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The Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson

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Stonewall Jackson. His very name evokes the image of the solid, immovable Confederate general whose sobriquet, earned at the Battle of First Manassas, no longer requires quotation marks. In this volume, Stonewall's pious Christian character, service to the church, unwavering commitment to duty, affectionate role as husband and father, as well as his magnificent service to Stonewall Jackson. His very name evokes the image of the solid, immovable Confederate general whose sobriquet, earned at the Battle of First Manassas, no longer requires quotation marks. In this volume, Stonewall's pious Christian character, service to the church, unwavering commitment to duty, affectionate role as husband and father, as well as his magnificent service to Virginia are carefully recorded by his close friend Robert Lewis Dabney. Labeled by some a religious fanatic, General Jackson was simply a consistent biblical Christian who lived out his faith every day, seriously and without compromise. Dabney's account of military life in the field with General Jackson provides poignant insight into the character of the General as they discuss theology and military history, pray together, and gallop to the sound of the guns. In a day bereft of true heroes, Stonewall's gallant deeds and virtuous conduct still move our hearts with admiration. He shows us how a Christian soldier should live and die.


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Stonewall Jackson. His very name evokes the image of the solid, immovable Confederate general whose sobriquet, earned at the Battle of First Manassas, no longer requires quotation marks. In this volume, Stonewall's pious Christian character, service to the church, unwavering commitment to duty, affectionate role as husband and father, as well as his magnificent service to Stonewall Jackson. His very name evokes the image of the solid, immovable Confederate general whose sobriquet, earned at the Battle of First Manassas, no longer requires quotation marks. In this volume, Stonewall's pious Christian character, service to the church, unwavering commitment to duty, affectionate role as husband and father, as well as his magnificent service to Virginia are carefully recorded by his close friend Robert Lewis Dabney. Labeled by some a religious fanatic, General Jackson was simply a consistent biblical Christian who lived out his faith every day, seriously and without compromise. Dabney's account of military life in the field with General Jackson provides poignant insight into the character of the General as they discuss theology and military history, pray together, and gallop to the sound of the guns. In a day bereft of true heroes, Stonewall's gallant deeds and virtuous conduct still move our hearts with admiration. He shows us how a Christian soldier should live and die.

30 review for The Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    One of the difficulties in reviewing a biography is resisting the temptation to write a summary of a summary. This is made more difficult when the author has no specific purpose in writing the biography. Robert Lewis Dabney, however, wrote with a clear goal in mind-to vindicate the cause for which his hero, Lt. General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, fought. Dabney's motives were two-fold: to use Jackson's Christian character as an example of hope and perseverance to Jackson's defeated countrymen One of the difficulties in reviewing a biography is resisting the temptation to write a summary of a summary. This is made more difficult when the author has no specific purpose in writing the biography. Robert Lewis Dabney, however, wrote with a clear goal in mind-to vindicate the cause for which his hero, Lt. General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, fought. Dabney's motives were two-fold: to use Jackson's Christian character as an example of hope and perseverance to Jackson's defeated countrymen (vi., all citations and summarizations will be cited by page numbers within parentheses). Secondly, Dabney sought to vindicate the cause for which the South fought-the doctrine of state's rights as Dabney interpreted it. Dabney attempted, not so much to narrate Stonewall Jackson's life, but to give reasons for why Jackson faced each situation, during war-time and peace-time, and the influences that drove Jackson. Review Stonewall Jackson's life is described by hardship, courage, and fidelity. Jackson was born on 21 January, 1824 in Clarksburg, VA. Within the first six years of his life Jackson's sister and mother die, forcing him to live with relatives. Although he experienced hardship with his relatives, at the same time he began to cultivate diligence and devotion to family and country; it was at West Point that the diligence would come to full fruition. Jackson was by no means intellectually prepared to study at West Point. This was evident by his finishing his first year ranked 71st in the class. His diligence paid off as he graduated in the top third of his class. After finishing at West Point, Jackson would soon head to Mexico to serve in the Mexican War. This proved to be a crucial period in Jackson's life as he distinguished himself as competent artillery man and began an interest in Christianity. After exploring the different denominations Jackson was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in the early 1850's (60-61, he did not actually join the church until he moved back to Virginia). It could be argued (and Dabney takes its truth for granted) that one cannot understand Stonewall Jackson without understanding his Christianity which occupied every moment of his existence. In fact, Dabney uses Jackson's religious convictions to tie in all other themes in his life: "As God's nature and will were to him the standard of that which is right, and the fountain-head of obligation, so, whenever he found a fellow-creature clothed by the sanction of right, with legitimate authority over his conscience, he honored and obeyed him within his proper sphere, as a bearer of a delegated portion of the majesty of heaven; and his respect became a religious sentiment" (87). This mentality above all else would be the force that drove Jackson into war; having sworn fidelity to Virginia and seeing her cause as God's cause, he could then fight for Virginia and the South as he was fighting for God. In speaking of the cause for Secession and Jackson's belief in it, Dabney is at his literary best. Dabney described Jackson as a "States'-Rights' Democrat" and spends the next thirty pages describing the implications of that view. Dabney argued that the right of a state, primarily Virginia, accepted the Constitution on one condition: that she could retire from the Union if she found the situation to be unsatisfactory to her sovereignty (130). Although this part of the book shows Dabney at his best, it is hard to see how much of these thoughts are Dabney's and how much are Jackson's. Dabney briefly mentions slavery and that it was "not the cause, but only the occasion, of the Southern resistance" (163). Understanding the political and religious convictions of Jackson, Dabney then applied this understanding to the Civil War. Jackson fought each battle with the same intensity with which he lived every other aspect of his life: a religious devotion to God coupled with a fervent desire to his superiors. Although Dabney never explicitly phrased it this way, Jackson saw himself as a soldier fighting in the army of God. The Southern Cause was God's cause, or so Jackson thought. As a result, Jackson could attribute each victory in battle to the blessing of God, as his letters to his wife show (229). Critique Although one may fault Dabney with writing a biased account of the Civil War and his hero in particular, Dabney would have freely admitted as much. Dabney was privy to much personal information about Jackson and had the advantage of serving as his chief-of-staff for a year in 1862, giving him key insight into important battles. Although his prose was laborious at times, having warmed up to his subject he could reach elegant literary heights. A fine example is his defense of Virginia in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for an invasion of the South, "But when the tyrant tried the perilous experiment, he was startled by a result as unexpected as that which followed the touch of Ithuriel's spear. She, whom he thought a patient, hesitating...paralytic, flamed up...like a pyramid of fire, and Virginia stood forth again in her immortal youth, the unterrified Commonwealth of 1776...wielding that sword which has ever flashed before the eyes of aggressors, the Sic Semper Tyrannis" (157). Civil War studies have moved beyond Dabney's time, but his work has rightly gained the title of a classic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I knew Stonewall Jackson was an incredible man, but I did not know just how incredible he was - until I read this book. I thank God for R.L. Dabney preserving the history of Jackson's life in an incredible volume. Stonewall was a man who carried a strong sense of duty to God - he understood that all areas of life fell under the authority of God, this belief greatly impacted every detail of his life and the way he served his country. At the end of the book, I wept with the many southerners who, d I knew Stonewall Jackson was an incredible man, but I did not know just how incredible he was - until I read this book. I thank God for R.L. Dabney preserving the history of Jackson's life in an incredible volume. Stonewall was a man who carried a strong sense of duty to God - he understood that all areas of life fell under the authority of God, this belief greatly impacted every detail of his life and the way he served his country. At the end of the book, I wept with the many southerners who, despite not having met this great man, mourned his passing in 1863. He was - and still is a hero. Wouldn't it be absolutely life-changing if every little boy today looked up to men like Stonewall as their hero? I believe we'd be in a different world.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I loved this book. Of course, I love Stonewall to begin with, but this gave me a much better understanding of him. Dabney writes well, and makes his points clear. Very inspiring story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scott Cox

    This is a very challenging biography of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson by his contemporary, Robert Dabney, a theology professor at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. However this book is more than a mere biography of Stonewall Jackson; it is also Dabney's apologetic for the Southern cause and a defense of slavery. This book is very challenging because it confronts the reader with an unpopular viewpoint. After being initially challenged, I ultimately came to a firm Biblical understa This is a very challenging biography of the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson by his contemporary, Robert Dabney, a theology professor at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. However this book is more than a mere biography of Stonewall Jackson; it is also Dabney's apologetic for the Southern cause and a defense of slavery. This book is very challenging because it confronts the reader with an unpopular viewpoint. After being initially challenged, I ultimately came to a firm Biblical understanding that Robert Dabney, and the Southern cause was wrong, and Biblically sinful. However helpful it is to have our views challenged, it is even better to have them conform to the word of God. Both Dabney & Jackson now know the truth . . . in heaven; praise God for his gracious mercies!

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Adams

    The Rantings of a Disgruntled Man This book is less about Jackson's campaigns and more about trying to revise history to make the Confederate loss of the war more palatable. The author clearly states his bias in the beginning and gives if full range throughout the book making it a tough read. Better books on this subject.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Davis

    What a great book. It's a wonderful piece of history that is well written. The man himself is amazing, but Dabney does a great job presenting him. Dabney isn't tainted by modern notions of being politically correct. Instead he tells the tale with deep love and honesty. Excellent, excellent book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Loved it. Highly recommend ... Dabney early in the book pulls the reader into the mindset of many southerners and copperheads in that era. Lots of technical information ... he is extremely descriptive.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Sager

    "Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of trees" was the last words spoken by Stonewall Jackson. I recommend this book to all interested in learning more about not only his military background and wars but about the man who knew and trusted the Lord. The beginning was a little hard to read with so much background regarding why the South went to war with the North. I do not agree with the stance on slavery but do appreciate the reasons why. The language is a little difficult but on "Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of trees" was the last words spoken by Stonewall Jackson. I recommend this book to all interested in learning more about not only his military background and wars but about the man who knew and trusted the Lord. The beginning was a little hard to read with so much background regarding why the South went to war with the North. I do not agree with the stance on slavery but do appreciate the reasons why. The language is a little difficult but once you started reading it, you get more accustomed to it and it becomes easier to read. There are a number of errors in the book that do make it a challenge. I learned a lot about Stonewall Jackson and his character and see much personally I can apply to my life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Moondog

    I understand that Mr. Dabney lived in the 19th century and therefore probably had a really sinful blind spot about what "biblical slavery" means, and overall, this is a great biography written pretty recently after Jackson's death. That said, it would have been a much better biography had the author excised his own personal sermons on the beauty of owning kidnapped slaves and the saintly perfection of the South from the story, and instead focused more on Jackson's own views. The bias in some are I understand that Mr. Dabney lived in the 19th century and therefore probably had a really sinful blind spot about what "biblical slavery" means, and overall, this is a great biography written pretty recently after Jackson's death. That said, it would have been a much better biography had the author excised his own personal sermons on the beauty of owning kidnapped slaves and the saintly perfection of the South from the story, and instead focused more on Jackson's own views. The bias in some areas made it difficult to digest the better parts of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    On the plus side, as Jackson's aide-de-camp, Dabney had front row seats to the campaigns and to how Jackson led them. He also had unfettered access to Jackson, allowing him to see firsthand the type of man Jackson was. All of this allowed Dabney to write a very detailed book and to convey the character of Jackson. The downside is that the parts dealing with the campaigns got a bit tedious to read. This could be because I am less interested in the battles of the war than I am the reasons why and On the plus side, as Jackson's aide-de-camp, Dabney had front row seats to the campaigns and to how Jackson led them. He also had unfettered access to Jackson, allowing him to see firsthand the type of man Jackson was. All of this allowed Dabney to write a very detailed book and to convey the character of Jackson. The downside is that the parts dealing with the campaigns got a bit tedious to read. This could be because I am less interested in the battles of the war than I am the reasons why and the bios.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris McKelley

    While a great plethora of information, I found this hard to read. The publisher could have helped the readers by adding page numbers and separating the text better. I love Stonewall and all he was about.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    Mostly skimmed while I read this in conjunction with Robertson's biography of Jackson. I own a first edition of this book. This was the edition I skimmed - since it is a collector's item I didn't use it as a reading copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This is going to take me a while...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    very good book

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ray Stafford

    this book was absolutely amazing, did a good job of portraying the strong man of God and the fearless soldier that Jackson was

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    The first "authorized" biography of Stonewall Jackson written in 1866. As a minister and associate of Jackson, Dabney goes to great lengths emphasizing Jackson's religious character.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I give up. It is supposed to be a great book but the writing style is so old it is hard to follow. No mas.

  18. 5 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    An amazing work. By the time Dabney is done, you know Stonewall so well that it feels like a brother has died.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bierle

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jo Kleveter

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elsie Stoltzfus

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  23. 4 out of 5

    B. Crocker

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tom Henry

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kyle C. Dunham

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Mader

  27. 4 out of 5

    ~*amy N

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charles Creech

  30. 5 out of 5

    D. E.

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