Friday, May 10, 2013

Stonewall Jackson Dies

After being shot in front of his lines on May 2nd, Jackson was taken to a field hospital. There his staff doctor, Hunter McGuire, amputated his left arm. The arm had been hit twice, and with the medical technology of the day amputation was the best option. Lee was distressed to hear of his wound, writing, “Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy." “General Lee is very kind,” Jackson said, “but he should give the praise to God.”

He was taken out of harm's way on the battlefield and moved 28 miles to the south, to Fairview Plantation. His wife, Mary Anna was called along with his young daughter Julia. They had left him just nine days before, and now returned under very different circumstances. At first it seemed that Jackson would recover, but on May 7th he took a turn for the worse. Doctors speculated that he had caught pneumonia while weakened from the wounds. 150 years ago today, Jackson's wife told him that he would not recover. He replied, "It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven. ... It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

The building where Jackson died
As he grew closer to death, his mind wandered off to the field of battle, and like many old soldiers he believed himself again in command and shouted out orders to his generals. Dr McGuire wrote this of his last moments:
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 cried quietly and with an expression as if of relief, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees"; and then, without pain or the least struggle, his spirit passed from earth to the God who gave it.
At 3:15 pm, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson passed from the earth. With his death, people all over the South went into mourning. Some believe that it was this was the turning point of the war, and that without Stonewall the South no longer had a good chance of victory. The Stonewall Brigade, Jackson's old command, requested permission to escort the general's body to Richmond. But Lee was forced to refuse, as the army was in danger of being again attacked. In Richmond, 20,000 people viewed his body.

Lee visits Jackson's grave after the war


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