Military Tactics: The Stonewall Jackson Quiz

HISTORY

Staff

4 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was deeply religious, committed to the Confederacy and, frankly, kind of a strange guy. Still, he was brilliant on a battlefield. How much do you know about his tactics?

At what battle did Jackson earn his "Stonewall" nickname?

Jackson was given the name by Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. at the First Battle of Bull Run.

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What did Jackson to do earn the name?

Bee is said to have yelled, "There is Jackson, standing like a stone wall," to his troops. It has never been determined if he was inspiring his soldiers or criticizing Jackson's immobility.

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Jackson's most famous series of victories is known as what?

Jackson delayed and defeated a much larger Union army in the Valley Campaign.

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What valley did it take place in?

Jackson's triumph occurred in the Shenandoah Valley.

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What was the Confederate objective in the Valley Campaign?

The Union had positioned more than 100,000 troops near Richmond. The Confederates could not at that time confront that many troops directly, so they needed to delay the Union troops and draw them away from Richmond.

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At the First Battle of Kernstown, Jackson boldly attacked a much larger Union army and lost. Why did he attack so aggressively?

Jackson had faulty intelligence, which led to a somewhat foolhardy attack — his only loss of the campaign.

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Why was the loss at Kernstown actually of great benefit to Jackson?

Jackson's "mistake" fooled the Union into worrying he was a much bigger threat than he really was.

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What military principle did Jackson rely on in the Valley Campaign?

"Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy, if possible," Jackson wrote. Keeping the Union off balance and constantly surprised by his actions was the key to Jackson's success in the Shenandoah.

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Jackson left the valley after Kernstown, then surprised the Union by doing what?

Jackson returned his army unexpectedly to Staunton, Virginia, by train, surprising Union Gen. John C. Fremont and forcing a Union retreat.

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Jackson next pushed north. How did he surprise the Union this time?

Jackson's march over Massanutten Mountain to surprise the Union would have impressed Alexander the Great.

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After chasing federal troops out of Middletown, Virginia, Jackson wanted to do what, following another military principle he adhered to?

Although unable to do so (his troops paused to gather abandoned Union supplies), Jackson wanted to chase his defeated enemy. In a letter to Gen. John D. Imboden, he once wrote, "An army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken and can then be destroyed by half their number."

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At this point, Jackson had effectively diverted the Union armies away from Richmond, Virginia. The Union sent three columns to outflank and defeat Jackson in the valley. Instead of fleeing, Jackson chose to make a stand at Port Republic. Why did he choose that location?

Jackson took control of the bridges over the South Fork River at Port Republic, allowing him to "divide and conquer" the federal forces.

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How far did Jackson's troops march during the 30 days of the Valley Campaign?

They covered about 350 miles altogether (closer to 400 by some accounts) — an astonishing effort by the men themselves, considering the speed with which they marched over rough terrain and the frequency with which they fought. They were sometimes humorously known as "Jackson's foot cavalry."

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At the Seven Days Battles, Jackson made several tactical mistakes. Why did he perform so poorly?

It's impossible to be sure why Jackson performed poorly at Mechanicsville — he might have just had an off week — but exhaustion and sleep deprivation are very plausible causes.

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In general terms (pun kind of intended), what was Jackson's style as a battlefield general?

Jackson was bold and aggressive but not reckless. His decisive moves and attacks were contrasted by the more timid Union generals he defeated.

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At the Second Battle of Bull Run, Jackson maneuvered behind the Union army and did what?

He destroyed the army's supplies, then took a defensive position (contrary to his reputation).

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Why was Jackson sent to capture Harper's Ferry by Gen. Lee?

Jackson's mission to Harper's Ferry was an important part of Lee's Maryland campaign because Union control of the town threatened his supply lines.

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How did Jackson arrange his troops when they reached Harper's Ferry?

Although Jackson surrounded the Union position, the geography made it difficult for him to move into and capture the town.

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How did Jackson attack Harper's Ferry at first?

The artillery barrage alarmed the Union forces under Gen. Dixon S. Miles and destroyed some of their artillery, but it was not enough to get them to surrender.

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Jackson had to hurry his assault on Harper's Ferry. Why?

McClellan finding the written orders was a stroke of luck that put pressure on Jackson to act quickly.

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What geographic advantages did the Union defensive position have at Harper's Ferry?

The Union positions on ridges made for a costly frontal assault, while the rivers prevented an easy flanking maneuver.

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How did Jackson accomplish the attack despite the tough defensive position?

Jackson's midnight march surprised Miles and negated the Union defenses, leading to a Union surrender with minimal losses to the Confederates.

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At what bloody battle did Jackson play a primarily defensive role, holding one end of the Confederate line against the Union attack?

Jackson ably followed Lee's orders and held his flank until reinforcements arrived at Antietam.

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At Chancellorsville, Lee sent Jackson to do what?

Facing a much larger army, Lee took a gamble and sent Jackson on a long flanking maneuver.

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Did Jackson successfully accomplish the bold flanking movement as ordered?

Jackson had to cover a lot of ground quickly to make such a strong, sweeping flanking maneuver. It's the kind of thing he was known for, and he accomplished it with little difficulty.

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What did Jackson's scouts find when they approached the Union position?

Jackson moved so quickly and came at the Union troops from such an unexpected direction that he took them completely by surprise.

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How did the ensuing attack go for Jackson?

It was a thorough victory that left the Union forces on that part of the battlefield in chaos.

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What did Jackson attempt to do immediately following that attack?

Night attacks were very rare in the Civil War, but Jackson wanted to keep the momentum of his successful flanking maneuver going with a "midnight raid."

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What happened to Jackson while scouting for this dark-of-night attack?

Jackson was severely wounded by his own troops, who couldn’t tell who was approaching in the darkness. His left arm was amputated, and he died a few days later.

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Jackson was often following Robert E. Lee's orders in battle. What was the nature of their professional relationship that showed Jackson's tactical skill even while subordinate to another general?

Jackson's ability to know what Lee's ultimate goal was and to improvise whatever tactical steps were needed to get to it was a major part of what made him such an effective general.

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