Thursday, March 23, 2017

Women's History Month Titles: Mrs Stonewall Jackson, Pillar of Charlotte

The author of more than thirty books of Southern history- many about prominent Southern women of the Civil War era- Harnett Kane (1910-84) was stricken by Alzheimer’s Disease fifty years ago and entered a seventeen-year twilight that ended with his death at the age of 73.


His slow fade from public awareness contributed to his becoming, and remaining, one of the most unjustly forgotten historians of his generation, particularly in Louisiana studies.

He is perhaps best remembered for his New Orleans books, and for a trilogy of biographies: of Mrs Robert E. Lee, Mrs Jefferson Davis, and this one:

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Kane, Harnett T., The Gallant Mrs. Stonewall (Doubleday & Co., 1st ed. 1957). LOC 57-11426. A biography of the wife and widow of Civil War General Stonewall Jackson, whose long and eventful life ended in Charlotte, NC in 1915. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, mylar cover, very good condition. Inscribed by the author to Charlotte NC arts maven Gladys Lavitan, May 14, 1957.  HBB price: $50 obo.

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Born on her family’s plantation near Lincolnton in 1831, Mary Anna Jackson was the daughter of Davidson College’s first president, a striking young woman who first met Stonewall Jackson on  visit to Lexington, Virginia circa 1850. Jackson-then on the faculty of Virginia Military Institute- married another woman, who died in 1854; he called on Miss Morrison at Christmas 1856 and they were married the following July.

The Jacksons had two children in their Lexington years; one survived to adulthood. When General Jackson went to war in 1861, Mrs Jackson moved South to Charlotte and lived with relatives. Visiting Jackson in the field a few times, she was at his bedside when he died there May 10, 1863.

She outlived him by fifty-two years and never remarried; Mrs Jackson became known as The Widow of the Confederacy. Charlotte was her base; while away caring for her father on the plantation, then living with her daughter’s family in Richmond and- briefly- San Diego, she always came back to Charlotte, where she kept the General’s saddle on the newel post of the stairway. She remained a fixture of the past glory of the South even as the city grew up around her home, where she died in 1915.

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Mrs Jackson was herself an author of two books about her husband, a memoir, and edited a collection her letters.


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