Thomas Stonewall Jackson biography


At Chancellorsville Jackson and a few members of his staff advanced along the turnpike for a short distance in the direction of the enemy, when suddenly there was a volley of musketry and the party turned and started for their own lines. As they advanced they were mistaken for Federal cavalry, and a body of Confederates opened fire upon them. General Jackson was thrice wounded. One ball passed through his right hand, another struck his left arm below the elbow, shattering the bone and severing the main artery, while a third struck the same arm above the elbow. Medical aid was hastily summoned, and, although the wounds caused him great pain, he made no complaint. He was carried for a distance by members of his staff, and then determined to walk. Finally, becoming so weak that he was unable to proceed farther, he was placed upon a litter. All of this time they were under a heavy fire from the enemy. One of the men carrying him was shot, and the litter fell violently to the ground, causing Jackson for a time excruciating pain. A few hundred yards farther on, Dr. McGuire appeared with an ambulance, and the General was taken to the field infirmary at the Wilderness Tavern. The left arm was amputated two inches below the shoulder. He complained that his right side had been injured in falling from the litter, and thought he had struck a stump or stone. No external evidence of injury, however, could be discovered. During the first few days he seemed to be recovering, but on the Thursday following was attacked with nausea and complained of great pain. Examination showed that pleuro-pneumonia had set in. His wife, who had already been sent for, arrived and remained at his bedside until he died. The end came peacefully on Sunday, May 10, 1863. Jackson faced death as calmly on his bed of pain as he had on the field of battle, and his last words, uttered distinctly and clearly as the unconsciousness, from which there was to be no awakening, began to fall upon him, showed how serene was his mind and conscience. These words were: "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." His death was a severe blow to the cause for which he had fought, and he was sincerely mourned by the South. His remains, according to his own request, were buried at Lexington, after the highest marks of honor and respect had been paid by the President, cabinet and officials of the Confederacy.

As a warrior, "Stonewall" Jackson has frequently been compared to Napoleon. In the characters of these two men as warriors there is indeed a great similarity. The wonderful marches and the rapidity with which movements in strategy were carried out by Jackson were never surpassed by Napoleon. The clear vision of military plans which Napoleon possessed to so remarkable a degree was also a distinguishing characteristic of "Stonewall" Jackson. The confidence and loyalty of soldiers for their leader was never shown by the French troops of the "Little Corporal" to a more pronounced extent than was that of the Southern soldiers to "Old Jack." Like Napoleon, too, Jackson was on terms of friendly familiarity with the common trooper under his command. While Jackson was not a strict disciplinarian, no man ever drew the line of duty closer, and none ever performed it more faithfully. These traits, together with his calm and never-failing courage, his confidence and cool daring, and the aggressive spirit which at all times predominated in his movements during the campaigns, account for the devotion with which his men followed their intrepid leader against many a forlorn hope and turned the tide of more than one desperate conflict. "Stonewall" Jackson's genius as a soldier was excelled only by his gallantry and indomitable bravery. He was throughout a consistent and practical Christian, and solemnly attributed to the Almighty every victory, while defeats were accepted with a calm resignation as part of the plan of the Creator. Jackson died as he had lived, a warrior and a Christian. General Lee, in announcing the death of Jackson to the army, wrote: "The daring, skill, and energy of this great and good soldier, by a decree of all-wise Providence, are now lost to us. But while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God as our hope and strength."

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