Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
Old English stanwalle (n.); see stone (n.) + wall (n.). As nickname of Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson (1824-1863), bestowed 1861 on the occasion of the First Battle of Bull Run, supposedly by Gen. Bernard Bee, urging his brigade to rally around Jackson, who was "standing like a stone wall." Bee was killed in the battle; the account of the nickname appeared in Southern newspapers within four days of the battle.
On the face of it this account has no character of authenticity, and the words ascribed to Bee smack less of the battlefield than of the editorial sanctum. ... It seems inherently probable that something was said by somebody, during or immediately after the battle, that likened Jackson or his men or both to a stone wall. [R.M. Johnston, "Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics," Boston, 1913]
"to obstruct," 1914, from metaphoric use of stone wall for "act of obstruction" (1876). Related: Stonewalled; stonewalling.
: A sustained stonewall, no one's been willing to answer questions for a weekverb
To delay and obstruct, esp by stubbornly keeping silent: I want you all to stonewall it
[1914+; fr a cricket term used of a determined batsman who blocked everything as if hewere a stone wall; in the US probably influenced by the stolid reputation of the Confederate general Thomas J ''Stonewall'' Jackson; the term became prominent during the early 1970s Watergate scandal]