Is this Stonewall Jackson in Camp?

Jackson Winchester


Stonewall Jackson had two portrait photographs taken during the Civil War – one in Winchester, Virginia, in November 1862 and the other near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in April 1863. No other period photographs of Jackson were believed to exist. 

The image above, however, supposedly shows Stonewall Jackson leaning on a fence in camp during the spring of 1862, also in Winchester, Virginia. The original ambrotype was said to be owned by Capt. Fred A. Briscoe, an assistant quartermaster in Jackson’s army. According to the Briscoe family, Fred is the individual standing in front of the tent to the right. The soldier seated inside the tent was identified by the family as James Briscoe, while a slave named “Smitty” was said to be the young man standing outside the fence.    

The ambrotype was passed down to Fred Briscoe’s niece, Mrs. Louise Briscoe of Charles Town, West Virginia. Following Mrs. Briscoe’s death in 1979, the family discovered that the original ambrotype, which had been kept in a chest, had been replaced at some point with a fake. According to news reports at the time, the fake was a modern-day photograph of the original image pasted to a piece of glass and shellacked to resemble an ambrotype. 

In 1984, a Sharpsburg, Maryland, man was arrested, charged, and subsequently acquitted at trial of receiving and transporting the stolen ambrotype. The image itself was never recovered and remains missing. Fortunately, the Briscoe family also owned a circa 1910 photographic print of the ambrotype that had been produced in Washington D.C. by the Klinedinst studio. Photographs of the print were produced in 1984 by the Associated Press to accompany newspapers articles reporting the theft of the ambrotype. A picture of the print was also published in the Spring 1988 issue of the now defunct photographic magazine Incidents of the War.

The Klinedinst photo left the Briscoe family and changed hands twice before the new owner of the print put it up for auction with Christie’s in May 1998. Described by the auction house as the “only surviving print of the one original ambrotype,” it reportedly sold for $21,850. 

But is the person leaning on the fence really Stonewall Jackson? If so, it would be the only known full-length, standing image of him, and the lone one taken of him in the field. Newspaper reports of the 1984 theft trial recount some experts testifying they did not believe it to be Jackson in the image. Others have suggested it may be mapmaker Jedediah Hotchkiss instead. Below is a close-up of the individual in the print next to the two known Civil War images of Stonewall Jackson.  Is it him?




  1. I do not believe that is Jackson. Looking at the two photos I know to be him I would say that is definitely not Jackson. By the shape of his head, eye sockets and the way his hair on the side of the temple lie.It isn’t him.

  2. I do not think this is Jackson because: 1. he was cavalry & they generally worn hats with a bream, 2. he was a general & generals generally wore double-breasted coats even when in the field, with the arrangement of buttons showing their rank, i.e, groups of 2 buttons or groups of 3 buttons or the highest rank at 4 buttons. The person shown on left does have cavalry boots on. The man on the right who is identified as a member of the family in the military, interestingly, is wearing a coat that appears to be double-breasted with brass buttons on both sides which would indicate a general’s rank. Would an assistant quartermaster be a general? The body language suggests that the man on the left is just stopping by, & the tent belongs to the man on the right hanging on his clothes line.

    • Christine, I agree with much that you cited in your comment, but Jackson was never in the cavalry. Upon graduation from West Point, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt of artillery, and served in that branch in the Mexican War. He later was an instructor in artillery at VMI. During the War Between the States, he was an infantry officer, period.

    • Jackson was never Cavalry. He was Artillery. And during Confederate service he commanded infantry brigade, then the Army of the Valley which later became the 2nd Corp Army of Northern Virginia.
      The Jacket means nothing, many officers wore non regulation uniforms in he field. Especially in the summer. Check out a photo of JEB Stuart wearing a similar she’ll jacket with a flannel shirt underneath …. Also, A.P. Hill wore a red shirt in the field. Hell, General Lee wore a Colonels rank on his uniform for the whole war…

      • I was looking at the ear… And the ear looks the same . Also, the beard is a little thicker but the line of the beard on his cheeks is the same also, and Jackson did wear that style hat pushed forward on his head like that…. I just don’t know

  3. If it was Stonewall, and I say that loosely, there would have been a greater outcome on the part of the Confederacy at Gettysburg and beyond. The man was a strategic genius, who’s strategies were used in WWI and II and beyond. Granted, unless his remains are exhumed at Lexington, plus his arm near Chancellorsville, to prove DNA, we really won’t know. For now, though, I do not believe this is Stonewall and that he has in fact, crossed over the river and is resting under the shade of the trees.

  4. If this is Thomas Jackson, he was very relaxed in this picture. He has his hand in his pocket, but whos to say he wasn’t relax in camp. What Photographers took Confederate photos that where you need to start.

  5. Yes, it’s Thomas J. Jackson. His dress is how he was described by many, including his habit of pulling his “kepi” hat down over his eyes.

    • If you want to believe something then you try to prove it, the same go for the opposite. I have been looking into this for over a week. Im no excerpt, but first of all if this Jedediah Hotchkiss then why does he have on a Confederate Uniform he was a map maker not a Soldier, and if you were going to put on a Uniform to blend in you sure as hell would not put on a Generals uniform. The guy standing and leaning on the fence has on a Generals Uniform. Now let’s look a picture of Jedediah Hotchkiss, his ears stick out from his head, the guy on the fence his ears do not stick out. Then look at the hands Thomas Jackson had long hands, ears nose and hands never change. And last but not least I found a service record for one Major Fred A. Briscoe. In his service record is a Prisoner of war release form on Fred A. Briscoe he is describe as being 5 foot 11 inches, all this matches up with the Photo. I also looked who could have taken the photo. I believe it was taken by J.D. Edwards a Confederate Photographer who did a lot of outdoor shots. I have read other review Thomas Jackson was not Calvary he was Infantry during the War. So in my opinion after looking at all the evidence, there is nobody this could be other than Gen Thomas Jackson. I love this photo it a great piece of History !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Warren Doyle,
        This is NOT Stonewall Jackson. This gentleman is wearing a shell jacket with a kepi, Jackson always wore a frock coat and a McDowell hat. Jackson wore cavalry boots, these are artillery / infantry officers boots (below the knee) and are without spurs . The profile does not match his, there is nothing in this picture that says otherwise. I have studied Jackson for many years. I’ve been portray Jackson for many years participating in living history presentations and
        Civil War re-enactments through out the mid-west. I hope this was useful.

        John P. Luna

  6. Jackson was never known to wear a shell-jacket, which is what the soldier in the picture is wearing. Nor was he ever known to slouch-many, many first-hand accounts mention his ramrod straight posture. And WHY would he be hanging out with an “assistant quarter-master”? I’m convinced that this is NOT Stonewall Jackson.

    • Exactly.

      It just CAN’T be him.

      1. The man in question is wearing a type 2 Richmond Depo shell jacket.

      A coat only issued to the rank and file .

      2. He has only one row of buttons.

      Jackson was an officer and all Confederate officers had two rows of buttons or more.

      3. The kepi is a low rank issue.

      (Given to privates on up to 2nd Lt.’s)

      4 He is not wearing NCO boots.

      5. His hair rests on the wrong side.


  7. The facial characteristics of this man pictures is hard to compare. But as I’ve researched Jackson would have had a double breasted frock by this period. He wore a forage cap often with the brim pulled down so tight you could not see his eyes clearly. He more than likely had his artillery issued boots as in many accounts. Jackson often road with his shoulders forward and high with a slouched head. It’s quite hard to tell for certain if it is or not. Personally I have doubts that it is Jackson. He was too popular in southern as well as northern culture then and now for this photo not to have been a bigger hit now or then.

      • I’m a photo nut – always looking for a miraculous discovery (such as this would be if it were Jackson), and I’ve actually found a couple, so it’s not impossible. The problem is that if you actually own the photo, it’s almost impossible to look at it in an unbiased way. I can only imagine how badly the discoverer of this photo wanted it to be Stonewall Jackson!

        • This photo sold at Christy’s for over 20k standing center Stonewall Jackson. I think it is Jackson and Stewart center and right

  8. This photo is NOT General Jackson …
    1) The General was known for his bolt-upright posture which he maintained for what he considered health reasons.
    2) The General would not have been caught in a photo about to be taken slouching as this individual does.
    3) In fact, the General very much did NOT prefer to have his photo taken at all. He considered photos to be vanity before God.
    4) The individual in the photo clearly appears to be wearing NCO stripes on his trousers.
    And just for the record, the General was NOT 6 feet tall. On his application for travel after his first wife passed away, in his own handwriting, he is 5′ 9 1/2″ tall. Additionally, all you have to do is speak with the VMI museum curator (I have) to understand that his still-existent uniform dimensions confirm a height of about 5″9″ to 5″ 10″ …
    Like green cuffs and collars on the Irish Brigade’s sack coats, confusion reigns …

  9. Additional comments:
    The individual in question is wearing an enlisted shell jacket which would be confirmed by the NCO stripes on his trouser.
    He is NOT wearing riding boots … those appear to be artillerist’s boots. And I’m betting those solid NCO stripes on his britches (that NO self-respecting General would ever be wearing) are RED. Officers were mounted, and therefore were essentially outfitted as cavalry. That was determined by environment, NOT by fashion.
    General Jackson did NOT wear a kepi … he was well-known for and fully documented by those who knew him best, wearing a forage cap, a bummer! In the field, it was NOT uncommon for many men to pull their brim down over their eyes. Remember, they didn’t have sun glasse and it could be VERY bright! NOT JACKSON..

  10. I’m 98 % sure it’s stonewall Jackson . The hat doesn’t mean a thing maybe he like that hat ,, he’s relaxed and hard to say how tall he is ….the ear match. Hair line match. Beard match it’s him …..

  11. What I see is a different jaw line in these two guys, Gen Jackson appears to have a very prominent jaw line, almost “Popeye” like while the other fella has a much straighter type jaw line, nose to chin being on an equal vertical line

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