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Memorial to Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson

January 21 1824-May 10 1863

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From R. L. Dabney's Biography

Perhaps the most impressive exhibition of his prayerful spirit was that which was sometimes witnessed on the field of battle. More than once, as one of his favorite brigades was passing into action, he had been noticed sitting motionless upon his horse, with his right hand uplifted, while the war-worn column swept, in stern silence, close by his side into the storm of shot. For a time, it seemed doubtful whether it was mere abstraction of thought or a posture to relieve his fatigue. But at length those who looked more narrowly were convinced by his closed eyes and moving lips that he was wrestling in silent prayer for them! His fervent soul doubtless swelled with the solemn thoughts of his own responsibility and his country's crisis, of the precious blood he was compelled to put in jeopardy, and the souls passing, perhaps unprepared, to their everlasting doom; and of the orphanage and widowhood which was about to ensue. Recognizing the sovereignty of the Lord of Hosts, he interceded for his veterans, that "the Almighty would cover them with his feathers, and that his truth might be their shield and buckler." The moral grandeur of this scene was akin to that when Moses, upon the Mount of God, lifted up his hands while Israel prevailed against Amalek.

Stonewall Jackson

General Jackson's "Chancellorsville" Portrait, taken at a Spotsylvania County farm on April 26, 1863, seven days before his wounding at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

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Dabney's Description Continued

The Christian reader will easily comprehend that one so conscientious, and believing, and devout, was a happy man. He had, while in Lexington, his domestic bereavements, and he felt them as every man of sensibility must; but the consolations of the gospel abounded in him at those seasons. His habitual frame was a calm sunshine. He was never desponding and never frivolous. It is manifest that in all the later years of his religious life, his soul dwelt continually in the blessed assurance of his acceptance through the Redeemer; and this steady spiritual joy purified and elevated all his earthly affections. It is the testimony of his pastor that he was the happiest man he ever knew. The assurance that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," was to him a living reality. It robbed suffering of all its bitterness and transmuted trials into blessings.

"Pray Without Ceasing"

A friend was once conversing with Stonewall Jackson about the difficulty of obeying the Scripture injunction, 'pray without ceasing,' and Jackson insisted that we could so accustom ourselves to it that it could be easily obeyed. "When we take our meals, there is the grace. When I take a drink of water, I always pause as my palate receives the refreshment to lift up my heart to God in thanks and prayers for the water of life. Whenever I drop a letter into the box at the post office, I send a petition along with it for God's blessing upon its mission and upon the person to whom it is sent. When I break the seal of a letter just received, I stop to pray to God that he may prepare me for its contents and make it a messenger of good. When I go to my classroom and await the arrangement of the cadets in their places, that is my time to intercede with God for them. And so of every other familiar act of the day."

Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography by John Esten Cooke

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