Posts Tagged ‘Civil War Reenactor’

There is a comparatively small old house in Lexington, Virginia that belonged to Thomas Jonathan Jackson from 1859 to 1861.   He was “Stonewall” Jackson, a confederate general in the American Civil War who was Robert E. Lee’s right hand.  It was the only house Jackson ever owned.  He died in the war when he was only 39 years old.

I was a volunteer docent for six years, showing The Jackson House to visitors and lecturing in 30 minute tours through the kitchen with its wood cooking stove, the entryway and parlor with a lot of his original furniture, and his bedroom with its rope bed.  Did you know the saying, “Sleep tight,” came from the use of rope beds?  The ropes holding a mattress firm would eventually begin to sag and would have to be tightened.

The Stonewall Jackson House
Lexington, Virginia

Each group passing through the house had its own unique characteristics.  Like there was a contingent of third grade children who came down from the mountains.  They had never been to a city before.

At one time in recent history, the house was converted into a hospital and was the only hospital for the entire county.  A friend of ours had his broken leg set there when he was a teenager.  And many people who come through in the groups were actually  born in the Stonewall Jackson House.


Oddly enough, Stonewall Jackson returned while I was a tour guide.   And he wanted to go through the house!   He was a ghostly apparition, but a real live, flesh and blood fellow, in full confederate dress with a long sword at his waist, and looking very smart indeed.

“HELLO,” he boomed in a very commanding voice.  “I’m Thomas Jonathan Jackson, come to visit my old home.” 

“That’s nice,” said our receptionist.  “But you will have to pay the usual admission fee.”

“Absolutely NOT,” boomed Stonewall.  “It’s MY house and I should not have to pay to see it!”

“I’m sorry sir, but I am under orders not to allow anyone in without paying for an admission ticket.”

“Can’t you see how I am dressed?  I am Stonewall Jackson returned and this is MY house!”

This was a serious conversation indeed and though the receptionist was quite flustered, she stood her ground.  The rest of us stood around too, but in stunned silence.  We were imagining Stonewall really had returned in ghostlike fashion.  And what right did we have to charge him for visiting his own home?

The-Ghost-of-Stonewall Jackson eventually gave up and returned to his regiment.  It turned out he was a modern day Civil War Reenactor, who looked exactly like the real thing, complete with beard and fully dressed for the part.  We never did find out why he made such a scene, and as far as I know, he never came back to pay his fee or to see his old house.

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