Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. Read more...
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From the author of the prize-winning "New York Times "bestseller "Empire of the Summer Moon "comes a thrilling account" "of how Civil War general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson" "became a great and tragic American hero.
Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country's greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson's strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.
In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked--hope--and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.
"Rebel Yell "is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne's hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson's private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson's brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.
- ISBN-13: 9781451673289
- ISBN-10: 1451673280
- Publisher: Scribner Book Company
- Publish Date: September 2014
- Page Count: 672
Behind the legendary stone wall
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is such an iconic military figure that he is legendary to Civil War scholars and schoolchildren alike. So it’s hard to imagine an author breaking new ground with another Jackson biography. But S.C. Gwynne does just that in Rebel Yell, which deserves comparisons to Shelby Foote’s three-volume The Civil War for its depth of knowledge and graceful narrative. Gwynne, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Empire of the Summer Moon, casts Jackson as a human being, not as a bronze figure towering over a battlefield. Readers will come away from Rebel Yell with an understanding of the man that goes beyond his military exploits.
Gwynne is obligated to cover familiar territory, as when Thomas Jackson earned his nickname by standing his ground against superior Union forces at the First Battle of Manassas. A fellow Confederate general shouted, “Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jackson’s military prowess is impressive, but it is glimpses of Stonewall off the battlefield that are more fascinating. We learn that Jackson was a complex character with any number of quirks and tics. He was deeply religious and placed his fate in the hands of God. Thus, while he lived by the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” once the South declared war, he pledged his loyalty and felt that any death he caused was God’s will. Formerly a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, Jackson was introverted and soft-spoken, yet in the heat of battle, his eyes became fiery and his demeanor decisive as he barked out orders. He was consumed by his health, and a bad stomach propelled him to a diet of stale bread and buttermilk. Despite these peculiarities, Jackson rose to become one of the South’s fiercest and most beloved generals, so relied upon that his early death left Confederates wondering whether the war’s outcome might have been different if he had survived.
Gwynne’s masterful storytelling makes Rebel Yell an absorbing choice for general readers and Civil War buffs alike.