Jackson's parents were poor. His father and sister died of typhoid fever in 1826. His mother remarried in 1830 but her husband disliked her children and little Thomas was sent to live with relatives. His mother in any case died in 1831, leaving Thomas an orphan at the age of six, to be raised by a paternal uncle.
He had a poor schooling but he still managed to get into West Point and graduate with respectable grades in 1846. He went into the Army and served in Mexico but resigned in 1852 to teach at the Virginia Military Institute, although he was not a very good teacher. He was also a farmer and an unenthusiastic slave owner, but when the Civil War broke out he was drafted into the Confederate army as a major. He soon became one of their most valued generals, although sometimes erratic in his behavior, and he was a loyal friend and lieutenant to General Robert E. Lee.
He was shot by accident by one of his own soldiers and died soon afterwards of pneumonia.
He is usually reckoned one of the greatest 10 American soldiers of all time.
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