S.C. Gwynne ’74
S.C. Gwynne ’74

When Thomas J. Jackson began his Civil War career, he was known among his students at the Virginia Military Institute as the college’s worst teacher, a literalist when it came to following military orders, and an implausible star in the Mexican-American War. He also was a confirmed Unionist who hated the very idea of the tremendous conflict that secession would bring. Despite his aversion to war, the man known as Stonewall Jackson became one of the greatest Southern heroes of the Civil War. As S.C. Gwynne ’74 writes in Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, in a war that “made a specialty of such changes,” Jackson’s transformation stands out. With the same vivid prose that marked his previous book, Pulitzer Prize finalist Empire of the Summer Moon, Gwynne offers a fresh perspective on the life of the man who, 14 months after the start of the war, had become the most famous military figure in the Western world.  

Gwynne deftly weaves together accounts of Jackson’s humble upbringing and quiet home life, his regimented and sometimes peculiar personal habits, and the brilliance that in July 1862 helped him face a Union force, in that moment the largest military force in the Western Hemisphere, that was on the verge of taking the Confederate capital of Richmond. “Public myths and private truths are brilliantly reflected in S.C. Gwynne's fine new biography,” writes The Chicago Tribune. Says Booklist, “Gwynne’s vivid account of his Civil War run, which ended with his death in the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, is a riveting, cover-to-cover read for history buffs.”