GENERAL JACKSON'S UNIFORM CONSERVATION COMPLETE
In December 1925, Julia Jackson Christian (Mrs. Randolph) Preston, the granddaughter of Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson, presented several of his personal belongings to the Virginia Military Institute. Among these items was the VMI instructor's uniform that General Jackson wore at the beginning of the War, most notably at the Battle of First Manassas, where he earned his famous nickname "Stonewall."
In the summer of 1997, Virginia Division UDC raised $2,100 -- the entire amount necessary to fund a conservation of the trousers -- and presented it to VMI following the burial of Little Sorrel, Jackson's warhorse. The newly conserved trousers went on display at the VMI Museum October 8, 2000. Virginia Daughters then turned their attention towards raising the $6,700 needed to conserve the matching frock coat.
Three year laters, on October 10, 2003, VMI Museum Director Colonel Keith Gibson brought the fully conserved uniform from Lexington to Staunton, Va., and unveiled it on Historical Evening at the 108th annual Virginia Division convention.
The uniform, displayed on a stand believed to be the same height as General Jackson, was flanked by an honor guard of VMI cadets who stood at attention throughout the evening. Colonel Gibson shared some of the uniform's history, including an anecdote about how its blue color had on at least one occasion allowed Jackson to evade almost certain capture by Federal troops. He also pointed out a spot over the left hip that had been neatly mended by Jackson' servant Jim after the General had been grazed by a bullet.
The fully conserved uniform will be on permanent display at the VMI Museum in Lexington.
Front of coat before conservation
Back of coat before conservation
The frock coat, so called because of the "skirt" attached to the body and extending down near the knee, was first mandated by U.S. Army regulations in 1851 and remained in use until 1872.