From the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller, Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero.
Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.
In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked—hope—and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.
Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.
The book is the result of a lifelong interest in the Civil War and particularly in Jackson, whom I consider one of its most compelling characters. The book is really about transformation: how an unpopular and highly eccentric college physics professor becomes, in the space of fourteen months, the most famous military figure in the western world. I have made a series of research trips to various archives and battlefields. The title comes from the fact that Jackson invented the Rebel Yell, a pretty impressive thing to put on your resume.
“Journalist Gwynne follows his bestselling Empire of the Summer Moon with a stimulating study of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Gwynne tells Jackson’s story without editorializing and readers are likely to agree that, without Jackson, Lee ‘would never again be quite so brilliant,’ while even in the North, Jackson was considered, rather than a rebel, ‘a gentleman and…fundamentally an American.'” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW
“Gwynne’s vivid account of Jackson’s Civil War run, which ended with his death at the Battle of Chancellorsville, is a riveting, cover-to-cover read for history buffs.” — BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW
“With the reporter’s eye for the revealing vignette and the storyteller's ear for the rhythm of human striving, S. C. Gwynne gives us a beautifully penetrating account of the meteoric rise and tragic death of the most legendary of Civil War soldiers.” — H. W. Brands, author of The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
“Rebel Yell is the best biography of Stonewall Jackson I have ever read. The scholarship is exemplary, the narrative riveting and richly textured. With a rare combination of unflinching objectivity and genuine compassion, Rebel Yell unraveled for me the enigma of Stonewall Jackson. A magnificent achievement, Rebel Yell represents a milestone in Civil War literature.” — Peter Cozzens, author of Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign
“The great tragedy of modern historiography is that more historians don’t write like S.C. Gwynne. In this book on Stonewall Jackson’s Civil War career, Gwynne has fashioned a fast-paced narrative of a man complex and enigmatic, awkward and exceptional. Gwynne has taken on a giant figure of quirks and brilliance who demands both restraint and a facile pen, and he delivers in vivid form.” — John Hennessy, author of First Battle of Manassas: An End To Innocence and Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas