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He was no longer viewed as the eccentric mathematics instructor from V.M.I. By early November of 1861, Major General Thomas J. Jackson was acclaimed as the mighty "Stonewall" the hero of First Manassas. As the first winter of the war approached, however, he was assigned a task that could likely overwhelm even a hero. With a thin force of troops he was expected to protect the Shenandoah Valley which had become the "breadbasket of the Confederacy." It was irreplaceable territory rich in wheat, oats, corn, hay and livestock and it was threatened from two directions by Federal armies.
To defend the Valley, Jackson was equipped with poorly armed, lightly trained militia, a smattering of artillery and a small force of cavalry. Posting his troops in the fields and forests near Winchester, Virginia, Jackson established headquarters for the Confederacy's Valley district and went to work building his army. Daily drill, hours of training, relentless discipline all were tools used by Jackson to forge a force of fighters. Couriers raced from camp to camp. Orders were issued, implemented and obeyed. And Jackson seemed to be everywhere.
Finally, he was ready. Better armed, better trained, and bolstered by the arrival of Jackson's matchless Stonewall Brigade, the raw materials of early November were fashioned into a powerful strike force capable of unleashing hammer-like blows on the enemy. And then Jackson struck. To defend, he attacked. Within months, Jackson and his men would be feared and famous for his remarkably successful Valley Campaign.
Stonewall had not only built an army he had created a legend.