Stonewall Jackson – A Spiritual Giant

01 Apr

“Sacrifices! Have I not made them? What is my life here but a daily sacrifice?” – General Stonewall Jackson

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

What is the legacy of General Stonewall Jackson?
How is that still impacting Virginia and America today?

In the past few months I have become fascinated with the spiritual legacy of General Stonewall Jackson and the impact he has had and continues to still have on Virginia. When Dutch Sheets and Chuck Pierce spoke at the 50 State Tour gathering in March 2004, they declared that Virginia is the “covenant root state.” Based upon it’s rich Christian heritage, Virginia was acknowledged to have governmental authority, not just for the United States, but for the world.

According to David C. McCullough, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” One of the many blessings of being a close friend of Virginia Morton is that she has taught me much about Civil War history as well as the history of Culpeper and Virginia. A few months ago, I watched a DVD that Virginia loaned to me about the faith of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Without a doubt, they were spiritual giants of the Civil War.

In her email on March 28, Virginia Morton shared, “God is truly bringing truth to light pertaining to Confederate history. Thanks to Burt (Swardstrom) and the MasterMedia newsletter, I learned of the 48-minute documentary “Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story.” I then contacted Rick Williams, author of “Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend.” The friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield will be showing the film April 4 and Rick will be here to introduce it. We were blessed with two excellent articles in today’s newspaper which I think you will find fascinating.” [See today’s Link of the Day to read those.]

If you live nearby, you are invited to come to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Culpeper Virginia at 7 PM on Friday April 4 to meet Rick Williams and watch the 40 minute documentary film “Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story.”

On March 27, Robert Hartzell, founder of Fountains of Life, told me about Arthur Burk, founder of Plumbline Ministries. Robert shared that Arthur has had community transformation on his heart since 1978 and works with a lot of businessmen. Arthur believes that the spiritual gifts discussed in Romans 12 apply not only to people, but to businesses, cities, and even nations. When Arthur visits a community, he emphasizes celebrating the gifting and calling of that community rather than pointing out what’s wrong.

Prayer Power
Heavenly Father, I praise You as the God of history, the God who makes history, writes history, and uses history in Your perfect plan. Thank You for the rich spiritual heritage left by General Stonewall Jackson. Thank You for using Rick Williams to uncover part of that. Thank You that Rick is coming to Culpeper on April 4. Bless his visit and all those who meet him. Prepare the heart and minds of those who attend the April 4 gathering to understand the significance of Jackson’s life and legacy for this day and time. Thank You Jesus. Amen.

Link of the Day
Links to newspaper articles about Rick Williams and Stonewall Jackson

Blessings to understand and apply the significance of history in healing wounds of the past!


Another side of Stonewall (Source is Culpeper Star Exponent)

Catherine Amos
Staff Writer for the Culpeper Star Exponent
Friday, March 28, 2008

Rick Williams and Ken Carpenter 
“Stonewall Jackson: Black Man’s Friend” author Rick Williams and “Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story” producer Ken Carpenter talk with Keith Gibson, Commandant of VMI during the filming of “Still Standing.” (Contributed Photo) From a common interest in teaching Sunday school grew the literary portrait of a man known primarily for his deft leadership in the Confederate Army.Author and Sunday school teacher Richard G. Williams Jr. grew up in the valleys of Waynesboro, surrounded by shadowy mountains and the rich history of the Civil War. Williams’ father, a history buff, engrained in him a strong interest in the commonwealth’s history.That interest led Williams to write the intriguing biography, “Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend,” which he recently translated into film. He will be in Culpeper April 4 to introduce the documentary based on his book, “Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story.”

After four years of extensive research steeped in primary documents from the Stonewall Jackson house in Lexington, Williams released his biography in September 2006. He retained film rights in the event of a possible documentary, which came to fruition last fall.

Through his research, Williams learned of Jackson’s Sunday school class before the Civil War where he taught blacks – both slaves and freed – how to read. He expands upon events in Jackson’s childhood that “planted the seed in his heart and mind for his class,” including a boyhood friend who, with Jackson, defended the right of blacks to learn to read.

“He was in close contact with his family’s slaves and they had a big impact on him,” he said.

The class grew to nearly 100 blacks on Sunday afternoons, he said, and was comprised of children and adults. This lesser-known side of Jackson, paired with Williams’ discussion of Jackson’s faith, piqued the interest of the Nashville-based Franklin Springs Family Media production company.

Williams sought producers for a documentary from a handful of companies, but the pairing with Franklin Springs “just seemed like a perfect fit,” he said. Though he initially wanted to focus narrowly on the Sunday school class, Williams said the producers suggested a wider approach to draw a broader audience.

“We wanted to both introduce him to folks and also get to his faith and other aspects of his life,” he said. “It could have easily been a three-hour documentary, but we did a fair job.”
Ken Carpenter, director and producer of “Still Standing,” said his company receives numerous manuscripts for a variety of films, but was immediately interested in Williams’ story.

“I was taken with the concept of the book,” Carpenter said. “A southern general trying to do redemptive work with slaves is a very contrary notion to what I was taught in public school growing up. Richard’s book just began to peel back new layers of understanding for me of the Southern cause, the people involved and the circumstances of the time.”

Carpenter said the filming experience was fantastic, which included shooting at Virginia Military Institute – where Jackson taught natural philosophy (physics), optics and artillery tactics from 1851 until he left to fight in the War Between the States in 1861 – and Jackson’s boyhood home in West Virginia.

“Not only was the subject compelling but getting to shoot at various historic sites around Virginia was a filmmaker’s dream,” he said. “Shooting at VMI on an autumn day when the leaves were at their height of color was just such a beautiful palate on which to craft a film.”

The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield group in Culpeper is sponsoring the screening to raise awareness of the battle, Stonewall’s last independent command, said board member and author Virginia Morton.

“This film is really unique in that it looks at the tender side of Stonewall,” Morton said. “It’s not all about his battles, but also is about is upbringing, his faith and his school and the impact that’s had on so many people.”

Morton said she was touched deeply by a scene showing a worship service in the church Jackson attended as a child in what was then western Virginia, now West Virginia.  The gathered congregation comprises mixed-race descendents from Jackson’s school for slaves who came together to remember his legacy.

“There are so few people in our modern world that our young people can look up to as heroes,” Morton said. “And he can truly be looked up to as a hero. It’s very inspiring.”

Catherine Amos can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 138 or

Want to go?
Who: Richard G. Williams Jr., author of “Stonewall Jackson: Black Man’s Friend”
What: Screening of documentary, “Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story,” based on Williams’ book
Where: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 115 North East Street, Culpeper, VA 22701
When: April 4 at 7 p.m.


Book gives unique insight on general  (Source is Culpeper Star Exponent)

Rob Humphreys
Managing Editor – Culpeper Star Exponent
Friday, March 28, 2008

Rick Williams and Ken Carpenter
Rick Williams, author of “Stonewall Jackson: Black Man’s Friend,” explores the famous general’s personal beliefs and his impact on the African-American community. (Contributed Photo) 
The title alone is enough to elicit a resounding “What the … ”In today’s era, a book called “Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend” might make most people scratch their heads or immediately label the author nuts.But get beyond the ingrained social baggage associated with the Confederacy’s (second) most beloved general and you’ll find that Richard G. Williams Jr. has crafted a convincing argument for why Thomas J. Jackson – the devout Presbyterian, stern military genius and hero of the Shenandoah Valley – was, indeed, the black man’s friend.Williams’ 223-page book, released in 2006 by Cumberland House Publishing, retails for $20.95 and has sold nearly 6,000 copies. “Stonewall” addresses a fascinating Virginia niche – a fusion of faith, race relations, Civil War history and modern remnants of Jackson’s legacy.

The book focuses on Jackson’s little known Sunday school class for slaves and free blacks in Lexington, the Rockbridge County town where he taught at the Virginia Military Institute before entering the war in 1861.

Long story short, Jackson left such an impression on the area’s African-American community that, to this day, a historically black church in Roanoke proudly displays a stained-glass window devoted to his memory. Descendants of his Sabbath class still tell stories about how their ancestors overcame illiteracy or strengthened their faith in Christ through Jackson’s tireless efforts.

Some of those who attended his class actually begged – much to Jackson’s initial refusal – to have him as their master. Alas, that is the reason Jackson owned a small number of slaves.
Such tidbits – combined with a well-researched, thoroughly documented analysis – make “Stonewall” a heart-warming read.

By today’s standards, Jackson, who did not espouse slavery yet believed the will of God played a role in its institution, would be considered anything but politically correct. Yet for his time and place, Jackson defied cultural norms with a progressive mindset and spiritual love that transcended color.

With courage to broach a sensitive subject and always cognizant not to come across as an apologist for America’s original sin, Williams deftly guides readers through their natural reticence to believe that a slave-holding Southern general could have been anything other than the stereotypical Rebel.
And for that, “Stonewall” deserves praise.

Rob Humphreys can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 128 or

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