Nicknames have been around forever. Whether they’re self-assigned or bestowed upon someone against their will, they have a tendency to stick. The following are six examples of nicknames given to famous men of the Civil War.
Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall) – at the First Battle of Bull Run, Jackson’s troops provided much needed reinforcements to the deteriorating Confederate lines. An onlooking officer commented saying, “Look at Jackson, standing there like a stone wall.” After that the nickname stuck. Jackson is considered one of the US’s best tactical generals. He was shot by friendly fire at Chancellorsville and died several days later from complications caused by the wounds.
Joseph Hooker (Fighting Joe) – mentioned previously in my post on terms originating from the Civil War, Hooker was a major general for the Union army. His nickname arose from a typo in a newspaper headline. The headline was supposed to read “Fighting — Joe Hooker Attacks Rebels”, but the dash was accidentally removed. This change brought about the nickname Fighting Joe. As it turns out, Hooker wasn’t fond of the nickname because he felt like it made him sound like a bandit or highwayman.
Ulysses S. Grant (Unconditional Surrender Grant) – Grant is infamous for being good at only two things in his life: being a family man and being a general. And at being a general he was very good. His nickname arose after he captured Fort Donelson in Tennessee from the Confederates. When calling for the Confederates’ surrender, Grant demanded “no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender”. When the public got wind of these terms, they joked that they had finally figured out what Grant’s initials stood for: Unconditional Surrender Grant.
William Tecumseh Sherman (Uncle Billy) – Sherman is probably best known for his end of the war campaign during which he implemented his scorched earth policies and burned several key southern towns such as Savannah and Columbia. Despite this image of Sherman as a ruthless military leader, he was loved and respected by his troops, who gave him the endearing nickname of Uncle Billy.
Winfield Scott (Old Fuss and Feathers) – Winfield Scott was the general-in-chief for the Union army at the opening of the Civil War. He held this post at the end of his 47 year military career during the course of which he served 13 consecutive presidential administrations. His nickname arose from his insistence that military men adhere to the strict rules of appearances.
Robert E. Lee (Granny Lee) – at the beginning of the war, Lee was in charge of troops in what is now West Virginia. His campaign was wholly unsuccessful and many people (including some of his men) insisted that this was due to Lee’s reluctance to fight. Because of this perceived timidity, his men started referring to him as Granny Lee.