Henry Rootes Jackson was born June 24, 1820, in Athens, Georgia, son of a prominent professor at the University of Georgia. Jackson graduated from Yale University in 1839. He practiced law in Savannah, and was appointed U.S. district attorney. In an ironic twist of history, Jackson served as colonel of the First Georgia Regiment during the Mexican War. During the years between the Mexican and Civil Wars Jackson held the offices of superior court judge and United States minister to Austria. In 1860, he was a delegate to the Charleston Democratic Convention, and in 1861 attended the Georgia Secession Convention. That year he was received an appointment as a Confederate States court judge, but on July 4 he was commissioned a Confederate brigadier general. Jackson was enroute from Richmond to Monterey with reinforcements for General Garnett’s Army of the Northwest when he learned of Garnett’s disastrous retreat from Laurel Hill. Jackson was ordered to assume command of the Army of the Northwest as the exhausted and demoralized troops straggled into Monterey. When General William W. Loring arrived a few days later to take command of the Northwestern army, Jackson was given a brigade which included Ramsey’s First Georgia. During General Robert E. Lee’s failed Cheat Mountain campaign, Jackson’s brigade demonstrated against the Union fort at Cheat Pass, and was the last Confederate command to be withdrawn. On October 3, Jackson’s troops were attacked at Camp Bartow on the Greenbrier River. Unable to make headway against Jackson’s entrenchments, the Union forces withdrew, giving the Army of the Northwest a much needed victory. Jackson resigned his Confederate commission in December and returned to Georgia to accept a commission from Governor Joseph E. Brown as a state Major General. Left without a command when his state troops were transferred to Confederate service, Jackson was attached to the staff of General W. H. T. Walker, who commanded a division in the Army of Tennessee. In September of 1863, he was reinstated as a Confederate brigadier, and commanded a brigade during the battles of Jonesboro and Franklin. During the Confederate defeat at Nashville (December 15-16, 1864), his brigade was surrounded and captured. Jackson was first sent to Johnson’s Island, Ohio, then was transferred to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. Released in July of 1865, Jackson returned to Georgia and resumed his law practice. He served as United States minister to Mexico from 1885 to 1887, but resigned in a dispute over U.S. policy. He was appointed as a director of the Georgia Central Railroad and Banking, and served as president of the Georgia Historical Society. Henry R. Jackson died in Savannah on May 23, 1898.
On a personal note, I will be traveling over the next week. On Tuesday night I will be in northern New Hampshire, speaking to the Colebrook Historical Society about my ancestors, William Henry Marshall and Cummings Marshall. Readers of this blog will remember my posts on the two brothers about how they came to serve on opposing sides in the Civil War.