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Stonewall Jackson Death Site

Stonewall Jackson Death Site

After being wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Stonewall Jackson was taken to the Chandler Plantation in Virginia and placed in an outbuilding.

His arm was amputated and he developed pneumonia. After his wife and baby arrived, he passed away on a Sunday afternoon in one of the small plantation buildings.

He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

Stonewall Jackson Death Site history

Guinea Station, Virginia where the Confederacy lost one of its most prominent generals in May of 1863. Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was brought here after he was wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville.

Jackson’s shattered arm was amputated in a battlefield hospital and Jackson was evacuated to Guinea Station, next to the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. The railroad to Richmond had been torn up by raiding Federal cavalry, but Guinea Station was considered a safe place for Jackson to recover until the tracks could be reopened. Jackson rode 12 hours in an ambulance over the 27 miles of rough road to the railhead.

A patient with a contagious disease was already in the main house, so Jackson was moved into the plantation office building. It had room for Jackson and his doctors, staff and servant to be undisturbed. Jackson would linger there for six days until he died of pneumonia on May 10, 1863.

In 1909, William White, president of the RF&P, purchased the office building and surrounding five acres. A former Virginia Military Institute cadet who fought at New Market, Va., in May 1864, White wanted to preserve the location where Jackson died because of the general’s service on the VMI faculty.

By 1926, a ladies memorial organization began an extensive rehabilitation project at the site and in 1937 the site was taken over by the National Park Service. In the late 1970s, it changed the name of the site from “Jackson Shrine” to “Stonewall Jackson Shrine” to prevent confusion with other prominent Jacksons.

In late summer 2019, the NPS roadside signs along Interstate 95 were changed to “Stonewall Jackson Death Site,” as the name ‘Jackson Shrine’ was not helpful to visitors.

Stonewall Jackson Death Site today

At the site, you can see four wayside markers, a monument, and the house where Jackson died.

The building where Stonewall Jackson died is the only civil war structure remaining at the site. The room where he died still contains the original bed frame, blanket and clock.

The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad bought the property in 1909. They restored the farm office, calling it the “Jackson Shrine.” The railroad donated the site to the National Park Service in 1937, and today it is part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. The grounds of the site are open from dawn to dusk, but entry to the house is not always available.

Getting to Stonewall Jackson Death Site

To reach Guinea Station from I-95 take exit 118 onto Route 606 east. Continue about 4.5 miles. You will see the National Park sign for the “Stonewall Jackson Shrine” on the left just past the railroad tracks.


Stonewall Jackson Monument

The Stonewall Jackson Monument in Richmond, Virginia, was erected in honour of Thomas Jonathon ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, a Confederate general. The monument was located at the centre of the crossing of Monument Avenue and North Arthur Ashe Boulevard, in Richmond, Virginia. [1] The bronze equestrian statue was unveiled in 1919 along this avenue which memorialises other well-known confederate men, including Robert E. Lee, J. E. B. Stewart, Jefferson Davis, Matthew Maury and more recently Arthur Ashe. [2] Thomas Jackson is best known as one of Robert E. Lee's most trusted commanders throughout the early period of the American Civil War between Southern Confederate states and Northern Union states. [3] He rose to prominence after his vital role in the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, continuing to command troops until his untimely death on May 10, 1863, after falling fatally ill following the amputation of his wounded arm. [4]

Several memorials were commissioned in his “honour” including the statue in Richmond, with perhaps the most well-known the Confederate Memorial Carving at Stone Mountain, commemorating Thomas Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. In Southern states, generals were often revered with statues erected for notable Confederate men at times satisfying a need of the confederate states to extract virtues from past heroes and self-identify with them for the future, while almost justifying their questionable motives. [5] Many of these statues, including the Jackson monument in Richmond, have recently come into controversy in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the renewed attention to Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement that seeks to more accurately represent history and the racial inequalities black people continue to endure. [6] Jackson's statue along with several others commemorating generals were either torn down by protesters supporting BLM or were removed on the mayor's orders during June and July 2020. [6]


What Killed the Infamous Stonewall Jackson?

He was a legendary figure to the country and the South, but precisely how he died is contested.

Key point: The famous General would fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was apparently killed by friendly fire, but it took eight days for him to die.

Following his greatest victory, at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was scouting ahead of the lines with members of his staff when tragedy struck. In the pitch blackness of the early-spring evening, Jackson and his men were mistaken for Union cavalry and fired upon by their own side. Jackson sustained a severe wound to his upper left arm, necessitating amputation. Upon hearing the news, victorious General Robert E. Lee remarked, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” Lee’s words proved prophetic. Eight days after the amputation, Jackson was dead.

It was a loss the Confederacy could ill afford. Before Chancellorsville, Jackson had enjoyed the fortuitous combination of personal skill as a commander, the ineptitude of his opponents, and the good luck that often follows such a combination. He had begun the Civil War as an unknown professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, after having distinguished himself during the Mexican War 15 years earlier. Fresh out of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he had graduated a hard-won 17th in a class of 59, Jackson had earned two brevets for gallantry as an artillery officer during the Mexican War. By the end of the war, he had become a brevet major at the age of 24. He resigned his commission in 1852 to take the position of professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at VMI.

Jackson Volunteers for War

Jackson was commissioned a colonel of volunteers in April 1861 and promoted to brigadier general two months later. He won fame at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, where his staunch defense of Henry Hill earned him the memorable nickname “Stonewall.” He was promoted to major general in October and appointed commander of all Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley the following month.

In the subsequent Shenandoah Valley campaign, Jackson fought a masterful series of battles against a greatly superior Union force. In doing so, his men prevented the reinforcement of Maj. Gen. George McClellan during McClellan’s drive on Richmond, probably saving the Confederate capital. After being repulsed at Kernstown, Jackson outmaneuvered and defeated enemy forces at Front Royal, Cross Keys, and Port Republic between May 23 and June 9, 1862. His campaign, long regarded by military historians as a tactical masterpiece, proved him to be a fearless and aggressive commander, a brilliant tactician, and a master of rapid maneuver. He summarized his approach to generalship as “always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy.” This strategy also applied to his own subordinates, who were rarely informed of Jackson’s plans beforehand. Jackson consulted only with Robert E. Lee.

Jackson rejoined Lee in driving McClellan from the peninsula during the Seven Days’ Battles between June 26 and July 2. Jackson next destroyed Maj. Gen. John Pope’s supply depot at Manassas Junction on August 27 and repulsed Pope’s counterattack at Groveton the next day. He contributed substantially to Lee’s crushing victory over Pope at Second Manassas on August 29-30. During the invasion of Maryland, Jackson won added distinction at the Battle of Antietam. Despite the Confederate defeat, he was promoted to lieutenant general the following month. At the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Jackson commanded the right flank in another devastating defeat of Union forces, this time led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside.

A Grievous Wound

Jackson’s brilliant flanking move at Chancellorsville helped Lee reverse the tide of seeming Union victory and shatter the forces of the new enemy commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. It would be Jackson’s last hurrah. After sustaining a gunshot wound to his upper left arm and a minor wound to his right hand, Jackson left the battlefield supported by two aides. He was then placed on a litter. One of the litter-bearers was shot, causing the general to be thrown painfully to the ground. Jackson was lifted back onto the litter and carried a few hundred yards to the rear, where the 27-year-old medical director of the II Corps, Dr. Hunter McGuire, examined his wounds. “I hope you are not badly hurt, General,” he said. “I am badly injured,” Jackson responded forthrightly. “I fear I am dying. I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding.”

McGuire observed that Jackson’s clothes were saturated with blood and saw that the wound to the left arm indeed was still bleeding. He applied compression to an artery and called for a light to examine the wound more closely. He found that the bandage had slipped and adjusted it to stop the hemorrhage. McGuire also found that Jackson’s hands were cold, his skin was clammy, and his face and lips were pale—all classic signs of hemorrhagic shock. Jackson, however, admitted no discomfort. He was given morphine and whiskey nonetheless—despite being a lifelong teetotaler—and was removed to a nearby field hospital.

Immediate Surgery

At the hospital, McGuire determined that immediate surgery was necessary. When he informed Jackson, the general replied, “Yes, certainly, Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best.” Chloroform was administered and Jackson murmured, “What an infinite blessing,” as he slipped into unconsciousness. McGuire first extracted a round ball that had lodged under the skin at the back of Jackson’s right hand. It had entered the palm and fractured two bones. Next, McGuire wrote, “The left arm was then amputated, about two inches below the shoulder, very rapidly, and with slight loss of blood, the ordinary circular operation having been made.”

Amputations accounted for approximately 75 percent of all operations during the Civil War. Antiseptic techniques were not yet in practice, and contaminated instruments and non-sterile conditions resulted in many wound infections. Nevertheless, prompt amputations undoubtedly saved many lives by converting traumatic wounds into surgical procedures to improve patient survivability. During the war, surgeons found that amputations performed within 48 hours of an injury were twice as likely to be successful as those performed later. Union records reveal a total of 5,540 upper-arm amputations, from which 1,273 amputees died from complications—a fatality rate of 23 percent.

Jackson tolerated the surgery well despite his earlier significant blood loss. At 3:30 the following morning, Major Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton arrived at the hospital to obtain orders for Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Jackson’s replacement as corps commander. Jackson attempted unsuccessfully to respond. “He tried to think,” reported Pendleton. “He contracted his brow, set his mouth, and for some moments appeared to exert every effort to concentrate his thoughts. For a moment we thought he had succeeded, for his nostril dilated, his eye flashed its own fire, and his thin lip quivered again, but it was just for a moment. Presently he relaxed again, and very feebly, and oh so sadly, he answered, ‘I don’t know. I can’t tell. Say to General Stuart that he must do what he thinks best.”

An Uneven Recovery

Jackson then slept for several hours and appeared to be free of pain when he awoke. At 10 am, however, he experienced a severe and sudden episode of pain in his right side and called for McGuire. Jackson assumed that he had injured his side when he struck a stone or stump during his fall from the litter the night before. McGuire made a careful examination and concluded, “No evidence of injury could be discovered by examination the skin was not broken or bruised, and the lung performed, as far as I could tell, its proper function.” The pain soon abated.

By 8 pm, the pain had disappeared and Jackson seemed to be doing well. The following day, fearing Jackson’s capture by nearby Federals, Lee ordered McGuire to remove his patient to Guiney Station, 27 miles away. Early the next morning the ambulance set out, and Jackson seemed to tolerate the transfer well. Later in the day he became nauseated and asked that a wet towel be placed on his abdomen. Upon arrival, he felt well enough to take bread and tea.

The house where Jackson was to convalesce already contained several other wounded soldiers, including several with cases of highly contagious erysipelas, a skin infection caused by the bacteria streptococcus. McGuire would not allow Jackson to be exposed to the infection and found him a small building on the grounds that had been used as an office. The general slept well that night and awoke to eat a hearty breakfast.

McGuire dressed Jackson’s wounds and found them to be healing well without signs of infection. Jackson seemed satisfied with his progress and inquired how long it would be before he could return to the field. At 1 am, however, he suffered another bout of nausea and asked a servant to reapply a wet towel to his abdomen.

Jackson did not want to disturb the exhausted McGuire, who awoke to find his patient complaining again of pain in his right side. After examination, McGuire reluctantly concluded that Jackson had “pleuro-pneumonia of the right chest,” presumably secondary to the fall from the litter. The doctor speculated, “Contusion of the lung, with extravasion of blood in the chest, was probably produced by the fall referred to, and the loss of blood prevented any ill effects until reaction had been well established, and then inflammation ensued.”


An Eyewitness Account of Stonewall Jackson's Wounding

On the second day of the battle of Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia experienced its greatest tactical success and, at the same time, suffered its most grievous casualty. Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson led his Confederate 2nd Corps on a devastating attack against the vulnerable right flank of the Union Army of the Potomac. The southern assault overwhelmed the unsuspecting Union XI Corps and drove it nearly three miles before the Federals managed to form a defensive position in the densely wooded region south of the Rapidan River known as the "Wilderness." A little after 9 p.m. Gen. Jackson, anxious to continue the attack, rode forward ahead of the still-forming main Confederate line with members of his staff to assess the situation. In the darkness southern infantrymen mistook them for Union cavalry and fired a volley into the mounted men. Three bullets struck Jackson while others in his party were killed or wounded.

Among those riding with the general was Capt. Richard Eggleston Wilbourn, Jackson's signal officer. In the chaos that followed, Wilbourn and several others tended to the general and helped get him to an ambulance that carried him to a field hospital where Jackson's left arm was amputated. The next day he was taken to a safe place south of Fredericksburg to recover. But a week later, on May 10, Jackson died from pneumonia. Before the general died, Capt. Wilbourn wrote an eight-page letter to Col. Charles J. Faulkner, assistant adjutant general on Jackson's staff, describing in detail the events surrounding the general's wounding. That letter is preserved in the society's manuscripts collection. A complete transcription of Wilbourn's letter appears below.

Transcription:

H[ea]d Q[ua]r[ter]s 2nd Army Corps
[?] May 1863

Sir,
At your request I will endeavor to give you a correct account of the manner in which Gen. [Thomas J.] Jackson was wounded. Gen. J. attacked the enemy in the rear near the Wilderness Church on the evening of the 2nd of May and drove the enemy before him till about 9 o'clock p.m. when the firing ceased. The road on which we were advancing ran nearly due east & west & our line extended across this road & at right angles to it, our front being towards Chancellorsville or facing east. The gallant [Brig. Gen. Robert E.] Rodes with his veterans drove the enemy at the rate of nearly two miles per hour, and cheer after cheer rent the air as our victorious columns drove the enemy from his chosen position. I have never seen Gen. J. seem so well pleased with his success as that evening—he was in unusually fine sprits and every time he heard the cheering of our men which is ever the signal of victory—he raised his right hand a few seconds as if in acknowledgement of the blessing and to return thanks to God for the victory. About 9 o'clock the firing ceased and all seemed quiet and Gen. J. ordered Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill to the front to relieve Gen. Rodes whose command had been engaged all the evening and who was consequently ordered back to the rear to rest his troops. Gen. J. now rode to the front and meeting Gen. R. said to him "Gen. I congratulate you and your command for your gallant conduct and I shall take pleasure in giving you a good name in my report," and rode on to the front passing Gen. Hill, who was in front getting his command in position & fortifying his line—Gen. J. ordered Capt. [James K.] Boswell, his Chief Engineer to report to Gen. Hill for orders and sent Capt. [James P.] Smith, his aide-de-camp off with

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orders. Maj. [Alexander S.] Pendleton, A. A. Gen. had previously been sent off with orders. I had just returned from carrying an order and had just reported that his order had been delivered, when he replied as is his custom "very good." So there was no one left with Gen. J at this time, but myself and Messrs. Wm. E. Cunliffe & W. T. Wynn of the Signal Corps, and Capt. [William F.] Randolph in charge of the few couriers present. Gen. J with this escort was now at about fifty or sixty yards more or less distance in advance of Gen. Hill who was in advance of his troops. Gen. [James H.] Lane's Brigade extended across the road just in the rear of Gen. Hill, and commended firing at us from the right for some cause I suppose taking us for the enemy and the firing extended unexpectedly along his whole line. When the firing commenced all our horses had been frightened and started off—some moving into the enemy's lines. At the first fire some of the horses were shot from under their riders and several persons killed or wounded. Mr. Cunliffe of the Signal Corps fell in a few feet of Gen. J., mortally wounded. Gen. J.'s horse dashed off in the opposite direction, that is to the left, at the first firing, as did all of the escort who escaped this fire & who could control their horses. I was at Gen. J.'s left side & kept there. When we had gotten about fifteen or twenty paces to the left of the road, we came up in a few yards of the troops of this same Brigade on the left of the road and received their fire, as the fire had by that time extended to the extreme left of the Brigade and it was by this last fire that Gen. J. was struck in three places, viz, in the left arm half way between the elbow & shoulder, in the left wrist, and in the palm of the right hand. The troops who fired at us did not appear to be more than thirty yards off, as I could see them though it was after 9 o'clock P.M. He held his reins in his left hand which immediately dropped by his side and his horse perfectly frantic dashed back into the road, passing under the limb of a tree which took off his cap, and ran down the road towards the enemy. I followed, losing my cap at the same bush—but before I could catch his horse & when about fifty yards from where he was wounded, he succeeded in getting

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his reins in his right hand—also disabled—and turned his head towards our lines and he then ran up the road. We were now so far in advance of our troops as to be out of their range. Just as his horse got within twenty paces of where we were first fired at—Mr. Wynn & myself succeeded in catching his horse and stopping him. The firing had now ceased and no one was in sight—save we three—Gen. J. looked up the road towards our troops apparently much surprised at being fired at from that direction, but said nothing. Just then Mr. Wynn saw a man on horseback near by and told him to "ride back & see what troops those are," pointing in the direction of our troops and he rode off at once—I then remarked, "those certainly must be our troops" and looked at Gen. J. to see what he would say, but he said nothing, though seemed to nodded assent to my remark. He continued looking up the road, standing perfectly still and uttered not a word till Mr. Wynn asked him if he was hurt much, when he replied "severely." I saw something must be done at once, and as I did not know whether he could ride back into our lines, I asked, "Gen. are you hurt very badly," he replied, "I fear my arm is broken." I then asked, "where are you struck," said he, "about half way between the elbow and shoulder." I asked, "Gen. are your hurt any where else," he replied, "yes, a slight wound in the right hand." I did not think from his looks that he could ride back into our lines for I saw he was growing very weak from loss of blood, nor did I know but what that same Brigade would fire at us again if we approached their line from that directions as we were then directly between our friends and the enemy, and if any difference nearest the enemy, and I was fearful the enemy might come up and demand our surrender as there was nothing to prevent it. I could not tolerate for one moment the idea of his falling into the enemy's hands. I then asked the question, "Gen. what should I do for

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you" when he said, "I wish you would see if my arm is bleeding much." I immediately dismounted, remarking, "try to work your fingers, if you can move your fingers at all the arm is not broken," when he tried & commented, "yes it is broken, I can't work my fingers." I then caught hold of his wrist and could feel the blood on his sleeve and gauntlet, and saw he was growing weak rapidly. I said, "Gen. I will have to rip your sleeve to get at your wound"—he had on an india rubber overcoat—and he replied "well you had better take me down too," at the same time leaning his body towards me—and I caught hold of him—he then said "take me off on the other side." I was then on the side of the broken arm & Mr. Wynn on the other. I replied and started to straighten on his horse to take him off on the other side, when he said "no, go ahead" and fell into my arms prostrated. Mr. Wynn took the right foot out of his stirrup & came around to my side to assist in extricating the left foot while I held him in my arms and we carried him a little ways out of the road to prevent our troops or any one who might come along the road from seeing him, as I considered it necessary to conceal the fact of his being wounded from our own troops, if possible. We laid him down on his back under a little tree with his head resting on my right leg for a pillow, and proceeded to cut open his sleeve with my knife. I sent Mr. Wynn at once for Dr. [Hunter] McGuire & an ambulance as soon as I ripped up the india rubber, I said to him that I would have to cut off most of his sleeve, when he said "that is right, cut away every thing." I then took off his opera glass & haversack which were in my way—remarking, "that it was most remarkable that any of us had escaped alive" & he said "yes it is providential." I was then under the impression that all the rest of the party accompanying him had been killed or wounded, which was not far from the truth. Gen. J. then said to me "Capt. I wish you would get me a skilful surgeon."

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I said "I have sent for Dr. McGuire and also an ambulance, as I am anxious to get you away as soon as possible, but as Dr. McGuire may be some distance off, I will get the nearest Surgeon to be found, in case you should need immediate attention," and seeing Gen. Hill approaching the spot where we were, I continued "there comes Gen. Hill, I will see if he can't furnish a Surgeon," and as Gen. H rode up, I said "Gen. H have you a surgeon with you, Gen. J. is wounded"—said Gen. H. "I can get you one" and turned to Capt. B[enjamin] W. Leigh who was acting aid de camp to him and told him to go to Gen. [Dorsey] Pender & bring his surgeon. Gen. H. dismounted and came to where Gen. J. was and said "Gen. I hope you are not badly hurt." Gen. J. "my arm is broken." Gen. H. "Do you suffer much." Gen. J. "it is very painful." Gen. Hill pulled off his gloves which were full of blood, and supported his elbow and hand, while I tied a handkerchief around the wound. The ball passed through the arm, which was very much swollen, but did not seem to be bleeding at all then, so I said, "Gen. it seems to have ceased bleeding, I will first tie a handkerchief tight around the arm" to which he said, "very good." I then said, "I will make a sling to support your arm," to which he replied, "if you please." About this time the Surgeon of Pender's Brigade, Dr. [Richard R.] Barr came up and Gen. Hill announced his presence to Gen. J. & Gen. H. offered a tourniquet to fold around the arm but as it was not bleeding at the time and seemed to be doing very well, it was not put on. The Surgeon went off a few minutes for some thing & Gen. J. then asked in a whisper "is that man a skillful surgeon." Gen. H. said, "he stands high in his Brigade, but he does not propose doing any thing—he is only here in case you should require immediate aid of a surgeon or till Dr. McGuire reaches you" Gen. J. "very good."

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At this time Capt. [Richard H. T.] Adams, signal officer offered Gen. Hill whiskey for Gen. J.—which Gen. H. asked him to drink. He hesitated and I also asked him to drink it, adding that it would help him very much. Gen. J. "had you not better put some water with it"—which was the cause of his hesitation. Gen. H. and I both insisted on his drinking it so and taking water after it, which he did. I then said "Gen. let me pour this water over your wound," to which he said "yes, if you please, pour it so as to wet the cloth," which I did & asked "what can I do for your right hand" Gen. J. "don't mind that it is not a matter of minor consequence—I can use my fingers & it is not very painful." About this time Lts. Smith & [Joseph G.] Morrison came up and Lt. Smith unbuckled his sword & took it off. About this time Capt. Adams halted two Yankee skirmishers in a few yards of where Gen. J. lay and demanded their surrender. They remarked, "we were not aware that we were in your lines." Gen. Hill seeing this immediately hurried off to take command, saying to Gen. Jackson that he would conceal the fact of his being wounded. Gen. J. said, " yes, if you please." Lt. Morrison then reported that the enemy were in a hundred yards and advancing & said, "let us take the Gen. away as soon as possible." Some one then proposed that we take him in our arms, which Gen. J. said, "no, if you will help me up, I can walk." He was immediately raised and started off on foot with Capt. Leigh on his right side and some one, I am not sure who was on the left side to support him. When he walked a few paces he was placed on a litter borne by Capt. Leigh, Jno J. Johnson and two others whose names I am not certain of. Jno. J. Johnson of Co. "H" 22 Va. Battalion was wounded while per-

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forming this duty and his arm afterwards amputated at the socket. I could take no part in bearing the litter as I had not sufficient strength in my right arm to assist, in consequence of a wound received in a previous engagement, so I got on my horse and rode between Gen. J. and the troops who were moving down the road, to prevent if possible them seeing him and was leading a horse belonging to one of the litter bearers, which I also endeavored to keep between him & the troops in order to screen him more effectively. These troops seemed very anxious to see who it was that was wounded, they kept trying to see and asking me who it was, and seemed to think it was some Yankee officer as he was being brought from the front of our lines. To all of these questions I simply answered, "it is only a friend of mine." Gen. J. said "Capt. when asked just say it is a Confederate officer." One man was so determined to see who it was that he walked around me in spite of all I could do to prevent it & exclaimed in the most pitiful tone, "Great God that is old Gen. Jackson," when I said to him, "you mistake it is only a Confederate officer—a friend of mine." He looked at me in doubt & wanted to believe but passed on without saying any more. As soon as Gen. J. was place in the litter the enemy opened a terrific fire of musketry, shell, grape & C. which continued for about half an hour—to all of which Gen. J. was exposed. One of the litter bearers had his arm broken but did not let the litter fall—then another man just after this, fell with the litter, in consequence of getting his foot tangled in a vine. It was entirely accidental & he expressed great regret at it. Gen. J. rolled out & fell on his broken arm, causing it to com-

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mence bleeding again and very much bruising his side. He gave several most pitiful groans—but previous to this he made no complaint and gave no evidence of suffering much. After this he asked several times for sprits, which it was very difficult to get. He was much in need of a stimulant at this time as he was losing blood very fast. I went to a Yankee hospital near by and tried to get some sprits for him from their surgeons, but they had none. At this time Dr. McGuire & Maj. Pendleton got up & Dr. McGuire found him in an ambulance very much exhausted from loss of blood & he gave him some sprits—which seemed to revive him somewhat. He was then carried in the ambulance a mile or two to the rear. Just here Maj. P said to me "Capt W., Gen. Hill is slightly wounded in the leg and Gen. Rodes is in command & requests me to send for Gen. Lee & ask him to come here. I wish you would go to Gen. [Robert E.] Lee with this intelligence and send for Gen. [J. E. B.] Stuart. There are a plenty here to take care of Gen. J & you have done all you could do." I asked Capt. Randolph of the couriers to go for Gen. Stuart and he started for Gen. Stuart. I reached Gen. Lee about an hour before day and found him laying on the ground [a]sleep but as soon as I spoke to Maj. [Walter H.] Taylor, he asked who it was & when told, he told me to come & take a seat by him & give him all the news. After telling of the fight & victory, I told him Gen. J. was wounded—describing the wound—then he said, "thank God it is no worse, God be praised that he is yet alive." He then asked me some questions about the fight & said "Capt. any victory is dearly bought that deprives us of the services of Jackson even temporarily." When I returned to Gen J. his arm had been amputated & he was doing well.

Respectfully
R. E. Wilbourn
Capt. & Chief Signal Officer
2nd Army Corps


The Last Moments

Jackson died later that day, at 3:15 p.m. with Dr. McGuire carefully noting his 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.’”


Stonewall Jackson Death Site - History

By J.D. Haines

Following his greatest victory, at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was scouting ahead of the lines with members of his staff when tragedy struck. In the pitch blackness of the early-spring evening, Jackson and his men were mistaken for Union cavalry and fired upon by their own side. Jackson sustained a severe wound to his upper left arm, necessitating amputation. Upon hearing the news, victorious General Robert E. Lee remarked, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” Lee’s words proved prophetic. Eight days after the amputation, Jackson was dead.

It was a loss the Confederacy could ill afford. Before Chancellorsville, Jackson had enjoyed the fortuitous combination of personal skill as a commander, the ineptitude of his opponents, and the good luck that often follows such a combination. He had begun the Civil War as an unknown professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, after having distinguished himself during the Mexican War 15 years earlier. Fresh out of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he had graduated a hard-won 17th in a class of 59, Jackson had earned two brevets for gallantry as an artillery officer during the Mexican War. By the end of the war, he had become a brevet major at the age of 24. He resigned his commission in 1852 to take the position of professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at VMI.

Jackson Volunteers for War

Jackson was commissioned a colonel of volunteers in April 1861 and promoted to brigadier general two months later. He won fame at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, where his staunch defense of Henry Hill earned him the memorable nickname “Stonewall.” He was promoted to major general in October and appointed commander of all Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley the following month.

Jack’s blazing blue eyes gave him another nickname, “Old Blue Light”

In the subsequent Shenandoah Valley campaign, Jackson fought a masterful series of battles against a greatly superior Union force. In doing so, his men prevented the reinforcement of Maj. Gen. George McClellan during McClellan’s drive on Richmond, probably saving the Confederate capital. After being repulsed at Kernstown, Jackson outmaneuvered and defeated enemy forces at Front Royal, Cross Keys, and Port Republic between May 23 and June 9, 1862. His campaign, long regarded by military historians as a tactical masterpiece, proved him to be a fearless and aggressive commander, a brilliant tactician, and a master of rapid maneuver. He summarized his approach to generalship as “always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy.” This strategy also applied to his own subordinates, who were rarely informed of Jackson’s plans beforehand. Jackson consulted only with Robert E. Lee.

Jackson rejoined Lee in driving McClellan from the peninsula during the Seven Days’ Battles between June 26 and July 2. Jackson next destroyed Maj. Gen. John Pope’s supply depot at Manassas Junction on August 27 and repulsed Pope’s counterattack at Groveton the next day. He contributed substantially to Lee’s crushing victory over Pope at Second Manassas on August 29-30. During the invasion of Maryland, Jackson won added distinction at the Battle of Antietam. Despite the Confederate defeat, he was promoted to lieutenant general the following month. At the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Jackson commanded the right flank in another devastating defeat of Union forces, this time led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside.

A Grievous Wound

Brigadier General Thomas Jonathan Jackson at the Battle of First Manassas, July 21, 1861, where he won his famous nickname, “Stonewall.”

Jackson’s brilliant flanking move at Chancellorsville helped Lee reverse the tide of seeming Union victory and shatter the forces of the new enemy commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. It would be Jackson’s last hurrah. After sustaining a gunshot wound to his upper left arm and a minor wound to his right hand, Jackson left the battlefield supported by two aides. He was then placed on a litter. One of the litter-bearers was shot, causing the general to be thrown painfully to the ground. Jackson was lifted back onto the litter and carried a few hundred yards to the rear, where the 27-year-old medical director of the II Corps, Dr. Hunter McGuire, examined his wounds. “I hope you are not badly hurt, General,” he said. “I am badly injured,” Jackson responded forthrightly. “I fear I am dying. I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding.”

McGuire observed that Jackson’s clothes were saturated with blood and saw that the wound to the left arm indeed was still bleeding. He applied compression to an artery and called for a light to examine the wound more closely. He found that the bandage had slipped and adjusted it to stop the hemorrhage. McGuire also found that Jackson’s hands were cold, his skin was clammy, and his face and lips were pale—all classic signs of hemorrhagic shock. Jackson, however, admitted no discomfort. He was given morphine and whiskey nonetheless—despite being a lifelong teetotaler—and was removed to a nearby field hospital.

Immediate Surgery

At the hospital, McGuire determined that immediate surgery was necessary. When he informed Jackson, the general replied, “Yes, certainly, Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best.” Chloroform was administered and Jackson murmured, “What an infinite blessing,” as he slipped into unconsciousness. McGuire first extracted a round ball that had lodged under the skin at the back of Jackson’s right hand. It had entered the palm and fractured two bones. Next, McGuire wrote, “The left arm was then amputated, about two inches below the shoulder, very rapidly, and with slight loss of blood, the ordinary circular operation having been made.”

Amputations accounted for approximately 75 percent of all operations during the Civil War. Antiseptic techniques were not yet in practice, and contaminated instruments and non-sterile conditions resulted in many wound infections. Nevertheless, prompt amputations undoubtedly saved many lives by converting traumatic wounds into surgical procedures to improve patient survivability. During the war, surgeons found that amputations performed within 48 hours of an injury were twice as likely to be successful as those performed later. Union records reveal a total of 5,540 upper-arm amputations, from which 1,273 amputees died from complications—a fatality rate of 23 percent.

Jackson tolerated the surgery well despite his earlier significant blood loss. At 3:30 the following morning, Major Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton arrived at the hospital to obtain orders for Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Jackson’s replacement as corps commander. Jackson attempted unsuccessfully to respond. “He tried to think,” reported Pendleton. “He contracted his brow, set his mouth, and for some moments appeared to exert every effort to concentrate his thoughts. For a moment we thought he had succeeded, for his nostril dilated, his eye flashed its own fire, and his thin lip quivered again, but it was just for a moment. Presently he relaxed again, and very feebly, and oh so sadly, he answered, ‘I don’t know. I can’t tell. Say to General Stuart that he must do what he thinks best.”

An Uneven Recovery

Fanciful engraving of Jackson’s death shows him inside a tent, rather than a small house, near Guiney Station.

Jackson then slept for several hours and appeared to be free of pain when he awoke. At 10 am, however, he experienced a severe and sudden episode of pain in his right side and called for McGuire. Jackson assumed that he had injured his side when he struck a stone or stump during his fall from the litter the night before. McGuire made a careful examination and concluded, “No evidence of injury could be discovered by examination the skin was not broken or bruised, and the lung performed, as far as I could tell, its proper function.” The pain soon abated.

By 8 pm, the pain had disappeared and Jackson seemed to be doing well. The following day, fearing Jackson’s capture by nearby Federals, Lee ordered McGuire to remove his patient to Guiney Station, 27 miles away. Early the next morning the ambulance set out, and Jackson seemed to tolerate the transfer well. Later in the day he became nauseated and asked that a wet towel be placed on his abdomen. Upon arrival, he felt well enough to take bread and tea.

The house where Jackson was to convalesce already contained several other wounded soldiers, including several with cases of highly contagious erysipelas, a skin infection caused by the bacteria streptococcus. McGuire would not allow Jackson to be exposed to the infection and found him a small building on the grounds that had been used as an office. The general slept well that night and awoke to eat a hearty breakfast.

McGuire dressed Jackson’s wounds and found them to be healing well without signs of infection. Jackson seemed satisfied with his progress and inquired how long it would be before he could return to the field. At 1 am, however, he suffered another bout of nausea and asked a servant to reapply a wet towel to his abdomen.

Jackson did not want to disturb the exhausted McGuire, who awoke to find his patient complaining again of pain in his right side. After examination, McGuire reluctantly concluded that Jackson had “pleuro-pneumonia of the right chest,” presumably secondary to the fall from the litter. The doctor speculated, “Contusion of the lung, with extravasion of blood in the chest, was probably produced by the fall referred to, and the loss of blood prevented any ill effects until reaction had been well established, and then inflammation ensued.”

Making a Diagnosis

On Thursday, May 7, Jackson’s wife, Anna, arrived with their five-month-old daughter, Julia. The sight of her husband’s mangled body and his difficulty breathing alarmed Anna, who said Jackson’s condition “wrung my soul with such grief and anguish as it had never before experienced. He looked like a dying man.” Upon seeing Anna, Jackson smiled and said, “I am very glad to see you looking so bright,” before falling back asleep. When he awoke and saw the look of concern on her face, he said, “My darling, you must cheer up and not wear a long face. I love cheerfulness and brightness in a sickroom.” For his sake, Anna tried to display a happy countenance, but her despair continued to grow.

Monument marking the spot where Jackson was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863.

McGuire had requested the assistance of Dr. Samuel B. Morrison, who arrived late that afternoon. Morrison was a medical school classmate of McGuire’s and a relative of Anna’s. He had treated Jackson before the war and was recognized by the general when he arrived. “There is an old familiar face,” said Jackson, although Morrison was actually five years younger. Morrison was unconvinced that Jackson’s labored breathing and pain in the side were due to pneumonia. He favored a diagnosis of prostration, or complete physical collapse.

Some accounts maintain that Jackson had been ill with a respiratory tract infection prior to the Battle of Chancellorsville, pointing to the fact that he was wearing his raincoat on a warm day owing to chills. However, none of the eight physicians who attended him in the last week of his life mentioned this history or described any sign or symptoms suggesting a preexisting infection. McGuire and Morrison conferred and decided to send to Richmond for Dr. David Tucker, a leading authority on pneumonia. In the meantime, McGuire requested that two other surgeons, Robert J. Breckinridge and John Phillip Smith, join the medical team.

Jackson was restless throughout Thursday night, calling out various orders to his men. “A.P. Hill, prepare for action!” he shouted on one occasion. “Pass the infantry to the front!” he commanded, as well as “Tell Major Hawks to send forward provisions for the troops!”

The four physicians carefully examined Jackson the next morning. The wounds were suppurating, but seemed to be healing normally. There was little they could do, however, to relieve Jackson’s persistent shortness of breath and chest pain. He seemed to be growing weaker by the hour. After another restless night, Tucker arrived from Richmond on the morning of May 9 and confirmed McGuire’s original diagnosis of pneumonia. He recommended cupping. Hot glasses were applied to the afflicted area to “draw the blood.”

“I am not Afraid to Die”

Jackson continued to decline, fading in and out of consciousness. When he awoke in the afternoon and saw several surgeons standing around his bed, he said, “I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go. I am not afraid to die.” Following another difficult night, the general awoke on Sunday, May 10, completely exhausted. It was apparent to everyone that he could not last the day. Anna broke down sobbing and told Jackson that there was no hope for his recovery. Jackson called for McGuire and said, “Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her I am to die today. Is it so?” McGuire replied that there was nothing further the doctors could do. Jackson paused, then responded, “Very good, very good. It is all right.”

After brief visits from little Julia and Major Pendleton, Jackson lapsed into a coma. He awoke shortly before 3:15 pm and spoke his final, enigmatic words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

The Diagnosis in Retrospect

Old Confederates (and one Federal) pose at Chancellorsville in 1884. General James Longstreet stands in the rear, second from the right. Fourth from the right is Union General William Rosecrans, Longstreet’s West Point roommate.

While McGuire and the other attending physicians all agreed that pneumonia was the cause of Jackson’s death, modern-day analysis raised the more likely possibility of pulmonary embolism. The source of the so-called pleuro-pneumonia was presumed to be a lung contusion incurred during Jackson’s fall from the litter. However, from the distance of a few feet at most, the ribs would have absorbed most of the force of the fall, protecting the underlying lung. There would also have been external evidence of trauma such as bruising in an injury serious enough to result in a lung contusion. Neither McGuire nor the other physicians found any evidence of such trauma.

Pleuro-pneumonia is a medical term that is rarely used today. Pleurisy occurs when inflammation involves the pleura, or outer surface, of the lung. Pleuritic chest pain often accompanies pneumonia, thus the term pleuro-pneumonia. Sir William Osler’s 1892 edition of his classic textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine, states: “Pneumonia is a self-limited disease, and runs its course uninfluenced in any way by medicine. It can neither be aborted nor cut short by any means at our command.” Osler went on to say that “the first distressing system is usually pain in the side, which may be relieved by local depletion—by cupping or leeching.” Such treatment was used unsuccessfully on Jackson.

According to the thinking of the day, Jackson’s clinical presentation fit with pneumonia. His physicians cannot be faulted for their diagnosis or treatment, although it should be noted that 19th-century physicians were adept at eliciting the subtle physical signs of pneumonia, such as hearing a cracking sound in the lungs with a stethoscope or finding dullness to percussion of the chest. Neither of these classic signs of pneumonia was found by any of Jackson’s doctors.

In terminal pneumonia, the clinical course typically goes from bad to worse. But in Jackson’s illness, there were two distinct, sudden episodes of deterioration. These occurred on May 3 and May 6, and both were described as being associated with the onset of acute chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and perhaps fever. These symptoms are consistent with pulmonary emboli, which are blood clots traveling to the lungs. Among the numerous complications following amputation of an extremity are nonhealing of the stump, infection, and thromboembolism, or the formation of a blood clot within a large vein. According to McGuire, Jackson’s wound appeared to be healing properly and infection did not seem significant.

It is known today that an amputee is at significant risk for venous thromboembolism and pulmonary embolism. Immobilization of the patient following surgery can allow the blood to pool and clot within the veins. More dangerous is the formation of clots in the large veins that are tied off during amputation. The tying off of the veins, or ligation, leads to stagnation of blood in the veins, which leads in turn to a thrombus, or clot, which can then travel to the lungs and kill the patient.

Even with today’s advanced technology, it is estimated that as many as half of all pulmonary emboli go undetected by physicians. The current treatment and prevention of thromboembolism is accomplished by the use of blood-thinning agents such as Heparin and Lovenox. Although Stonewall Jackson’s death was unpreventable, given the state of medicine at the time, it is more likely that he died from thromboembolism as a direct consequence of his wound and amputation, than from the indirect cause of pneumonia.

Comments

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Site of Stonewall Jackson’s Death Gets New Name

A subtle but important change is underway at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FSNMP): the site where Stonewall Jackson died is getting renamed. The building formerly known as the Stonewall Jackson Shrine will henceforth be officially referred to as the Stonewall Jackson Death Site.

The reasons for the change, says FSNMP Chief Historian and Chief of Interpretation John Hennessy, is to help give visitors a clearer a sense of what to expect when they visit.

“[T]he name ‘Jackson Shrine’ is not very helpful to visitors,” he says. “Most people have no idea what to expect. They expect a shrine in a modern sense, and of course, the term ‘shrine,’ which was commonly used for a historic site in the 1920s, is hardly ever used in that context today.”

The name “Jackson Shrine” dates back to a casual reference in a newspaper article written by Virginia Lee Cox for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on November 16, 1926:

Yesterday in the simple, little, frame house near Guinea Station where, on May 10, 1863, General Stonewall Jackson died, a group of interested women transformed the bare, little room in which he “crossed over the river” into some semblance of its original setting, and made there the beginnings of a Jackson Museum which they hope will grow into a fitting tribute to one of the South’s great heroes.

The group which yesterday made that first pilgrimage to the Jackson Shrine was composed of….[i]

At the time, the word “shrine” was a commonly used synonym for museum. For instance, a 1934 pamphlet published by the Virginia Commission on Conservation and Development, Historic Shrines of Virginia, listed thirty-five sites, including “Jackson’s Deathplace.”

Today, the term as originally used is largely unfamiliar to modern travelers.

“‘The Jackson Shrine’ was an informal name,” Hennessy says. “It is not a legally applied name. It’s not in our legislation or anything of that sort.”

Among National Park Service sites, only Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine includes the word in its official designation. The Alamo, too, remains an officially designated shrine.

The Fredericksburg area apparently had a plethora of shrines once upon a time, at least according to the Free Lance-Star. Today, only the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, which sits on Caroline Street, has a sign that says “Shrine open daily.” But reporting on October 13, 1928, on the dedication of Jackson’s death site as a museum, the local newspaper boasted, “This section, already rich in historic shrines, and due in the future to boast even more, had another shrine added to its list yesterday when the house in which ‘Stonewall’ Jackson died was formally dedicated as a place where lovers of history and heroism might journey and worship.”

“But certainly the term ‘shrine’ is not consistent with our organizational commitment to objective and holistic interpretation of history,” Hennessy explains. “I mean, we get people who come in who are bristling from the start because, ‘What is this? Why are our tax dollars running a shrine to Stonewall Jackson?’ And then we also get people coming in from the start not expecting objective, holistic interpretation—expecting a kind of invitation to mourn. That’s not what the site is, either.

“We think the new name, the new label, puts the site on more neutral ground for visitors coming in. Just makes for a better environment for us to do our work,” he says.

Park officials also hope clarifying the name will make the site safer.

“[T]he intensity of the discourse over Confederate iconography—or Confederate icons, in the case of Jackson,” raised security issues, Hennessy admits. “There’s no question that in the present tumult over Confederate symbols and icons in the aftermath of Charleston and, especially, in the aftermath of Charlottesville, there was a good deal of chatter online that we saw about ‘What is this shrine to Jackson? It needs to go.’”

The name change offered a way for the park to defuse some of those concerns. “It’s such a simple thing to remove that aspect of it without altering the site, without altering the experience,” Hennessy says. “The focus is still on Jackson’s death and why it mattered and why it matters.”

“It remains our most personal site,” he adds. “One, it’s the only site that we have that’s focused on an individual. And secondly, it’s the site where our visitors have the most personal experience with our staff. It’s often one on one, or one and a family. And so it’s a site that has tremendous interpretive potential that . . . all our staff who’s worked there over the years has recognized. And none of that, none of that is changing.”

The park changed the site’s name once before, back in 1979. At the time, the site was known as simply “The Jackson Shrine.” Adding “Stonewall” to the name clarified the difference between the Civil War General and former president Andrew Jackson, another Southern military commander with a catchy nickname—“Old Hickory”—who first earned renown in the War of 1812. The seventies also saw the Jackson Five peak in popularity and Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson make five trips to the World Series, creating additional layers of cultural confusion.

New highway signs—the most visible indication of the name change—went up in August at a cost of $50,000. “But other than the signs, everything else will be replaced in due course on a normal schedule,” Hennessy says. “So the cost of doing it is really confined to the signage.”

Hennessy says the park staff has been using the new name internally for about a year already, and the park’s website already reflects the change. Otherwise, he predicts the name change will take about three years for the park to fully implement.

“It will have to filter its way through other media,” he explains. “Our brochures, for example, were reprinted last summer just before we … made the decision, so that’s going to take three years. We ordered a three-year supply of brochures, so that’s not changing on the brochures.”

For the park’s outside partners, the name change may take even longer. “Our tourism partners, localities—it’s probably going to take five to seven years to filter through entirely,” Hennessy says. “And, you know, in twenty years, there will probably still be people out there who’ll call it ‘Stonewall Jackson Shrine.’ That’s just the way these things work.”

In the end, he says, visitors can bring whatever perspective they want to the site. “To some eyes it will remain a ‘shrine,’ and that’s fine. Our intent is not to impose on any visitor how they ought to view the site,” he says.

While the name change might be a “significant issue” for some, Hennessy thinks the benefits far outweigh those issues. “[B]ecause the nature of the site’s not changing, and we think it really serves our visitors and serves the site, too, and its security, we think it’s the right thing to do,” he says. “So we’re forging ahead.”

[i] Virginia Lee Cox, “Jackson Museum is Begun Where Great Stonewall Died,” Richmond Times Dispatch, November 16, 1926. The author is indebted to FSNMP historian Eric Mink for providing this newspaper article. Eric was also kind enough to furnish the pamphlet Historic Shrines of Virginia and “First Civil War Shrine” from the October 13, 1928, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.


Contents

Hill, known to his family as Powell (and to his soldiers as Little Powell), was born in Culpeper, Virginia, the seventh and final child of Thomas and Fannie Russell Baptist Hill. Powell was named for his uncle, Ambrose Powell Hill (1785–1858), who served in both houses of the Virginia legislature, and Capt. Ambrose Powell, an Indian fighter, explorer, sheriff, legislator, and close friend of President James Madison. [1]

Hill was nominated to enter the United States Military Academy in 1842, in a class that started with 85 cadets. He made friends easily, including such prominent future generals as Darius N. Couch, George Pickett, Jesse L. Reno, George Stoneman, Truman Seymour, Cadmus M. Wilcox, and George B. McClellan. His future commander, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, was in the same class but the two did not get along. Hill had a higher social status in Virginia and valued having a good time in his off-hours, whereas Jackson scorned levity and practiced his religion more fervently than Hill could tolerate. In 1844, Hill returned from a furlough with a case of gonorrhea, medical complications from which caused him to miss so many classes that he was required to repeat his third year. Reassigned to the class of 1847, he made new friendships in particular with Henry Heth and Ambrose Burnside. Hill continued to suffer from the effects of VD for the rest of his life, being plagued with recurrent prostatitis, which was not treatable before the advent of antibiotics. He may have also suffered urinary incontinence due to inflammation of the prostate pressing on his urethra, which could also lead to uremic poisoning and kidney damage. [2] He graduated in 1847, ranking 15th of 38. He was appointed to the 1st U.S. Artillery as a brevet second lieutenant. [3] He served in a cavalry company during the final months of the Mexican–American War, but fought in no major battles. After some garrison assignments along the Atlantic seaboard, he served in the Seminole Wars, again arriving near the end of the war and fighting various minor skirmishes. He was promoted to first lieutenant in September 1851. [4]

Hill (or his namesake uncle who died in 1858) farmed in Culpeper County, Virginia using enslaved labor. In the 1840 census Ambrose P. Hill owned 32 slaves, [5] and 30 slaves in the 1850 census. [6] (Note: In 1840, A.P. Hill, the subject of this article, was only 15 years old and still living with his father's family. Hill served on an army post in Florida in 1850, and was not a resident of Virginia in that census year. [7] The author of the above section on the census has confused him with his uncle of the same name). Robertson's biography of Hill quotes his wife Kitty as saying her husband, "never owned slaves and never approved of the institution of slavery." [8] In the 1850 census, Thomas Hill (Hill's father) owned 20 slaves in Culpeper County. [9] Ten years later, Thomas Hill Jr. owned at least 38 slaves in Culpeper County. [10] [11] From 1855 to 1860, A.P. Hill worked on the United States' coastal survey. [12] He was once engaged to Ellen B. Marcy, the future wife of Hill's West Point roommate George B. McClellan, before her parents pressured her to break off the engagement. Although Hill denied he felt ill will about the affair afterward, during the war a rumor spread that Hill always fought harder if he knew McClellan was present with the opposing army, because of Ellen's rejection. [13] On July 18, 1859, Hill married Kitty ("Dolly") Morgan McClung, a young widow, thus becoming the brother-in-law of future Confederate cavalry generals John Hunt Morgan (Hill's best man at the wedding) and Basil W. Duke. [14]

American Civil War Edit

Early months Edit

On March 1, 1861, after some Southern states had seceded (and as the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861 met, Hill resigned his U.S. Army commission. After Virginia seceded, he accepted a commission as colonel of the 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment, which included units from his native Culpeper County, and nearby Orange, Louisa and Frederick Counties, as well as the Lanier Guards of Maryland and the Frontier Rifles of Hampshire County in what would soon become West Virginia. [15] [16] The 13th Virginia was one of the regiments in Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army that were transported by railroad as reinforcements to the First Battle of Bull Run, but Hill and his men were sent to guard the Confederate right flank near Manassas and saw no action during the battle. Hill was promoted to brigadier general on February 26, 1862, and command of a brigade in the (Confederate) Army of the Potomac. [17]

Light Division Edit

In the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Hill performed well as a brigade commander at the Battle of Williamsburg, where his brigade blunted a Union attack, and was promoted to major general and division command on May 26. [18] Hill's new division was composed mainly of brigades pulled from the Carolinas and Georgia.

His division did not participate in the Battle of Seven Pines (May 31 – June 1), the battle in which Joseph E. Johnston was wounded and replaced in command of the Army of Northern Virginia by Robert E. Lee. June 1 was the first day that Hill began using a nickname for his division: the Light Division. This contradictory name for the largest division in all of the Confederate armies may have been selected because Hill wished his men to have a reputation for speed and agility. One of Hill's soldiers wrote after the war, "The name was applicable, for we often marched without coats, blankets, knapsacks, or any other burdens except our arms and haversacks, which were never heavy and sometimes empty." [19]

Hill's rookie division was in the thick of the fighting during the Seven Days Battles, being heavily engaged at Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, and Glendale. Following the campaign, Hill became involved in a dispute with James Longstreet over a series of newspaper articles that appeared in the Richmond Examiner relations between them deteriorated to the point that Hill was placed under arrest and Hill challenged Longstreet to a duel. [20] Following the Seven Days Battles, Lee reorganized the army into two corps and assigned Hill's division to Stonewall Jackson. Their relationship was less than amicable and the two quarreled many times. Hill frequently found himself under arrest by Jackson. [21]

At the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, Hill launched a counterattack that stabilized the Confederate left flank, preventing it from being routed. Three weeks later at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), Hill was placed on the Confederate left along the unfinished railroad cut and held it against repeated Union attacks. During the campaign, Hill became involved in several minor disputes with Jackson concerning Jackson's marching orders to Hill. [22]

Hill's performance at the Battle of Antietam was particularly noteworthy. While Lee's army was enduring strong attacks by the Army of the Potomac outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, Hill's Light Division had been left behind to process Union prisoners at Harpers Ferry. Responding to an urgent call for assistance from Lee, Hill marched his men at a grueling pace and reached the battlefield just in time to counterattack a strong forward movement by the corps of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, which threatened to destroy Lee's right flank. Hill's arrival neutralized the threat, bringing an end to the battle with Lee's army battered but undefeated. [23] Hours after the battle, Hill told an inquisitive major that Burnside owed him $8,000. [24] During the retreat back to Virginia, he had his division push back a few regiments from the Union V Corps. [25]

At the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Hill was positioned near the Confederate right along a ridge because of some swampy ground along his front, there was a 600-yard gap in Hill's front line, and the nearest brigade behind it was nearly a quarter mile away the dense vegetation prevented the brigade commander from seeing any Union troops advancing on his position. During the battle, Maj. Gen. George Meade's division routed two of Hill's brigades and part of a third. Hill required the assistance from Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early's division to repulse the Union attack. Hill's division suffered over 2,000 casualties during the battle, which was nearly two-thirds of the casualties in Jackson's corps two of his brigade commanders were wounded, one (Maxcy Gregg) mortally. [26] After the battle one of his brigade commanders, Brig. Gen. James J. Archer, criticized him about the gap left in the division's front line, saying that Hill had been warned about it before the battle but had done nothing to correct it. Hill was also absent from his division, and there is no record of where he was during the battle this led to a rumor spread through the lines that he had been captured during the initial Union assault. [27]

Hill and Jackson argued several times during the Northern Virginia Campaign and the 1862 Maryland Campaign. During the invasion of Maryland, Jackson had Hill arrested and after the campaign charged him with eight counts of dereliction of duty. [28] During the lull in campaigning following the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hill repeatedly requested that Lee set up a court of inquiry, but the commanding general did not wish to lose the effective teamwork of his two experienced lieutenants and so refused to approve Hill's request. [29] Their feud was put aside whenever a battle was being fought and then resumed afterward, a practice that lasted until the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. [30] There, Jackson was accidentally wounded by the 18th North Carolina Infantry of Hill's division. Hill briefly took command of the Second Corps and was wounded himself in the calves of his legs. While in the infirmary, he requested that the cavalry commander, J. E. B. Stuart, take his place in command. [31]

Third Corps commander Edit

After Jackson's death from pneumonia, Hill was promoted on May 24, 1863, to lieutenant general (becoming the Army of Northern Virginia's fourth highest-ranking general) and placed in command of the newly created Third Corps of Lee's army, which he led in the Gettysburg Campaign of 1863. [12] One of Hill's divisions, led by his West Point classmate Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, was the first to engage Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. Although the first day of the battle was a resounding Confederate success, Hill received much postbellum criticism from proponents of the Lost Cause movement, suggesting that he had unwisely brought on a general engagement against orders before Lee's army was fully concentrated. [32] His division under Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson fought in the unsuccessful second day assaults against Cemetery Ridge, while his favorite division commander, Maj. Gen. William Dorsey Pender, commanding the Light Division, was severely wounded, which prevented that division from cooperating with the assault. On the third day, two thirds of the men in Pickett's Charge were from Hill's corps, but Robert E. Lee chose James Longstreet to be overall commander of the assault. [33] Of all three infantry corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, Hill's suffered the most casualties at Gettysburg, which prompted Lee to order them to lead the retreat back into Virginia. [34]

During the autumn campaign of the same year, Hill launched his Corps "too hastily" in the Battle of Bristoe Station and was bloodily repulsed by Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's II Corps. Lee did not criticize him for this afterward, but ordered him to detail himself to the dead and wounded after hearing his account. Hill's corps also took part in the Battle of Mine Run. Other than a brief visit to Richmond in January 1864, Hill remained with his corps in its winter encampments near Orange Court House. [35]

In the Overland Campaign of 1864, Hill's corps held back multiple Union attacks during the first day of the Battle of the Wilderness, but became severely disorganized as a result. Despite several requests from his division commanders, Hill refused to straighten and strengthen his line during the night, possibly due to Lee's plan to relieve them at daylight. At dawn on the second day of the battle, the Union army launched an attack that briefly drove Hill's corps back, with several units routed, but the First Corps under Longstreet arrived just in time to reinforce him. [36] Hill was medically incapacitated with an unspecified illness at Spotsylvania Court House, so Maj. Gen. Jubal Early temporarily took command of the Third Corps, but Hill was able to hear that his men were doing well and to observe the battle at Lee's side. [37] After recovering and regaining his corps, he was later rebuked by Lee for his piecemeal attacks at the Battle of North Anna. By then, Lee himself was too ill to coordinate his subordinates in springing a planned trap of the Union Army. [38] Hill held the Confederate left flank at Cold Harbor, but two divisions of his corps were used to defend against the main Union attack on the right flank on June 3 when part of the troops to his right gave way, Hill used one brigade to launch a successful counterattack. [39]

During the Siege of Petersburg of 1864–65, Hill and his men participated in several battles during the various Union offensives, particularly Jerusalem Plank Road, the Crater, Globe Tavern, Second Reams Station, and Peebles Farm. During the Battle of the Crater, he fought against his West Point classmate Ambrose Burnside, whom the former repulsed at Antietam and Fredericksburg. Hill was ill several times that winter in March 1865, his health had deteriorated to the point where he had to recuperate in Richmond until April 1, 1865. [40]

Death Edit

Hill had said he had no desire to live to see the collapse of the Confederacy, [41] and on April 2, 1865 (during the Union breakthrough in the Third Battle of Petersburg, just seven days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House), he was shot dead by a Union soldier, Corporal John W. Mauck of the 138th Pennsylvania, as he rode to the front of the Petersburg lines, accompanied by one staff officer. They had called upon the Union soldiers to surrender. [42] Instead, the federals refused the demand and shot Hill through the chest. The rifle bullet traveled through his heart, exited his chest, and sliced off his left thumb. [43] Hill fell to the ground and died within moments.

In the late nineteenth century, interest developed in trying to locate and memorialize the site where Hill was killed, with apparent attempts made to locate the site in 1888, 1890, and 1903. [44] It was not until 1911, however, that the Sons of Confederate Veterans finally undertook a precise study and were able to locate and commemorate where Hill fell.

In April 1912, the SCV unveiled two monuments denoting the death of A.P. Hill in Dinwiddie County. The larger of these two monuments is located at the intersection of the Boydton Plank Road and Duncan Road.

To the memory of A.P. Hill, Lt-Gen. C.S.A.

He was killed about 600 yards northwardly from this marker, being shot by a small band of stragglers from the Federal lines on the morning of April 2, 1865.

Erected by A.P. Hill Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans-Petersburg, Va.

It is thought that this location was chosen because it was easily accessible from the road. A small parking area is located behind the monument on Duncan Road making it easy and safe to visit and access. The marker is located at GPS coordinates: 37° 11.365′ N, 77° 28.52′ W. [45]

The SCV also marked what is thought to be the exact site where Hill fell in April 1912. The small granite marker at the site reads:

Spot where A.P. Hill Was Killed

The GPS coordinates for this marker are: 37° 11.553′ N, 77° 28.847′ W. It is approximately a half mile from the larger stone. The marker is located near Sentry Hill Court and is on land that was preserved by the American Battlefield Trust. [46] It is publicly accessible via a short trail.

The unveiling ceremony for the two markers was attended by Hill's widow and his surviving children. [44]

Across the Boydton Plank Road (US 1) from the "Memory" marker is a third marker to A.P. Hill. This marker was erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1929. It reads:

In the field a short distance north of this road, the Confederate General A.P. Hill was killed, April 2, 1865. Hill, not knowing that Lee's lines had been broken, rode into a party of Union soldiers advancing on Petersburg.

The marker was replaced as recently as 2015. [44] It is Virginia Historical Marker S-49. It is located just south of the turn off for the marker in the Sentry Hill area. There is no designated pull off area for this marker. It is located at GPS coordinates: 37° 11.348′ N, 77° 28.601′ W. [47]

Confederates recovered Hill's corpse shortly afterward. When Lee heard of Hill's death, he tearfully uttered, "He is now at rest, and we who are left are the ones to suffer." [48] Hill's family had hoped to bury Hill in Richmond, but the city's evacuation by the Confederate government during the next days and capture by Union forces led to Hill's burial in Chesterfield County. Per his last will and testament, Hill was interred standing up. [49] [50]

Hill did not escape controversy during the war. He had a frail physique and suffered from frequent illnesses that reduced his effectiveness at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. (Some historians believe these illnesses were related to the venereal disease he contracted as a West Point cadet.) [51]

Some analysts consider Hill an example of the Peter principle. Although he was extremely successful commanding his famed "Light Division," he was less effective as a corps commander. [52] Historian Larry Tagg described Hill as "always emotional . so high strung before battle that he had an increasing tendency to become unwell when the fighting was about to commence." This tendency was to some extent balanced by the implied combative attitude that he displayed. He often donned a red calico hunting shirt when a battle was about to start and the men under his command would pass the word, "Little Powell's got on his battle shirt!" and begin to check their weapons. [53]

Hill was affectionate with the rank-and-file soldiers and one officer called him "the most lovable of all Lee's generals." Although it was said that "his manner [was] so courteous as almost to lack decision," his actions were often impetuous, and did not lack decision, but judgment. [55]

Nevertheless, Hill was one of the war's most highly regarded generals on either side. [56] When Hill was a major general, Robert E. Lee wrote that he was the best at that grade in the Army. He had a reputation for arriving on battlefields (such as Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, and Antietam) just in time to prove decisive. Stonewall Jackson on his deathbed deliriously called for A. P. Hill to "prepare for action" some histories have recorded that Lee also called for Hill in his final moments ("Tell Hill he must come up."), although current medical opinion is that Lee was unable to speak during his last illness. [57]


How Did Stonewall Jackson Really Die?

Stonewall Jackson’s death in May 1863 is the stuff of legend, but its true cause remains a matter of medical dispute.

For the black-skinned, blue-clad soldiers deployed on the extreme left flank of the Union Army outside Nashville, Tennessee, the order to advance announced at dawn on December 15, 1864, was a long time coming. No unit of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), made up entirely of black enlisted men under the command of white officers, had been committed to major combat in the western theater since the bloody setback at Port Hudson, Louisiana, in May 1863. Now, almost 18 months later, two brigades of untested black troops were about to play a role in one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War.

Four miles south of the city, General John Bell Hood’s ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-shod veterans of the Confederate Army of Tennessee waited grimly in their defensive works. This once-proud and formidable force had never been in such dreadful condition. Still reeling from the horrendous physical and psychological trauma it had suffered in the catastrophic defeat at Franklin, Tennessee, two weeks earlier, the army was so thinned, in fact, that it had only managed to extend a line of partially completed works four miles below the city, leaving sizable gaps between both flanks and the Cumberland River.

Victory Seems to Slip Away from the Rebels

If the battle-hardened veterans under Hood could achieve victory—an increasingly remote possibility—their stalled offensive into their namesake state could be resurrected. Accustomed to facing heavy odds, the renowned Confederate infantry, if victorious, could drive their defeated foes from Nashville, reclaim the capital city, and gain access to the vast Federal supplies there. With his troops rested and refitted, Hood could then push north, threatening Kentucky and Ohio, his army’s ranks swelling with new recruits along the way. Union Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman might have to abandon his punishing march to the sea through Georgia and return to the defensive.

Threatened with removal from command of the Federal forces in Nashville for refusing to attack Hood immediately, Maj. Gen. George H. “Pap” Thomas nevertheless continued his meticulous preparations not only to defeat the Rebel host in his front but to utterly destroy it. Thomas needed time to organize and deploy his large and heterogeneous forces, find mounts for a third of his 12,000-man cavalry, and gather the necessary transports to conduct a vigorous pursuit of the enemy in the event they were driven back from the outskirts of the city.

It was now December 1. Maj. Gen. John Schofield, the victor of Franklin, was safely inside Nashville with his five divisions, 62 guns, and almost 800 wagons. Other units were arriving daily to fill out Thomas’s army. Hood had few options he feared wholesale desertion if he retreated to regroup. He could attack Murfreesboro, 30 miles southeast of Nashville, where 9,000 Union troops under Maj. Gen. Lovell Rousseau were posted in strong works, but Thomas could reinforce Rousseau with more troops than Hood had in his whole army. Attacking Nashville, one of the most heavily fortified cities on the American continent, was out of the question. If Hood managed to bypass Nashville and push north, he risked attack from flank and rear.

“The Lines Looked More Like the Skirmish Line of a Regular Army”

When Hood arrived in front of Nashville, he adopted a tactic that Napoleon Bonaparte, the father of modern warfare, once called a form of deferred suicide: the passive defensive. Hood put his men to work putting up breastworks and waited for Thomas to attack him, while he prayed for the arrival of reinforcements. He implored his superiors in Richmond to get General Edmund Kirby Smith to send troops from the Trans-Mississippi Department, but the chances of substantial reinforcements arriving in time to help Hood were remote at best.

As the exhausted Confederate soldiers set about digging trenches and throwing up breastworks south of the city, to one private “the lines looked more like the skirmish line of a regular army, than a regular army itself.” Many of Hood’s veterans had no overcoats or blankets, and their uniforms were in tatters. Those who had shoes—and as many as one in five did not—wrapped their worn boots in rags or gunny sacks. After a fierce storm hit Nashville on December 9, many soldiers began leaving bloody footprints in the snow.

On paper, Hood’s army still looked formidable: three corps, nine divisions, 27 brigades. But after Franklin, the Confederate force in front of Nashville was down to about 23,000 infantry and 1,750 cavalry. Meanwhile, all the Federal units that would take part in the defense of Nashville had arrived safely. Three veteran divisions that made up Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith’s XVI Corps were welcomed when they arrived on November 30 after an arduous trek across Kansas from St. Louis. The garrison and quartermaster troops had now been augmented by militia units, new levees, convalescents, detached units, three corps of infantry from three separate commands, and finally by a provisional detachment under Maj. Gen. James Steedman that included two brigades of U.S. Colored Troops. Upon arrival by rail from Chattanooga, the 1st and 2nd Colored Brigades were assigned positions on Thomas’s extreme left flank along a front that stretched from Fort Negley east to the Lebanon Pike, close to the banks of the Cumberland River.

A “Great Danger in Delay”

Hood’s army had barely arrived when Thomas began receiving an almost daily barrage of telegrams from Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck in Washington and from Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, 500 miles away in City Point, Virginia, urging him to attack and destroy Hood immediately. On December 6, obviously not cognizant of the weakened condition of Hood’s army, Grant wired Thomas: “There is great danger in delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio.” He ordered him to attack at once. Thomas agreed, but the difficulties he faced convinced him that his army wasn’t adequately prepared, and he decided to delay until at least December 9 or 10.

Grant, worried that a Rebel thrust toward the Ohio River would embarrass him for allowing Sherman to march away from Hood’s army, decided to relieve Thomas, but then changed his mind. By that time, both armies were literally frozen in place and unable to move, the result of a fierce storm that had covered the ground with a blanket of ice and snow. The storm halted construction of a line of wood-and-earthen forts, or redoubts, that Hood had ordered built along both sides of the Hillsboro Pike to shore up his weak left flank.

On December 9, Halleck wired Thomas that Grant had “experienced much dissatisfaction at your delay in attacking the enemy.” In reply, Thomas told Halleck, “I feel conscious I have done everything in my power, and that the troops could not have been gotten ready before this. If Gen. Grant should order me to be replaced I will submit without a murmur.” Two days later, as the freezing temperatures continued to keep armies immobilized, Grant wired Thomas that he was still worried about the threat of a Rebel army moving toward the Ohio River. At that moment, Hood’s soldiers were shivering in their trenches and fortifications while bitterly cold winds howled around them and Union artillery shells rained down. The Confederates’ own artillery was silent, conserving ammunition for the battle to come. All along the line, vicious skirmishing and sharpshooting were taking place day and night.

Thomas Prepares His Attack

The weather finally took a turn for the better on December 13, and the morning of the 14th brought clear skies and a warm sun. The suffering of the Confederates in their trenches eased, but when the ice and snow began to melt, Hood’s army found itself mired in a sea of mud. Thomas was ready to launch his attack. He called his commanders together, told them the attack would begin on the morning of December 15, and meticulously explained the role of each corps. He would sally forth with a combined infantry and cavalry force of 54,000 men while leaving 9,000 to man the city’s defenses.

It would be none too soon. Grant was en route to Washington and planned to travel to Nashville by rail to personally assume command. Thomas chose a tactic favored by the other Union commanders. Steedman would move out at first light against the Rebel right and conduct a strong demonstration, tying down as many enemy units as possible in an attempt to mislead Hood about where the major attack would be made. On the far right, Brig. Gen. James Wilson’s entire body of cavalry, together with Smith’s infantry corps, would make a grand left wheel, assaulting and overlapping the enemy left. In the center, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood’s corps would serve as the pivot for the wheel and threaten the enemy salient on Montgomery Hill, a mere quarter mile south of Thomas’s command post on Lawrence Hill. Schofield’s corps would be held in reserve between Smith and Wood, to be used according to developments on the battlefield. Apprised of the war council at the last second, Grant muttered to his staff, “Well, I guess we won’t go to Nashville,” and settled in to await word from the front.

The morning of December 15 broke warm and sunny, but a thick fog obscured the field until late morning. The fog and the uneven nature of the ground partially hid the first movements of Steedman’s units when they sallied forth on the left, two hours late owing to the fog. The Union vanguard consisted of the 1st Colored Brigade under Colonel Thomas Morgan, the 2nd Colored Brigade led by Colonel Charles Thompson, and a motley brigade of white convalescents, conscripts, and bounty jumpers under the command of Colonel Charles Grosvenor.

Hood’s right rested on a deep railroad cut between the Nolensville and Murfreesboro Turnpikes. Raines Hill, astride the former, was an imposing terrain feature held by veterans of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Cheatham’s corps. A concealed lunette just to the east, across the tracks of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, was occupied by 500 survivors of the late Brig. Gen. Hiram Granbury’s Texas Brigade. From Nolensville Pike, Hood’s line ran west across Franklin Pike, past Granny White Pike, to where Redoubt 1, the true salient of Hood’s left, lay just east of Hillsboro Pike. From there the line “refused” at a right angle to Redoubt 2, also on the east side of the pike. The Confederate line stretched diagonally across the pike to Redoubts 3, 4, and 5. A division of Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart’s corps was set behind a stone wall that ran parallel to Hillsboro Pike, constituting the extreme left flank of the Confederate works.

Morgan’s Troops Forced to Fall Back

A little after 8 am, Steedman’s three brigades, 7,600 strong and augmented by two batteries of artillery, advanced toward Cheatham’s works, driving back the Confederate skirmish line. The brigades of Grosvenor and Thompson advanced directly on the main works, while Morgan’s three regiments of 3,200 black troops moved out to the left directly toward the hidden lunette. When Grosvenor’s columns came within range, they were shredded by withering artillery and musket fire and fled in disarray out of range, where they were content to remain for the rest of the day.

Next came Thompson’s brigade, which received the same harsh reception and also stalled. The Confederate veterans waiting inside the lunette held their fire while Morgan’s troops continued forward. When the black troops moved onto the cut and within range, the Texans rose and delivered a terrible volley of musket fire into their ranks. Southern artillery then let loose a torrent of shells, and fire coming from the works west of the cut caught Morgan’s men in a deadly crossfire.

Under such a pounding, Morgan’s troops were forced to fall back. They quickly regrouped and reformed for another advance, as did the four regiments of Thompson’s brigade. The black troops came on once more, only to be halted again. This went on for a good two hours. At 11 am further advances were halted, but the attackers remained within musket range of the Confederate works and stayed in contact with Cheatham’s right flank for the remainder of the day’s fighting. The black units had done everything asked of them, suffering severe losses in the process.

On the Union right, the corps of Wilson and Smith were delayed for some time while several divisions of infantry were being aligned properly. At 10 am the commanders began moving their two corps, seven full divisions in all, out of their works to initiate the grand movement of the day. Wilson’s troopers, 9,000 mounted and 3,000 dismounted, moved out in a westerly direction, parallel to Charlotte Pike, then they wheeled to the left, crossed the pike, and moved southward toward Harding Pike. The first Rebel forces Wilson’s men encountered were the skirmishers of the understrength, 700-man brigade of Brig. Gen. Matthew Ector (who was not present, having lost a leg at Atlanta). Hood had placed the brigade behind Richland Creek, between Charlotte and Harding Pikes, to provide some help to General James R. Chalmers’s badly outnumbered cavalry brigades. Wilson’s troopers advanced rapidly on Ector’s small force, capturing a number of prisoners and wagons, but the bulk of the defenders fired off a couple of volleys and then headed back toward the main Confederate works on Hillsboro Pike as ordered. Chalmers’s outnumbered force put up a spirited defense on Charlotte Pike, holding back an entire division of Wilson’s troopers, but it was simply too small to be much of a factor in the rest of the day’s fighting.

Can the Fort Be Held?

Smith’s corps moved out simultaneously with Wilson’s men. Bearing left, the corps moved across Harding Pike and advanced toward the Rebel works strung out along both sides of Hillsboro Pike. When reports began streaming in to Stewart about large movements on his left, he was well aware of what was happening—the enemy was trying to turn his flank. He immediately requested reinforcements. Hood ordered Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, whose corps had scarcely been touched, to send one division to Stewart and ordered Cheatham to dispatch Maj. Gen. William Bate’s division to the left as well.

As the two Union corps, more than 20,000 strong, moved forward across Harding Pike and approached the mile-long extension of the Confederate left along Hillsboro Pike, three of Hood’s Redoubts—3,4, and 5—nestled along the west side of the pike, came into view shortly before noon. Each of the forts boasted a four-gun battery of 12-pounder smoothbore Napoleons, fairly accurate up to about half a mile. Inside the works, 50 cannoneers and 100 dug-in riflemen had been told to hold their positions at all hazards.

Between noon and 1 pm, while in the Union center Wood was about to get the order to attack Montgomery Hill with his corps, Wilson and Smith opened fire with their rifled pieces on Redoubts 3, 4, and 5 after a good hour’s bombardment, the blue columns advanced again. The Confederates answered with volleys of double-shotted canister, halting the blue waves at least temporarily in front of Redoubts 3 and 4. Redoubt 5 was left exposed on Stewart’s far left. Hit from front and flank, Redoubt 5 fell fairly rapidly, with the loss of its four guns, overwhelmed by a brigade of Wilson’s dismounted troopers and a brigade of Smith’s infantry.

The captured fort’s guns were quickly turned on Redoubt 4, next in line, which was already being heavily shelled by the 16 guns placed in its front by Smith and Wilson. Inside Redoubt 4, Captain William Lumsden, a Virginia Military Institute graduate and former commandant of cadets at the University of Alabama, blazed away at the enemy with his gunners and 100 riflemen of the 29th Alabama. At 11 am, Lumsden called to the officers and asked them to stay and help him hold the small fort. They replied, “It can’t be done. There’s a whole army to your front.” It took almost three hours after the commencement of the initial artillery barrage before the attackers could finally overwhelm Lumsden and his garrison. When the end was near, Lumsden cried out, “Take care of yourselves, boys,” and scrambled back with the survivors to the main Confederate works west of Hillsboro Pike. It was by now almost 3 pm with the reduction of Redoubts 4 and 5 complete, the Union batteries displaced forward to focus their attention on the stone wall running along the eastern side of the pike.

Wood’s Soldiers Anxious to Play Their Part

Hoping that Wilson could extend his attack even further against Hood’s flank and rear and possibly even gain a foothold on the vital Granny White Pike, Thomas ordered Schofield to move up with his two divisions, held in reserve near the Union salient on Lawrence Hill, into the pocket between Smith’s corps and Wilson’s cavalry. This movement went off without a hitch, and soon Schofield’s corps of about 12,000 men was in position to join the general attack threatening to bury Hood’s left along Hillsboro Pike.

By early afternoon it was almost time for Wood’s anxious soldiers to play their part in the massive left wheel. All morning, the men of Wood’s IV Corps, the largest in Thomas’s force at 16,645 strong, had waited near Lawrence Hill while Steedman’s corps moved out to their left and Smith and Wilson’s on their right. Almost all the men were veterans of Franklin, where Wood had assumed command after Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley was wounded. Still a brigadier, Wood was trying to erase what he felt was an unfair stain on his record dating back to the Battle of Chickamauga, 15 months earlier, when he had obeyed a faulty order to pull his men out of line immediately before the massive Confederate breakthrough. Now Wood’s corps advanced on the Rebel salient on Montgomery Hill, which was nothing more than a line of nearly empty works manned by a skeleton force of skirmishers.

From his post on the near side of the valley, Wood marveled at the imposing sight of his attackers. At about 1 pm, the pickets of Maj. Gen. William Loring’s division looked out from their trenches along the crest of the hill and spotted Wood’s blue lines coming up the slope toward them. The handful of butternut-clad infantrymen fired off a few volleys and then prudently headed for the rear. In a matter of minutes, Wood’s legions came up and over the parapets and into the barren line of works, capturing a small number of prisoners. The assault, although successful, had only driven out the advanced forces of Stewart’s corps the main Rebel salient at Redoubt 1 was still intact.

Furious Shelling from Wood’s Men

While Wood was attacking, the fighting farther west continued unabated. Under an umbrella of artillery fire, Brig. Gen. John McArthur’s division advanced on the stone wall along Hillsboro Pike, routing the defenders with surprising ease. The two brigades there were reinforcements whom Hood had withdrawn at about noon from his center, and when they arrived they had been placed on Maj. Gen. Edward Walthall’s left opposite Redoubt 4. Walthall’s three brigades had been taking a terrible pounding for several hours from the Union artillery and had been holding firm, but when the units on their left collapsed, they began to give ground as well. By now, Stewart could see disaster looming. Two more brigades from Lee had come up, but they were little help holding back the blue wave that had breached Hillsboro Pike. A brigade of McArthur’s division advanced on Redoubt 3, and, although the defenders there greeted the attackers with a fierce blast of grapeshot and canister, the Federals pushed forward and carried the fort and its four guns. When they began taking fire from the defenders on Redoubt 2, McArthur’s men stormed that fort and took it as well.

After the success of his initial attack upon Montgomery Hill, Wood realized that Redoubt 1, on a high hill to his front, was the crucial Rebel position, and he brought up two batteries of six guns each to deliver a converging fire on the salient. The vital angle in Stewart’s line, with Walthall’s division to its left and Loring’s to its right, was being held by a brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. Claudius Sears. After a half hour of furious shelling, Wood ordered Brig. Gen. Washington Elliot to attack the salient. At 4:30 pm, angry because Elliot had delayed his attack, Wood ordered Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball to do the honors instead. With darkness approaching, Kimball promptly sent his division forward, and within minutes it breached the crest of the hill from the northeast. The men of Elliot’s division were close behind, as well as a brigade of McArthur’s coming in from the west. Four guns and a number of prisoners were taken.

Hood Counts Up His Losses

Stewart, his left overlapped by Wilson and his line along Hillsboro Pike crumbling, saw the inevitable coming and ordered Walthall and Loring to fall back. He was establishing a new line near two hills that shielded Granny White Pike. While Stewart’s corps was withdrawing in fairly good order, Colonel David Coleman’s troops, cut off during the fighting along Hillsboro Pike, fell back to Shy’s Hill, where they were met by Hood, who told them to hold at all costs. Bate’s division, which had arrived after marching over from the right flank, was ordered into a defensive position on a hill north of Coleman’s brigade. A division of Schofield’s corps, hungry for action, came up and drove Bate’s division off the hill, but when night fell the fighting ended and both armies bivouacked in place.

After Hood ordered Lee and Cheatham to withdraw their corps, Stewart pulled his various units together into a fairly solid line that connected at its northern end with Lee’s unshaken left flank. Stewart’s task was made easier by confusion in the Union lines caused by wild celebrations of victory. The intermingled units of Smith, Wood, Schofield, and Wilson, whose dismounted troopers had skirted Stewart’s left and gained a foothold near Granny White Pike, halted for the night in the open fields.

Hood’s left had taken a frightful pounding. Lost were 16 artillery pieces and some 2,200 soldiers, more than half of whom were captured when the Confederate left caved in. Thomas, believing that Hood might retreat, made plans for a pursuit, but several officers who knew Hood well, including Schofield, assured their commander that the battle was far from over. That night Hood established a new line of works along a span of hills two miles south of his original position. His men feverishly threw up breastworks along the front and heavily fortified two hills that would anchor the new line, Shy’s Hill on the left and Overton Hill on the right.

Hood instructed Cheatham, whose corps moved from the right flank to the left, to have Bate’s division join Coleman’s depleted brigade on Shy’s Hill. When the alignments were made, Hood had some 5,000 infantry on his left, 1,500 of them on Shy’s Hill. Anticipating a repeat of the first day’s tactics by Thomas, Hood told his chief engineer, Colonel S.W. Prestman, to select a line on which the reformed defenses could adequately protect the army’s left flank. The line Prestman chose was not at the military crest of Shy’s Hill, but farther down the reverse slope. If the Union attackers detected this flaw, they would be able to mass large numbers of troops in front of the hill, shielded from direct rifle fire, for a massive assault.

Wood Advances His Troops At First Light

To complete his new line, Hood put Stewart’s exhausted corps in the center and Lee’s corps on the right. Two fresh divisions, those of Maj. Gens. Henry Clayton and Carter Stevenson, which had seen only light action on the previous day and hadn’t been committed at Franklin, dug in astride the Franklin Pike and on the crest of Overton Hill. The line on Lee’s right bent back sharply to the southeast of the pike. Thomas had decided to combine Wood’s corps with Steedman’s provisional division to batter Hood’s right, in hopes of turning Hood’s flank and gaining a foothold on the crucial Franklin Pike. The assault by Steedman’s brigades would be an all-out attack, unlike the demonstrations of the first day.

At first light on the 16th, Wood advanced his corps toward Franklin Pike, pushing back the lines of Rebel skirmishers. Wood put one division on the pike and one on its left. With his third in reserve, he began moving south toward the new Rebel line. About a half mile from Lee’s new works, Wood’s corps encountered a heavy enemy skirmish line in front of Overton Hill. He brought his reserve division into line, and the entire IV Corps advanced, three divisions abreast, driving Lee’s skirmishers back into their lines under heavy musket and artillery fire. Wood then halted the column to await the major assault set for later that afternoon.

At 6 am, Steedman had moved forward to find the Rebel works to his front abandoned. He continued along Nolensville Pike, feeling for the new Confederate front, and took up position between Nolensville Pike and the left of Wood’s corps. There he remained until early afternoon, when he was ordered by Thomas to connect with Wood’s left and prepare for an assault. Meanwhile, on the Union right, Wilson went into action at 9:30 am, intending to move his dismounted troopers forward, connect with Schofield’s right flank, and hit the Rebels on the hills to his front. But the wet, muddy terrain and unexpectedly fierce resistance halted Wilson almost immediately, and when Thomas rode over to confer, Wilson suggested that his entire body of cavalry move over to Hood’s right and have a go at it there. Thomas refused.

Time to Take Overton Hill

Other than the skirmishing on the Confederate right, no serious fighting took place until late in the afternoon. The morning hours were marked by an extremely accurate and continuous Union artillery barrage along the length of Hood’s new line, with Shy Hill and Overton Hill taking especially heavy punishment. The Confederate smoothbores, fewer in number, were no match for the more than 100 Union rifled pieces that tore into the breastworks the gray-clad infantry had worked so hard to throw up the night before. Bate’s division on Shy’s Hill suffered under a particularly galling crossfire from three directions. A short distance to their front, one of Maj. Gen. Darius Couch’s batteries was firing at them from almost point-blank range, and during the course of the day delivered a staggering 560 shells onto their works.

During the morning and early afternoon hours, the Union troops on Lee’s front launched a number of probing attacks. When it seemed that the fighting on his right might escalate, endangering his hold on Franklin Pike, Hood withdrew three brigades of Smith’s division from their positions left of Shy’s Hill and sent them to support Lee on the right. This decision would come back to haunt Hood—by the time these troops arrived, the attack on Overton Hill had been repulsed and there wasn’t enough time for them to get back into position on Bate’s left.

Lee’s front had been taking heavy and accurate artillery fire, but the bulk of Hood’s artillery at Lee’s rear answered back furiously. At about 3 pm, with light rain falling, Wood felt that the time was right to overrun Overton Hill. He sent his columns forward. The brigade of Colonel Sidney Post took the lead, with that of Colonel Abel Streight in support. Steedman’s two USCT brigades, seven regiments in all, moved up on Post’s left as the assault began.

Wood’s attackers reached the base of Overton Hill and moved steadily up the slope through a hail of Confederate musket, grapeshot, and canister fire. At the outer edge of the works, Post was wounded and Lee’s infantrymen rose in their trenches and delivered a terrible volley of musket fire that brought the advance to a sudden halt. Wood recalled later, “After the repulse our soldiers, white and colored, lay indiscriminately near the enemy’s works at the outer edge of the abatis.” Steedman’s 13th Regiment, made up primarily of contrabands, suffered heavy losses in its baptism of fire—55 killed and 165 wounded. Its loss of 40 percent of its strength constituted the greatest regimental loss of the two-day fight on either side.

“For God’s Sake, Drive the Yankee Cavalry From Our Left and Rear or All Is Lost”

Meanwhile, on the Union right, Wilson’s gamble paid off. With two mounted and two dismounted divisions, he had finally forced Chalmers to give ground and had strengthened his foothold on Granny White Pike. Wilson’s troopers captured a courier who was taking a message from Hood to Cheatham that read, “For God’s sake, drive the Yankee cavalry from our left and rear or all is lost.” Wilson now felt that victory was at hand. Once he had managed to gain Cheatham’s rear, he would join Schofield in a general attack.

For two solid hours, Wilson sent couriers to Schofield, urging him to begin his attack, and finally Wilson proceeded to Schofield’s headquarters in person. By this time, the attacks on Overton Hill were subsiding, and Thomas was en route to Schofield’s headquarters as well. Schofield was being strangely hesitant. Having already received one full division of reinforcements, he was now requesting another before he would begin his attack, fearing heavy losses if he attacked Hood’s breastworks. Thomas bluntly told him, “The battle must be fought, even if men are killed.”

While Thomas was imploring Schofield to begin his advance, the group of officers suddenly witnessed a brigade of McArthur’s division, under Colonel William McMillen, advancing toward Shy’s Hill without waiting for permission. Thomas turned to Schofield and said, “General Smith is attacking without waiting for you. Please advance your entire line.” With this direct order, Schofield finally advanced.

A Quick Collapse

Cheatham’s soldiers, battered by Union artillery, now faced corps-sized attacks to their front and flank. They could also see Wilson’s dismounted cavalrymen rushing over the hills to their rear. With his left under so much pressure, Cheatham brought up reinforcements and bent his far left flank into the shape of a fishhook, until he had one line of infantrymen firing to the south and another line firing to the north. Only 100 yards separated the two lines. Hood pulled Coleman’s brigade off Shy’s Hill to set up a front on the extreme left, on the east side of Granny White Pike, to hold off Wilson when he was reinforced by another brigade. Bate had to further thin his lines on the hill to cover the position vacated by Coleman’s troops.

The brigade on Bate’s extreme left, that of Brig. Gen. Daniel Govan, was driven back down the hill and into a field behind Bate’s division. Govan’s brigade was the only one left on Bate’s flank, the other three brigades having been sent to support Lee, and had been tasked with covering a front originally assigned to an entire division. Minutes later a fatal breach occurred. Union infantry had massed in strength, almost undetected, on the steep slope to the front of Shy’s Hill, and as they came up and over the hill they encountered the 20th Tennessee under Colonel William Shy. As other units began fading away, Shy and his men stood firm, and the fighting escalated into savage hand-to-hand combat. Shy’s men continued firing until they ran out of ammunition and were surrounded. Shy was shot in the head and killed, and almost half his unit was killed or wounded. The 37th Georgia, on Bate’s left, also fought savagely until it was overrun and virtually wiped out.

With Smith to their front, Schofield to their left, and Wilson coming up from the rear, Bate’s men were buried under the weight of overwhelming numbers all three brigade commanders were captured. “The breach once made,” Bate recalled later, “the lines lifted from either side as far as I could see almost instantly and fled in confusion.” Panic began to spread among Cheatham’s units on the left and Stewart’s in the center. Soon the bulk of Bate’s three brigades turned and headed for the rear in full retreat. On the northeastern front, the men of Steedman’s and Wood’s corps, hearing the shouts of victory coming from the Union right, renewed their assaults without waiting for orders, capturing 14 guns and hundreds of prisoners.

The Confederate artillery commander, Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson, was captured along with almost all of his division and the remaining guns. The collapse came so quickly that the batteries’ teams of horses couldn’t be brought up quickly enough to draw away the guns. Watching from horseback, Hood was astonished. Only an hour earlier his lines had been holding, his men in the center and right waving their battle flags in defiance. He had even decided on a plan to achieve victory the next morning—he would withdraw his entire army during the night and attack the Union left at dawn. Now, with full darkness approaching, Cheatham and Stewart had caved in, their men fleeing en masse for Franklin Pike, the only remaining avenue of retreat. Hood, Cheatham, and other officers tried to rally the panic-stricken troops, but it was useless. Everywhere the woods were full of fleeing soldiers, many of whom dropped their weapons and packs to lighten their loads as they ran.

Further Hardships After the Fighting for Both Sides

When the blue legions approached Lee’s corps along the pike and on Overton Hill, one division wavered and broke, and a second faltered. Lee heroically rallied a group of retreating soldiers for a stand behind the center of his line, and this small force checked the blue columns long enough to allow Clayton to withdraw his division and form it in the woods astride Franklin Pike, half a mile away. Both armies were now in motion, heading south. The drizzle turned into driving rain, mixing with the snow on the ground. Franklin Pike quickly became clogged with thousands of shaken soldiers, abandoned wagons, and riderless horses. Hood later wrote, “I beheld for the first and only time a Confederate army abandon the field in confusion.”

With the battle lost, Hood’s task was to save as much of his army as he could. He sent Chalmers with his two depleted brigades to set up a barrier near Granny White Pike. Soon Wilson’s four divisions arrived, and vicious, hand-to-hand fighting ensued in the rain and darkness, lasting long enough to enable Hood to get the bulk of his army safely onto Franklin Pike and headed south. Thomas arrived on the scene, miles in advance of the infantry. “Dang it to hell, Wilson!” cried the normally unflappable commander. “Didn’t I tell you we could lick ‘em? Didn’t I tell you we could lick ‘em if only they would let us alone?”

After two days of heavy fighting, both armies faced further hardships. In the coldest winter in Tennessee in decades, Hood’s ragged army slogged through the rain, sleet, and snow, followed closely by Wood’s infantry and Wilson’s cavalry in a race for the Tennessee River. In his retreat Hood was aided by three factors: inclement weather that turned the roads to mud lack of forage for the Union pursuers and the excellent rearguard actions of Lee, Chalmers, and the redoubtable Forrest, who rejoined the army at Columbia. Just as Thomas had been badgered to attack Hood without delay in the first days of December, now he was urged by his superiors hundreds of miles away to mount a vigorous pursuit to complete the destruction of the fleeing enemy. Grant, as usual, had nothing good to say—it wasn’t long before he was telling his subordinates that Thomas was “too slow to attack, not vigorous enough in pursuit.”

When Hood’s dispirited army finally crossed the Tennessee River into Alabama on the night of December 25-26, Thomas called a halt to his pursuit. The Confederate invasion of Tennessee was over, and the gallant Army of Tennessee would never again take the field as an effective fighting force. Despite what Grant and Halleck said—and would continue to say—about his alleged “case of the slows,” Thomas had won one of the most decisive victories of the entire war.

This article by John Walker first appeared in the Warfare History Network on September 6, 2015.


What Killed the Infamous Stonewall Jackson?

He was a legendary figure to the country and the South, but precisely how he died is contested.

Making a Diagnosis

On Thursday, May 7, Jackson’s wife, Anna, arrived with their five-month-old daughter, Julia. The sight of her husband’s mangled body and his difficulty breathing alarmed Anna, who said Jackson’s condition “wrung my soul with such grief and anguish as it had never before experienced. He looked like a dying man.” Upon seeing Anna, Jackson smiled and said, “I am very glad to see you looking so bright,” before falling back asleep. When he awoke and saw the look of concern on her face, he said, “My darling, you must cheer up and not wear a long face. I love cheerfulness and brightness in a sickroom.” For his sake, Anna tried to display a happy countenance, but her despair continued to grow.

McGuire had requested the assistance of Dr. Samuel B. Morrison, who arrived late that afternoon. Morrison was a medical school classmate of McGuire’s and a relative of Anna’s. He had treated Jackson before the war and was recognized by the general when he arrived. “There is an old familiar face,” said Jackson, although Morrison was actually five years younger. Morrison was unconvinced that Jackson’s labored breathing and pain in the side were due to pneumonia. He favored a diagnosis of prostration, or complete physical collapse.

Some accounts maintain that Jackson had been ill with a respiratory tract infection prior to the Battle of Chancellorsville, pointing to the fact that he was wearing his raincoat on a warm day owing to chills. However, none of the eight physicians who attended him in the last week of his life mentioned this history or described any sign or symptoms suggesting a preexisting infection. McGuire and Morrison conferred and decided to send to Richmond for Dr. David Tucker, a leading authority on pneumonia. In the meantime, McGuire requested that two other surgeons, Robert J. Breckinridge and John Phillip Smith, join the medical team.

Jackson was restless throughout Thursday night, calling out various orders to his men. “A.P. Hill, prepare for action!” he shouted on one occasion. “Pass the infantry to the front!” he commanded, as well as “Tell Major Hawks to send forward provisions for the troops!”

The four physicians carefully examined Jackson the next morning. The wounds were suppurating, but seemed to be healing normally. There was little they could do, however, to relieve Jackson’s persistent shortness of breath and chest pain. He seemed to be growing weaker by the hour. After another restless night, Tucker arrived from Richmond on the morning of May 9 and confirmed McGuire’s original diagnosis of pneumonia. He recommended cupping. Hot glasses were applied to the afflicted area to “draw the blood.”

“I am not Afraid to Die”

Jackson continued to decline, fading in and out of consciousness. When he awoke in the afternoon and saw several surgeons standing around his bed, he said, “I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go. I am not afraid to die.” Following another difficult night, the general awoke on Sunday, May 10, completely exhausted. It was apparent to everyone that he could not last the day. Anna broke down sobbing and told Jackson that there was no hope for his recovery. Jackson called for McGuire and said, “Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her I am to die today. Is it so?” McGuire replied that there was nothing further the doctors could do. Jackson paused, then responded, “Very good, very good. It is all right.”

After brief visits from little Julia and Major Pendleton, Jackson lapsed into a coma. He awoke shortly before 3:15 pm and spoke his final, enigmatic words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”

The Diagnosis in Retrospect

While McGuire and the other attending physicians all agreed that pneumonia was the cause of Jackson’s death, modern-day analysis raised the more likely possibility of pulmonary embolism. The source of the so-called pleuro-pneumonia was presumed to be a lung contusion incurred during Jackson’s fall from the litter. However, from the distance of a few feet at most, the ribs would have absorbed most of the force of the fall, protecting the underlying lung. There would also have been external evidence of trauma such as bruising in an injury serious enough to result in a lung contusion. Neither McGuire nor the other physicians found any evidence of such trauma.

Pleuro-pneumonia is a medical term that is rarely used today. Pleurisy occurs when inflammation involves the pleura, or outer surface, of the lung. Pleuritic chest pain often accompanies pneumonia, thus the term pleuro-pneumonia. Sir William Osler’s 1892 edition of his classic textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine, states: “Pneumonia is a self-limited disease, and runs its course uninfluenced in any way by medicine. It can neither be aborted nor cut short by any means at our command.” Osler went on to say that “the first distressing system is usually pain in the side, which may be relieved by local depletion—by cupping or leeching.” Such treatment was used unsuccessfully on Jackson.

According to the thinking of the day, Jackson’s clinical presentation fit with pneumonia. His physicians cannot be faulted for their diagnosis or treatment, although it should be noted that 19th-century physicians were adept at eliciting the subtle physical signs of pneumonia, such as hearing a cracking sound in the lungs with a stethoscope or finding dullness to percussion of the chest. Neither of these classic signs of pneumonia was found by any of Jackson’s doctors.

In terminal pneumonia, the clinical course typically goes from bad to worse. But in Jackson’s illness, there were two distinct, sudden episodes of deterioration. These occurred on May 3 and May 6, and both were described as being associated with the onset of acute chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and perhaps fever. These symptoms are consistent with pulmonary emboli, which are blood clots traveling to the lungs. Among the numerous complications following amputation of an extremity are nonhealing of the stump, infection, and thromboembolism, or the formation of a blood clot within a large vein. According to McGuire, Jackson’s wound appeared to be healing properly and infection did not seem significant.

It is known today that an amputee is at significant risk for venous thromboembolism and pulmonary embolism. Immobilization of the patient following surgery can allow the blood to pool and clot within the veins. More dangerous is the formation of clots in the large veins that are tied off during amputation. The tying off of the veins, or ligation, leads to stagnation of blood in the veins, which leads in turn to a thrombus, or clot, which can then travel to the lungs and kill the patient.

Even with today’s advanced technology, it is estimated that as many as half of all pulmonary emboli go undetected by physicians. The current treatment and prevention of thromboembolism is accomplished by the use of blood-thinning agents such as Heparin and Lovenox. Although Stonewall Jackson’s death was unpreventable, given the state of medicine at the time, it is more likely that he died from thromboembolism as a direct consequence of his wound and amputation, than from the indirect cause of pneumonia.


Watch the video: Gods and Generals: General Jacksons Farewell Speech to his Brigade HD (December 2021).