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This month marks 157 years since the First Battle of Bull Run. The United States has come a long way since then. However, it still bears the scars left behind by the Civil War. Today, most see the Confederate Army and key figures such as Stonewall Jackson as nothing but symbols of slavery. Nonetheless, there’s another side to the story. It’s a story steeped in faith, grace, and duty and has been told in the audio drama With Lee in Virginia.
Stonewall Jackson Earns His Name
The drama features several big stars, including Kirk Cameron as Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. According to biographers and historians (via the History Channel), he earned his nickname during the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. At the time, he was serving as a brigadier general. During the battle, he commanded his troops to rush forward as the Union Army attacked. They filled a gap in the Confederate line. Another Confederate general observed his bold move.
He reportedly remarked, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”
The “Stonewall Jackson” nickname stuck. He earned a reputation as a genius in military tactics. Military tacticians worldwide, including professors at the Virginia Military Institute, continue to teach many of the tactics and maneuvers that he used in numerous campaigns.
Reconciling Jackson’s Faith With His Confederate Support
Stonewall Jackson was a devout Christian, which makes it difficult for the uninformed to reconcile with his support of the Confederacy. However, a study of his life suggests that he, like Lee, was fighting for the Confederacy out of a sense of duty for his home and family in Virginia. In fact, the History Channel states that he had hoped Virginia would remain in the Union. However, he ended up siding with his state over the federal government.
Historian James Robertson said in his 1997 biography entitled Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend that Jackson didn’t support slavery outright, even though his family did own slaves. Two of the slaves he owned actually asked him to buy them. He received three others as a gift. The sixth was a young orphan who suffered from a learning disability, and he agreed to give her a home.
According to Robertson, Jackson treated African Americans with respect. He also spent a lot of time sharing Christ with African Americans. Jackson spent many Sunday afternoons teaching blacks how to read and sharing the gospel with them.
God Uses Evil To Accomplish His Purpose
Still, for many, the fact remains that Stonewall Jackson fought on the side of the Confederacy, refusing to recognize slavery as the main cause of the war. There are many perspectives on the issues of the day that brought about the conflict. But irrespective of how you feel about those issues, Christians would do well to learn from his sense of duty. It serves as an incredible model for the duty we should feel in serving Christ.
The story of the Civil War also serves as a reminder that God is always sovereign and in total control. Prospects looked grim for the Union after the Battle of Bull Run. However, in God’s good providence, temporal circumstances change and the Confederacy ultimately lost the war.
Daniel 2:21 tells us that God “changes the times and seasons” and “deposes kings and raises up others.” Thus, no amount of military genius on the side of the Confederacy was enough to withstand His decision that the season of slavery in the U.S. was over. God also used bloodshed and tears during the war to accomplish His greater purpose. He appointed roles for Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate figures and used them for His kingdom purposes.
How Christianity Grew During The Civil War
While the Civil War tore families apart and claimed many lives, it stands as a testament to what God does during times of heavy turmoil. Christianity Today reported that up to 200,000 Union soldiers converted to Christianity during the Civil War. Another 150,000 Confederate soldiers also committed their lives to Christ during the war.
African Americans also became evangelical Christians in large numbers before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. The teaching from Galatians 3:28 drew them in. It tells us that God sees all Christians as His children, whether slave or free.
Just as the church of Jesus Christ (worldwide) seems to grow rapidly during persecution, so too, Christianity spread among slaves leading up to the Civil War. In fact, Christianity Today reported that slaves often risked being flogged just so they could worship God in secret gatherings. Their valor in those difficult days is another image we would do well to remember, even amid the pain caused by slavery and oppression.
You may also consider reading another Live The Adventure Letter article: Alfred’s Wisdom Came From The Fear Of The Lord
What do you think about Stonewall Jackson and how he got his name? Let us know in the comments below.