd gathered at the Lexington, Virginia post office. There, on this hot July day in 1861, they breathlessly awaited the arrival of further news of the glorious triumph near Manassas.
They would have been thrilled had they known that Thomas J. Jackson, V.M.I. Professor and deacon at the local Presbyterian church, behaved brilliantly in the war’s first great battle. At a critical moment, Jackson’s brigade withstood a furious assault. “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall!” shouted Bernard Bee to his own wavering men. Beauregard himself characterized Jackson as “an able, fearless soldier and sagacious commander.” Deacon Jackson would privately confide to his wife that “we fought a great battle, & gained a great victory,” quickly adding that “all the glory is due to God alone.” Though “God made my brigade more instrumental than any other in repulsing the main attack,” he cautioned her that “this is for your information only. Say nothing about it.”
The mail was in! “Now we will have the news!” announced Rev. William S. White. “Here is a letter from General Jackson himself!” Everyone congregated around the preacher as he opened the envelope and began to read aloud.
“My dear pastor,” began Jackson, “in my tent last night, after a fatiguing day’s service, I remembered that I had failed to send you my contribution for our colored Sunday School. Enclosed you will find a check for that object …”
Not a line about the battle. Not a word that would bring glory to himself. There was only a clear and abiding concern for his Master’s work. That was Stonewall Jackson’s way.
South Carolina League of the South