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Remembering Jackson before he was 'Stonewall'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Joseph H. Diss Debar sketched the profile of Maj. Thomas Jackson on a piece of newspaper in October 1860.

Jackson was at Parkersburg and Mineral Wells for a few days' recreation awaiting the results of the electoral campaign that determined the Civil War, in which he would become a legend as Gen. Stonewall Jackson.

"His spirits were visibly depressed and his manner and speech more or less absent and dreamy," Diss Debar wrote about his encounter with Jackson in an 1874 article in the Clarksburg Telegram.

"I had met the acquaintance of Lt. Tom Jackson when he was presented with a sword of honor in the town of Weston, Lewis County, on his return from the Mexican War."

For Jackson and his numerous kinsmen, it was "a proud and memorable occasion," Diss Debar recalled.

Now, Jackson sat each day by himself on a rustic bench perusing the paper with profound attention. Diss Debar had heard that Jackson, formerly of the Virginia Military Institute, was saddened by some disagreement with the government over his treatment in the Army.

One morning, Diss Debar wrote, an intelligent, liberal Democrat attempted to sound the silent reader on his sentiments in case of a rupture between North and South on slavery.

"Slowly folding his paper, the Southern patriot replied in a quite earnest tone, while his eyes contracted like John Brown's on the Shinnston Road, 'In that event, it may be the duty of some of us to stand for some things we may not implicitly approve. It is evidently so in the conflicts of that kind.'"

Jackson had nothing else to say.


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