PROFESSOR “HELL AND THUNDER” JACKSON GRADES HIS 14 STUDENTS IN VMI’S CLASS OF 1859: ALL WENT ON TO SERVE AS OFFICERS IN THE ARMY OF THE CONFEDERACY
(JACKSON, Thomas J. "Stonewall"). Partly printed autograph document signed—Virginia Military Institute Grading Report. [Lexington]: no publisher, June 17, 1859. Quarto, one leaf of pale blue laid stationery, 7-3/4 by 10 inches, printed and engrossed by Jackson in ink on recto, docketed in ink by Jackson on verso. WITH: Carte-de-visit vintage albumen photograph measuring 2-1/2 by 4 inches.
Scarce partly printed 1859 class report signed “T.J. Jackson / Prof.” to Col. F.H. Smith, Superintendent, Virginia Military Institute. Completely filled out by Jackson, with the names and grades of his 14 students, all of whom went on to serve as officers in the Army of the Confederacy, and docketed by Jackson on verso. Jackson taught at Virginia Military Institute—where he was known to cadets as “Hell and Thunder”—for ten years before the outbreak of the Civil War.
Three years after distinguishing himself in the Mexican War, in 1851, "Jackson resigned from the army to accept a professorship of optics and artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. He spent the next ten years—a fourth of his life—at VMI. There the Jackson of fact and legend emerged… Jackson was one of VMI's poorest instructors. He was too rigid, too inflexible in his presentations, too demanding of his students. Cadets quickly made him the butt of jokes and pranks. They referred to him as 'Tom Fool,' 'Hell and Thunder,' and 'crazy as damnation" (ANB).
Over 50 words have been penned by Stonewall Jackson as he filled out this weekly class report for the week ending June 7th, 1859, 2d Sec., 1st class, Artillery. In the first two columns, Jackson has listed the names of the 14 students in his class, numbering them 1-14. His class met on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The "Scale of Daily Merit" (daily grade) is "Thorough 3" "Good 2.5" "Fair 2" "Tolerable 1.5" "Very Imperfect 1" "Complete Failure 0" with "9" being the three day "Maximum for the Week." Except for first name initials for three cadets, Jackson has only written the last names of the students in his class: "Green," "Massenburg," "Cooke," "Palmer," "Hill G," "Ryland," "Williams," "Henderson," "Ham," "Hardaway," "Mears," "Boyd," "Kerr J," "Hill E." Prof. Jackson gave 11 of his 14 students the maximum 9, one 8.9, one 8.7 and one, marked absent all week, received no grade. In the "Progress during the Week" box at the right, Jackson wrote "on genl. review of Arty tactics Cooke leaving leaving [sic] Arty recitation on the 13 & not returning." At the bottom Jackson has penned "To / Col. F.H. Smith / Supt V.M.I. / T.J. Jackson / Prof."
All of Jackson's students went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army, as did Jackson himself, of course. Of these, Titus Vespasian Williams rose to Colonel, and was wounded at Cedar Mountain, at Chancellorsville and again at Cold Harbor; he went on to practice medicine after the war. Octavius Cazenove Henderson reached the rank of Captain in 1862, and was wounded in that same year; he went on to teach at VMI after the war. Joseph Hutchinson Ham was made a Lieutenant Colonel in 1862, and was praised for "conspicuous gallantry" at Malvern Hill; twice he was wounded in action, the first time at Second Manassas in 1862. Charles Jones Green became a Captain, was wounded in action several times, and reached the rank of Major by 1864; his regimental commander called him "a most gallant and efficient officer." John William Kerr was promoted to Captain in 1862; he was one of half a dozen who claimed to have turned General Robert E. Lee's horse in the famous "Lee to the rear" incident on May 6, 1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness. He moved north and lived in Brooklyn as a merchant after the war. Thomas Massie Boyd was badly injured in a fall at the First Battle of Manassas; he served as a chaplain for the rest of the war. Though Daniel Horace Hardaway took his M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1861, he served the Confederacy with Company E of the Third Virginia Cavalry as a surgeon. When Giles Buckner Cooke died in 1937, he was believed to be the last surviving member of the staffs of Lee, Beauregard, Bragg, Jones and Cocke; he served as Lee's Inspector General and acting Chief Inspector 1864-65—he carried Lee's message that Petersburg would be evacuated to authorities of that city. Levin W. Mears was the only one of the 14 who died during the war—he died in 1862 of typhoid fever in Richmond. (More extensive biographies of each cadet, including those not mentioned here, are available.). Together with a carte-de-visite albumen photograh of Jackson, circa 1855, from the New York studio of Gurney & Son.
Two faint horizontal fold lines. Lightly foxed, bit of toning near edges. Fine condition.