“An Infinite Gainer”

It was on this day in 1863 that the Confederacy lost one of their greatest weapons, “Stonewall”  Jackson. His death had,  in my opinion a rather large effect on the “fate” of the Confederacy. I am loathe to say that though, because there is no such thing as fate. God’s providential hand has been seen throughout all of history. He causes or prevents events to happen in history and the present day. The death of Jackson was one of those events. I believe he did not want the confederacy to win, it wasn’t part of his providential plan. “Stonewall’s” death was not the thing that caused the Confederacy to lose the war but it helped. So, with that said let us look to the circumstances surrounding the wounding and death of the well loved “stonewall” Jackson.

On May 1st, 1863 the battle of Chancellorsville began. The 115,000 man army of Hooker squared up to the 60,000 man army of Lee. Lee’s numbers were so small because he had divided his army into two part: one to guard Fredericksburg and one to face of with the juggernaut of the Union Army of the Potomac.

The Union Army was drawn up in a line around the Chancellor house.  A tavern in the middle of the Wilderness. The two armies collided and the fighting began at Chancellorsville. Hooker, being on the defensive hoped that Lee would make an ill-fated attack in the tangled woods of the Wilderness. So he  made his line around the Chancellor house strong defensively. Lee made the attack but  it was a small one. He divided his army once again. This time a small force kept Hooker busy in the front while the larger part of the army under the command of Jackson began their march to reach the flank of the Union Army.

The extreme right flank was held by Oliver O. Howard on the 2nd of May. Jackson, despite the confusion caused by the dense woods of the Wilderness, marched to the edge of the woods opposite Howard’s flank. Howard and his men were in the middle of supper when Jackson arrived on the scene two hours before dusk. Jackson totally routed the Howard’s 11 Corps. It was said he “rolled them up like a cigar.” The Union Army ran pell-mell before Jackson’s Virginians.

Jackson, along with his staff members rode on ahead of the army on a reconnaissance misson. It was now long past dusk. The woods in the Wilderness were very dark at night. Jackson and his small contingency stopped to gain their bearings. The 17th North Carolina brigade under James Lane heard Jackson and mistook him for enemy cavalry and fired on them. Captain James Powers Smith yelled out to the the North Carolinians said “”Cease firing. You are firing on your own men!” Jackson was shot three times. Once in the right hand and twice in the left arm, shattering the bone and warranting amputation.

Jackson was removed from the field on a litter. Two of the litter bearings were killed causing him to fall to the ground twice.  They took him to a nearby field hospital for treatment. He was from

The ruins of the Wilderness tavern (courtesy Brother's War http://www.brotherswar.com/Chancellorsville.htm)

 here transported to the wilderness tavern where his left arm was amputated just below the shoulder and the ball wasemoved from his right hand. From here they trasnported him to Guinea Station, the place where he would die.

Jackson spent his last days in a small farmhouse on Fairfield Plantation at Guinea Station.  He was surrounded by his staff members, his faithful doctor Hunter McGuire, and his wife Anna and daughter Julia. He died not from his wounds but from Pneumonia. He died May 10th 1863. His final words were “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” With that he drew his last breath and died. Lee said “He has lost his left arm but I have lost my right.” His death marked the loss of one of the most able generals the Confederacy had.  For the rest of the war and the rest of time he is and was missed dearly. In honor of him, Anna Jackson never remarried. She called herself the “widow of the Confederacy.” “Stonewall” Jackson is one my heroes and he will continue to be for all time.

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm  Comments (7)