The death of Stonewall

Monday, May 11, 1863. Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill wrote:

“Lt. General T.J. Jackson died near Guinea [Guiney’s] Station at 2 o’clock last evening from wounds received in the battle of the 3rd inst near Chancellorsville. His body will be sent to Lexington, Virginia for internment. General Jackson was not wounded by the enemy but by his own men through mistake.”

Actually, Jackson had died of complications of pneumonia contracted while recovering from the amputation of an arm wounded by Confederate pickets. As 17th Mississippi diarist Robert A. Moore recorded that day, Jackson’s death was a blow to the morale of Rebels everywhere.

“No words can describe the sorrow with which this intelligence will be received from the Potomac to the Rio Grande.”

John Beauchamp Jones, a civilian working in the Confederate War Department in Richmond, recorded his diary:

“His remains will arrive in the city at 5 p.m. this afternoon. The flags are at half-mast, and all the government offices and even places of business are closed. A multitude of people, mostly women and children, are standing silently in the streets, awaiting the arrival of the hero, destined never again to defend their homes and honor….

“The remains will be placed in state at the Capitol, where the people will be permitted to see him. The grief is universal, and the victory involving such a loss is regarded as a calamity….

“The funeral was very solemn and imposing…There was no vain ostentation. The pall bearers were generals. The President followed near the hearse in a carriage, looking thin and frail in health…The war-horse was led by the general’s servant, and flags and black feathers abounded…

“Arriving at the Capitol, the whole multitude passed the bier, and gazed upon the hero’s face, seen through a glass in the coffin….Yet there are other Jacksons in the army, who will win victories,—no one doubts it.”

Minutemen of Attala Private W. Clendenden Black, recovering from illness at the Camp Winder hospital in Richmond, later wrote home that the Confederate capital,

“….has been clad in mourning for several days for the hero Stonewall Jackson. It was a great loss, but I think was intended by providence and we should look at it as being for our good. I believe that God is with us and will spare enough generals to lead us to independence.”

Hill noted an apparently coincident event in the Union camps across the river the night before. “Sky rockets and signals were seen in several directions in their camp but all is quiet this morning.”

It was interpreted as preparations for a renewed Union assault rather than what it might have been: a celebration of the death of the Confederate icon.

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About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in Fredericksburg, The Commanders, The Spartan Band, William H. Hill Diary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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