WE KNEW STONE-WALL JACKSON by Richard Wheeler

WE KNEW STONE-WALL JACKSON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like Wheeler's earlier volumes, Voices of 1776 (1972) and Voices of the Civil War (1976), this biography of the Confederate general consists of eyewitness accounts linked by rapid narrative summaries. Wheeler presents Jackson as an awkward but dogged youth at West Point and a Mexican War hero. He was the greycoats' first hero, too, when his brigade's Bull Run steadfastness earned him his nickname; Wheeler and the memoirists stress the mutual regard between the soldiers and their quirky, pious leader. Most of all, he earned affection by victories--to which most of the 128-page chronicle is devoted--until his fatal wound at Chancellorsville in 1863. Jackson seems to have had an aggressive talent greater than mere stubbornness: a subordinate quotes his maxims, ""Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit. . . ."" Few contemporaries showed such keenness. The book itself naturally remains self-contained, with only rare glimpses of other commanders besides Lee (""Cavalier and Puritan,"" a writer called the two). Some of the laudatory citations--there are no adverse ones--may be biased, yet most have a convincing ring. This quality, along with the teasing questions raised by the book's very terseness (why did Jackson's promotion to lieutenant-general take until late 1862?) will prod a good segment of the intended young-adult and adult general audience to read further.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell