Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stonewall Jackson - His Death Remembered



Stonewall Jackson: His death remembered
By: Invictus Veritas

Today we mark this day in history. On this day, May the 10th in the year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-Three, General "Stonewall" Jackson, died of pneumonia. Thomas Jackson earned his moniker "Stonewall" at the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861 by Confederate General Bernard Bee. Inspired by Jackson's resolve in the face of the enemy, Bee called out to his men to inspire them: “Look, men! There is Jackson standing like a stone wall!"

General Jackson lost his arm on May the 2nd, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, He had been personally, with a few of his aides, reconnoitering the enemy lines. The battle that day had been a terrible one and Jackson had led an attack on the Yankees', right flank, successfully obliterating the XI Corps. At approximately 9 pm, he made his way back from his mission scouting the enemies position for the next day's battle. While making his way back to camp through a small wooded area, a shot rang out and then a volley by the 18th North Carolina Regiment, supposing the General and his men were Yankee cavalry. Jackson's horse bolted for the trees as a cry of "Cease firing!" " You are firing on your own men!" was screamed by Lt. Joseph G. Morrison, Jackson's brother in law and a member of his party. In the smoke and the chaos, Major John D. Barry of the 18th yelled "Who gave that order!?" "It's a lie! Pour it into them boys!" and another volley was fired. Jackson was hit three times, in the shoulder, the left arm and right hand. Jackson's arm was broken and would be later amputated by his doctor, Doctor Hunter McGuire.
At Chancellor's house, from which the battle derives its name, Jackson's men were joined by Jackson's friend and doctor, Dr. Hunter McGuire. "I am badly injured, doctor; I fear that I am dying" Jackson told him. Jackson was moved to a field hospital 4 miles down the road. It was here Dr. McGuire administered morphine and whiskey and at approximately 2 am, with amputation probable, Jackson gave his consent and told his doctor,"Yes, certainly, Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best." As the anesthesia took effect Jackson remarked," What an infinite blessing!" repeating the last word, "Blessing..blessing.." as he passed from consciousness, his left arm was amputated and a musket ball was removed from his right. After seeming to be making a recovery and eating and drinking, and discussing theology and military tactics, General Jackson acquired a pain in his side and told Dr. McGuire that he had injured it falling out of his litter the night before. He was examined and his doctor found nothing.
Upon hearing of Jackson's injury's, Lee wrote to Jackson stating: "Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead." Soon after, Lee sent a message through Chaplain Lacy, saying: "Give General Jackson my affectionate regards, and say to him: he has lost his left arm but I my right." On May the 3rd , General Lee, fearing that the hospital would become overrun, ordered that Jackson be moved to Guinea Station, some 27 miles south east of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad.
On May the 4th, he was moved by ambulance to Guinea Station. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson lay in bed at Guinea Station at the plantation office of "Fairfield" which was the home of the plantation's owner Mr. Thomas Chandler. Jackson, seeming to be recovering, went to sleep and slept well through the night. The next day,on May the 5th, Jackson's chaplain, the Reverend Beverly Tucker Lacy arrived and had bedside prayer service and sang hymns, much to the delight of Jackson. Later that day Lacy would take Jackson's arm, to his brother Ellwood's nearby home and bury it in the family cemetery.
On May the 6th, Rev. Lacy returned for another prayer service. That evening, Dr. McGuire, thinking Jackson's recovery was well underway, allowed himself to rest on the couch in the sickroom. At approximately 1 am, on the morning of May the 7th, Jackson awoke with nausea and called to his servant Jim Lewis to wet a towel with cold water and place it on the painful area of his aching . Lewis wanted to wake the doctor but Jackson refused, knowing how much sleep his friend Dr. McGuire had lost the past few nights. The hydrotherapy continued until dawn, having no effect on Jackson's continually growing pain. When Dr. McGuire awoke, he diagnosed General Jackson with pneumonia, which had resulted from Jackson having fallen out of his litter the night of his injury. Jackson's wife Anna and their infant daughter arrived as Jackson sank in and out of delirium, one minute commanding his troops in his delirium and then playing with his daughter, whom he called," Little Comforter", all the while assuring everyone that he would recover. His recovery would never come, and by Sunday, May the 10th, Dr. McGuire, certain that his friend would not last the day, broke the news to Jackson's dear wife Anna. Jackson called his friend the doctor to his bedside and said,"Doctor", "Anna informs me that you have told her that I am to die today; is it so?" Having confirmed the General's statement, Jackson remarked," Very good, very good." "It is alright."
On May 10, 1863, Jackson died of complications from pneumonia . On his deathbed, though he became weaker, he remained spiritually strong, saying towards the end: "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday." Dr. McGuire wrote an account of Jackson's final hours and last words: A few moments before he died he cried out in his delirium, "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks"—then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he said quietly, and with an expression, as if of relief, 'Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.' He was 39 years old.
The Rev. J. William Jones, D.D., writing of this statement of General Lee's, uses these words: " General Lee made that remark to Professor James J. White and myself in his office in Lexington one day when we chanced to go in as he was reading a letter making some inquiries of him about Gettysburg. He said, with an emphasis that I cannot forget, and bringing his hand down on the table with a force that made things rattle: 'If I had had Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, I would have won that fight' and a complete victory there would have given us Washington and Baltimore, if not Philadelphia, and would have established the independence of the Confederacy.'"

2 comments:

T.P. Young said...

Oddly, on his own deathbed Gen. Lee also called for A.P. Hill to come up!

C.W. Roden said...

A very moving posts.
Here in South Carolina we remember the day that General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson left this world for the one prepared by our Lord by designating May 10th as Confederate Memorial Day.
Jackson was also the commanding officer of my Great-great-grandfather who served in Laws Brigade.
On CMD (May 10th) I fly the Stainless Banner "Jackson's Flag" in memory of him and of the 360,000 Confederate soldiers who fell in defense of Southern Independence.
Deo Vindice.