A marker along Route 11 in northern Berkeley County West Virginia marking the spot where General “Stonewall’ Jackson sat during the battle of Hokes Run/Falling Waters on July 2, 1861 has two errors – in a case of mistaken identity.
The plaque which states “this tablet is erected by the Berkeley County Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy to commemorate an instance of General Jackson’s remarkable bravery at all times in the face of the gravest danger. On this site, July 2, 1861, General Jackson was seated under an oak tree, giving orders when fired upon by federal troops, a cannon ball cut off a limb of the tree, but Jackson unhurt, rode calmly away.”
First mistake was that it was Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, not General Jackson, who was sitting on the rock that day. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson had trained the troops at Bolivar Heights, right above Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). He had marched his men to northern Berkeley County, north of Martinsburg, to await the eminent attack of the Union troops who were marching towards Virginia. The Union troops, commanded by General Robert Patterson, were the ones who fired the artillery shell that knocked the limb off the tree above where he was sitting. Colonel Jackson did not receive notification that he had been promoted to General until after leaving the area and heading further southward in the Shenandoah Valley.
He was also not know as “Stonewall” Jackson on July 2, 1861. That designation, much to his embarrassment, came when he led his men into action at First Manassas/Bull Run on July 21, 1861. At that battle an observer said “Look, men. There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” The name stuck, though he insisted it be given to his men. They became known as the Stonewall Brigade, carrying the name throughout the war though their leader had fallen at the Battle of Chancellorsville from friendly fire on the evening of May 2, 1863. He died eight days later from pneumonia following the amputation of his arm wounded by the gunshot.
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