The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862

By Gary W. Gallagher | Go to book overview

ROBERT K. KRICK


The Metamorphosis in
Stonewall Jackson's Public Image

Was there even a remote chance that in April 1862 Thomas J. Jackson might have served as the text for a northern soap advertisement? Certainly not. Yet within a few months, based primarily on Jackson's peripatetic operations in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, even Yankees were employing the southerner's fame as a sort of cultural icon. Pyles O.K. Soap claimed in the American Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated that fall, presumably with tongue firmly in cheek, that “Stonewall” fancied their product. “In the field,” the advertiser professed to know, “Stonewall Jackson nabs it, and sighs for more.” Ironically, phrenology in fact was one of Thomas Jackson's eccentric minor enthusiasms. Pyles O.K. Soap almost surely was not. In the aftermath of Jackson's 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, however, New York advertising executives knew their market.1

When General Jackson launched his epic Valley venture, he had no significant popular cachet. Published mention of the Valley often poked fun at (and at times exaggerated) the general's eccentricities, when it commented on him at all. Thirty-three days worked an absolute revolution in the perceptions of the Confederate populace. Between May 8, when the battle of McDowell signaled the start of Jackson's offensive, and June 9, when the battle of Port

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