The Friends of Preston Library hosted its Fall Program on Thursday, 13 November at 3 p.m. in the Turman Room, Preston Library. Our guest speaker was Mr. S. C. Gwynne, who gave a talk based upon his recently published and best-selling book, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. The book has received outstanding reviews. For example, Peter Cozzens, author of Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign wrote, “Rebel Yell is the best biography of Stonewall Jackson I have ever read. . . . A magnificent achievement, Rebel Yell represents a milestone in Civil War literature.”
Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.
Mr. Gwynne wrote, “The book is the result of a lifelong interest in the Civil War and particularly in Jackson, whom I consider one of its most compelling characters. The book is really about transformation: how an unpopular and highly eccentric college physics professor becomes, in the space of fourteen months, the most famous military figure in the western world. I have made a series of research trips to various archives and battlefields. It’s title comes from the fact that Jackson invented the Rebel Yell, a pretty impressive thing to put on your resume.”
Mr. Gwynne spoke to a group of about 90 persons and presented a stimulating, educational, and engaging media presentation on Jackson–which included the “Rebel Yell.” The author answered questions following the talk and signed his book Rebel Yell.