Questions for Discussion
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1. Why does S.C. Gwynne consider Stonewall Jackson one of the most compelling characters of the Civil War
2. How did Jackson, an unpopular and highly eccentric college physics professor, become (in the space of fourteen months) the most famous military figure in the western world?
3. Why do you think Gwynne chose the title Rebel Yell 4.
Jackson’s Valley Campaign shows how often victory or defeat hangs on the thread of chance. How did small decisions greatly impact the outcome?
5. Gwynne is not afraid to show the different sides of Jackson—a contradictory figure, a man who rode his troops almost as hard as his horse, Little Sorrel, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of soldiers, but was in his private moments a loving husband and devoted Christian. Discuss Gwynne’s portrayal of the contradictions within his character.
6. How do Jackson’s personal views on slavery relate to his actions as a general?
7. Stonewall Jackson’s war-making strategies have merited generations of study. What in his strategies and leadership is significant today?
8. A review of Rebel Yell
noted that “praying soldiers were often socially shunned and professionally unrewarded.” How did Jackson’s religious convictions imbue his leadership? How did his faith differentiate him?
9. What do you think attracted Gwynne to Jackson as a subject? He seems to occupy a much smaller place in the minds of Americans than other Civil War figures like Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee. Was Rebel Yell
an attempt to correct that?
10. What surprised you most about Stonewall Jackson?
11. Do you consider Jackson an American hero? Why or why not? Did reading Rebel Yell
change your opinion? How?