The Character of Stonewall Jackson: Observance of Promises

I have recently begun reading a biography of “Stonewall” Jackson by John Esten Cooke. In it, he recounts an early example of the character for Jackson was known. On his way to Washington to pursue the opportunity of an appointment to West Point, the future general is faced with an ethical dilemma testing whether he will keep his word.

An incident of this journey indicated how much importance he attached to the observance of his promises. He borrowed a friend’s horse to ride to Clarksburg, where he expected to take the stage, promising to leave the animal at a certain stable in the town, but upon reaching the place found that the stage was several miles upon its way. This was a serious disappointment to the ardent youth, and a friend, seeing his trouble, urged him to ride to the next town, where he could come up with the vehicle, promising to send after the borrowed horse and return him to his owner. The temptation to accept this offer was great. The roads were ancle deep in mud, and the stage rapidly rolling on its way; the only obstacle was his promise to leave the horse at Clarksburg. He declined the friendly offer, delivered the horse at the appointed place, and shouldering his baggage set off on foot through the mud to catch the stage. He came up with it, and proceeded to Washington.

Stonewall Jackson: A Military Biography – John Esten Cooke

Jeff Riddle has been posting on “The Piety of Stonewall Jackson.” His series, which I have enjoyed immensely, is drawn from R. L. Dabney’s Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson. The entire series can be read here, and is well worth your time.


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