Mrs. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is not only remembered as the wife and widow of the great Confederate General Jackson, but she was a great lady in her own right and did much to help create a new South after the War Between the States.
Mrs. Jackson, prior to her marriage, was Mary Anna Morrison, the daughter of Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, who was the founder of Davidson College and the first president there. Dr. Morrison was a graduate of the University of North Carolina and of Princeton University.
Her mother was Mary Graham, the daughter of General Joseph Graham who was a member of the NC Militia and hero of the Revolution. She was sister to the Honorable William A. Graham, governor of North Carolina and later Secretary of the Navy.
Dr. Graham was a noted Presbyterian minister and prior to his presidency at Davidson, he had been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, and at the historic Sugar Creek Church near Charlotte. He and Mrs. Morrison built a home near Charlotte in Lincoln County called “Cottage Home.” It was here that Mary Anna was born in 1831.
Anna, as she was known, had the following brothers and sisters: Eugenia, Susan, Laura, Joseph Jr., Robert, Alfred, Isabella, William and Harriett. The Morrisons later lived in a large brick home on the Davidson campus.
Young Anna Morrison attended the local schools and then Salem Academy (now Salem College) in Winston-Salem where she was graduated in 1849. She could speak well, write and was an accomplished pianist.
Her sister, Isabella, had met and married Daniel H. Hill (later Lieutenant General, C.S.A.) who was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. While visiting the Hills, Anna met Thomas J. Jackson. Having graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, Jackson was also a teacher at VMI. He first married a Miss Junkin in 1853 and she died fourteen months later.
After her death he courted Anna. He made a trip to Europe and when he returned they were married in 1857 at “Cottage Home” near Charlotte. Dr. Drury Lacy, then president of Davidson College, performed the service. The Jacksons went on a bridal tour to the north.
Jackson was a professor of mathematics at the Virginia Military Institute. After they married, they bought a home and a few acres of land near Lexington. At the beginning of the War Between the States, he volunteered and was given a commission as major in the Confederate Army. He left Lexington on April 21, 1861 and never returned home.
Because of his military leadership and daring victories, Jackson soon attained the rank of lieutenant general. His troops loved him and gave him the nickname of “Stonewall” due to his valor under fire. General Jackson became known as one of the most gifted tactical commanders in U.S. military history. He never took a furlough during the war and never slept outside his camp.
Anna joined Jackson in Winchester, VA in December 1861 and the couple had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time together even as he commanded his troops. As the war intensified, she returned to her family’s home in North Carolina.
The Jackson’s only child, Julia Laura, was born Nov. 23, 1862 at the home of an aunt in Charlotte.
In April 1863 Mrs. Jackson took her daughter and traveled to Moss Neck, VA, near Fredericksburg where General Jackson was encamped. Thomas got to see his baby girl for the first time. The family remained there in a nearby cottage for several days.
On the dusky evening of May 2, 1863, General Jackson was mistakenly wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville by his own troops. He was carried to a field hospital where his left arm was amputated. It was thought that Jackson would recover. He was moved further away from the battlefield to Guinea’s Depot, a railroad station some twenty miles south of Fredericksburg. Thomas soon realized that his condition was more serious so he sent for his wife, who was still in the area.
Anna arrived there on Thursday, May 7. General Jackson developed pneumonia and died on Sunday, May 10, with his faithful wife by his side. His body was taken to Richmond, where it lay in state in the Confederate Capitol building. With much sad ceremony, a special train carried his body to Lexington, VA for burial. After the funeral, Anna and Julia returned to Lincoln County where they lived at “Cottage Home”. They later moved to the Charlotte Female Institute where Julia attended school. Anna never remarried and wore mourning clothes for the remainder of her life.
In her later years Anna became very active and was involved in the reunions of Confederate veterans. She made her home on Trade Street in Charlotte, near the present-day First Presbyterian Church.
In 1898 she organized the Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Charlotte, and was elected President for life. Anna was also a member of the Mecklenburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was involved in various cultural societies of Charlotte. She was active in each until failing health forced her to give up her responsibilities.
Anna remained a beloved figure in the South for the rest of her life and was known as the “Widow of the Confederacy’. Many prominent figures called upon her, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson. In 1891 she attended the unveiling of the statute of General Jackson at his grave in Lexington, Virginia. In 1899 while attending the D.A.R. Continental Congress, a reception was held at the White House and President McKinley invited her to receive guests with him and Mrs. McKinley.
Julia Jackson married Captain W. E. Christian and lived in California. They had two children, John and Thomas Jackson, who were brought back to North Carolina to live after Julia’s early death.
Mrs. Stonewall Jackson died on March 24, 1915, in Charlotte at 83 years of age. She was buried with military rites beside her beloved husband in Lexington, VA. “Her plan of life was as simple as her husband’s, which consisted of finding out each day what she believed to be her duty, through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation, and then doing it uncomplainingly and with as little affectation as possible,” it was written about her on her death.
She will long be remembered for her “quiet kind of dignity” that laid the foundation stones for the new South..
(Editor’s note: Reprinted with permission of the Mount Olive Tribune.)