Nathan Andrew Jackson (1838-1864) was nearly seven feet tall. His great height all but guaranteed his place as flag bearer for the 21st Mississippi Infantry Company C, also known as Stephens Rifles or Stephens Guards.
The 21st Mississippi formed part of the famous Barksdale Brigade. They participated in campaigns in both eastern and western theaters of the war (“west” was any area outside of Virginia and the Carolinas).
Nathan enlisted in the 1st Mississippi Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel William L. Brandon. The battalion was reorganized as the 21st Mississippi Infantry during winter encampment at Manassas, VA. Harsh weather and rough roads made it nearly impossible to move an army during winter months. Both Union and Confederate armies typically ceased field operations during the coldest months of the year.
The Barksdale Brigade participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. They saw combat at Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg. Entire books have been written about the Mississippi regiments at Gettysburg.
Nathan must have conducted himself well in these engagements. His service record includes several promotions. Shortly before his death, he received a promotion to 4th Sergeant presumably to recognize performance of duties during Gettysburg.
The 21st Mississippi spent the winter of 1862-1863 in Fredericksburg. There is a famous photograph of Mississippi troops standing on a ruined bridge on the north side of the Rappahannock River. Although some of Nathan Jackson’s descendants believe that Nathan is visible in the photograph, this claim is questionable. Civil War historian Eric Mink makes a convincing argument that another Mississippi officer is standing on the trestle. This article contains high resolution closeups of the soldiers – Confederates on the Railroad Bridge.
Although Nathan is probably not included in this photograph, he was in Fredericksburg at this time. No doubt, he stood on the bridge at some point looking at Federal soldiers on the other side of the river.