The Other Gen. Jackson: William Lowther 'Mudwall' Jackson

By John Wickline | December 26, 2013

West Virginians, particularly in these parts of north-central West Virginia, are keenly aware of the history and legacy of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. There's the statue in front of the Harrison County Courthouse, the historical sign and a plaque marking his boyhood, all just in Clarksburg. That doesn't take into account Jackson's Mill, Stonewall Resort and Stonewall Jackson Lake in neighboring Lewis County.

But there was another Jackson, this one also from Clarksburg, who led Confederate troops during the Civil War. But unlike his more famous cousin, William Lowther Jackson was tagged with an unflattering nickname of “Mudwall.”

William Lowther Jackson (right) was born Feb. 3, 1825, in Clarksburg. By the age of 23, he was serving as a judge in Ritchie County after being admitted to the Virginia bar in 1847. He became well established in state politics prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, serving in the state senate, the House of Delegates, a state attorney and as the state's Lieutenant Governor from 1857-1860.

Jackson, like his second cousin, was a Southern loyalist. With the country on the verge of war, he attempted to control the militia in Wood County, where he was serving as a circuit judge at the time. During the Parkersburg Jail House Riots in 1861, Jackson took on the militia's colonel in a fist fight. A few days later, Jackson dismissed charges against three Southern guerrillas who had been charged with burning bridges. Spectators drew pistols in the courtroom, forcing Jackson to flee the city.

Jackson joined the Confederate Army as a private early in the war. But after helping to organize an infantry unit, he was promoted to the rank of colonel, and he served on the staff of his famous cousin “Stonewall” Jackson. It was there he was jokingly nicknamed “Mudwall,” one of at least three Confederate officers to have been nicknamed as such.

Jackson led troops against Union Gen. Thomas Harris, whom Jackson had been a neighbor to when both lived in Ritchie County. Jackson later served under Gen. W.E. Jones during the raids into the Little Kanawha Valley, earning a promotion to brigadier general in 1864, which he used to organize a calvary brigade. He commanded the Confederate forces at the Battle of Droop Mountain.

In all, Jackson led troops in campaigns through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. In May 1865, he was among the last of the Confederate leaders to disband his unit, doing so in Lexington, Va.

After the war, Jackson spent some time in Mexico, then tried to return to practice law in Parkersburg. State law, however, barred him from practicing law, and finding the atmosphere hostile toward him, he moved to Louisville. He practiced law there until 1872 and was elected as a circuit judge, serving in that capacity until his death at the age of 65 on March 26, 1890.

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