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A General’s Books Tell Tales

02/22/2011
The personal bookcase of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson sits empty in a gallery at the Virginia Historical Society; his books no longer grace the shelves. They are preserved in mylar jackets in the rare book room alongside the volumes of other famous Virginians. The bookcase and contents were given by Jackson’s grandson, Lt. Col. Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, to the Confederate Memorial Association. In a letter from Christian to the association’s president, Douglas Southall Freeman, dated July 18, 1938, the colonel states, “I believe that every one of Gen. Jackson’s books was shipped with the exception of four—two of each which my two children desired.” (Mss3 C7602 a FA1).

Stonewall Jackson's Profile

 

A dedicated VHS volunteer has entered these volumes into the Legacy Library project on LibraryThing.com, recreating Stonewall Jackson’s library for all to search. A library can provide remarkable insight into a person’s interests, pursuits, and influences; Jackson’s library is no exception. It contained many of the standard works that graced the shelves of other contemporary scholars and included Abbot’s Histories, Plutarch’s Lives, Pilgrim’s Progress and the works of John Milton. Yet, Jackson’s books also reflect his deep spiritual faith and brilliant tactical mind.

Theological texts abound in Jackson’s library. There are numerous sermons, A Series of Discourses on the Christian Revelation, and the Lives of the Apostles. Jackson had multiple versions of the books of the Bible, including the New Testament in Spanish and French. His deep spiritual faith was well known to others; one volume, The Bible and Men of Learning in a Course of Lectures, is inscribed, “For Major T. J. Jackson, V.M.I., from some friends of the V.M.I. in New York.”

The signature of T. J. Jackson on one of his books.

Jackson’s library contains many military texts that chronicle the arc of his career, from West Point cadet and soldier to V.M.I. professor and finally to lieutenant general in the Army of Northern Virginia. A copy of An Elementary Treatise on Optics Designed for the Use of the Cadets of the United States Military Academy contains profuse marginal notations. There are the standard instructions for field and heavy artillery and Army Regulations: Adopted for Use of the Army of the Confederate States. One surprising find is the Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States with the date “Nov. 15th, 1862” in Jackson’s hand.

Other notable works include a guide to Florence, The Family Kitchen Gardener and The New Hydropathic Cook-Book. You can explore all of Stonewall Jackson’s books on the Legacy Library project at http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Stonewall_Jackson.

Stonewall Jackson’s Legacy Library
 
Stephanie Fillman is a cataloging library assistant at the Virginia Historical Society.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret Kidd permalink
    02/24/2011 11:49 am

    Great post Stephanie! I somehow missed the Jackson’s library was being recreated on LibraryThing. I will have to check that out. It is wonderful to see someone’s collection of books. I used to enjoy perusing his books in the rare book room, just to see what all he collected.

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    • 02/24/2011 12:32 pm

      Thanks Margaret. The next library we are considering is Robert Carter of Nomini Hall. At 200+ titles, this will be a considerable undertaking. The John D. Rockefeller Library has contributed Landon Carter’s library; it would be interesting to compare the libraries of 2 members of this prominent family.

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      • 03/04/2011 1:55 pm

        Ma’am, I work in the Defense Prisoner of War / Missing Personnel Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As an alumnus of VMI, an Army officer formerly assigned to the 1st “Stonewall” Brigade of the VA ARNG, and an admirer of LTG Jackson, my interest in Jackson has recently melded with my assignment: I am the case manager for Col. Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, USAAF, who was lost vic Arras, France, Aug 12, ’44. Might you have any information about Col. Christian? Thank you for your time and consideration.

        -Jeff
        Jeffrey S. Williams
        Major, US Army Reserve
        Defense POW / MIA Office
        Office of the Secretary of Defense

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      • 03/15/2011 9:58 am

        I was unable to find anything about Col. Christian in our collections. Perhaps the Library of Virginia, our state’s archives can be of assistance as they house public records. Their website is: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

        Good luck,
        Katherine Wilkins
        Assistant Librarian

        Like

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