Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is often portrayed as a dashing, aggressive (maybe reckless) Confederate general—while it’s true that his tactics were unusual and he was highly successful, there’s more to the man than to the legend.
Jackson stands as a beacon of leadership on the shores of today’s petty, ineffective and absentee leadership. The man was not perfect by any means, but he was capable, compassionate, and decisive.
Thomas Jackson hailed from what was then Virginia and became West Virginia. He was orphaned at the age of six and grew up with various family members. It was with this low standing in life that he secured an appointment to West Point. He rose through the ranks and gained notoriety in the Mexican-American War as a artilleryman that could be counted on to get the job done.
Once the polish wore off the accolades from the Mexican-American War he got out of the Army and became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute(VMI). He was an eccentric professor and many of his techniques are still utilized today at VMI. Once the Civil War broke out he became a Colonel in the Virginia Militia. He gained his famous Stonewall moniker at the epic battle of First Manassas. He went on to become one of the premier generals in the Civil War.
When he died, Robert E. Lee remarked that it was like someone had cut off his right arm. Some believe that, had he lived, the South would have won the battle of Gettysburg, as he would have been in place of Richard Ewell. That’s a distinct possibility; whether or not it would have lead to the South winning the war, as some have speculated, remains a debatable topic.
Jackson had a number of leadership traits that we would do well to emulate and to look for in our leaders:
Jackson did not spend his time idly. He was disciplined. He was a man of God.
- Surrounding himself with people of faith and character
He worked with men of different types and character. Only those of high moral Character and loyalty made it as trusted advisers.
- Servant Leadership
A man that was adapt at taking orders and giving them. He demanded they be carried out no matter the cost. That is why his bosses could trust him with big objectives.
- Ability to make decisions
He quickly decided the course of action. A huge believer in the Sovereignty of God for every outcome he knew that the decision was not in his hands.
- Press on against all odds
He would march as hard as he could to gain a superior advantage. Once he had an opponent on the run he did not let up. He would annihilate an opponent given the chance but extend extreme grace to non-combatants.