John Williamson Palmer was a physician, poet, playwright, and newspaper corrspondent who wrote this poem during the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. The song was quickly put to music by an unknown composer and sung by Jackson's men during the eight remaining months of the General's life.

The line "pay off Ashby's score" refers to General Turner Ashby, Jackson's cavalry chief during his famous Valley campaign, who was killed by Union troops while fighting a rear-guard action near Harrisonburg, Virginia, June 6, 1862.

Popular legend has it that the original copy of "Stonewall Jackson's Way" was lost and later found -- bloodied -- on the body of a sergeant in the Stonewall Brigade who was killed at Winchester, Virginia. The truth is that the piece was originally published in Baltimore, Md., as a clandestinely circulated broadside. In order to deflect the suspicion of the Union Provost Marshall's Office away from Palmer -- the true author -- the legend of the bloody paper was concocted. The ruse was successful enough to have obscured the true origin of "Stonewall Jackson's Way" for a more than a century.

"Stonewall Jackson's Way"

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Last modified 16-April-2001