The content of this little note is nowhere mentioned in Carman's manuscript. Nor is there much mention made of this rather scandalous claim in the vast annals of Jackson historiography. The venerable Robert K. Krick made reference to it in his article "Stonewall Jackson’s Deadly Calm: Coming to Terms with the Most Compelling and Mysterious Civil War Hero,” which appeared in the December 1996 issue of American Heritage. "During his youth Jackson’s irregular upbringing had included more horse racing than piety," wrote Krick, and, he continued, "A story about his siring an illegitimate child is unsubstantiatable and probably inaccurate, but its acceptance by some of Jackson’s Confederate staff suggests their awareness of a past completely alien to the rigidly decorous adult." Historian James Robertson in his tome Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, also made passing reference to this claim. As Robertson noted, a Dr. William Bland of Weston, Lewis County, [West] Virginia, alleged in 1863 that during Jackson's ten-month tenure as constable of Lewis County some twenty years earlier he "became wild. . . .[and was] said to have had an illegitimate child (by a Miss Brown), still living as Miss Racer & now reputable." [Robertson, 20]. Like Krick, Robertson, too, dismissed the allegation, writing that, "No corroborating evidence of any kind has ever surfaced in support of Bland's assertion." [794, n.71].
Because of that lack of "corroborating evidence," I will also have to dismiss this allegation as untrue as well, unless and until something else does 'surface.'
Still, it is interesting that Ezra Carman, the noted authority on Antietam and a faithful historian, felt the need to write this claim down. Perhaps he was so surprised to learn of it that he just had to write it down. (Just as I was so surprised to learn of it that I just had to compose this post).
The allegation does not appear anywhere in Carman's manuscript, but it is apparent that he, at least, accepted it as the truth, trusting upon the authority of the statements made to him by none other than Jackson's former staff officers, including the famed mapmaker, Jed Hotchkiss.
Yet, if it is untrue, then the question thus must become why Jackson's own staffers not only believed it but went so far as to write of it in their post-war correspondence with Ezra Carman. Because they knew Jackson as nothing other than a strict, rigid disciplinarian and a man so pious and morally-exacting, the allegations of him fathering an illegitimate child has the ring of a so-called "urban legend" to it. A legend Jackson's officers whispered to one another around the campfire; a myth, perhaps, that grew more fantastic in each telling.
But, who knows? Maybe, just maybe, they were telling the truth. They themselves must have believed it; they wouldn't have told Carman if they hadn't.
Regardless of its veracity, this whole allegation has nothing whatsoever to do with Jackson's role and that of his division at Antietam, and that is what I set to discover when I first cracked open those Ezra Carman boxes at the library. . .time for me to get back on track.
A Youthful Thomas Jonathan Jackson