He was considered to be one of the greatest heroes of the Confederacy, and when he was killed in 1863, it was a huge loss to the rebel cause. Even today, the story of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is revered by history fans across the globe, and has been studied by students of military and Civil War history. But you wouldn’t think a man of Jackson’s legendary status could just die like a regular person, would you? If so, you would be wrong.
Born in what is now West Virginia, in 1824, Jackson graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with the Class of 1846. Serving during the Mexican-American War, he won acclaim for his actions at the Battle of Chapultepec and went on to teach at the Virginia Military Institute from 1851 to 1861, when he resigned to join the Confederate Army.
Distinguishing himself at the First Battle of Bull Run, and continuing on to win accolades and rise through the ranks, he got his famous nickname when another general rallied his troops during battle by shouting, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”
Jackson was indeed fearless in combat and beloved by his men. That’s why it’s ironic that such a man would not die at the hands of the enemy but by friendly fire. It happened at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, when he was mortally wounded by his own troops, who mistook him for a Union officer.
Jackson was hit by three bullets, one in his right hand, another in his left elbow, and a third three inches below the left shoulder. In those days, battlefield medicine was a far cry from what it is today, and the best treatment for wounds like Jackson’s was swift amputation in a field hospital, which is what happened with the general.
As the story goes, the next day, a visitor named Reverend Lacy came to see Jackson and pray for him before he was moved to Guinea Station, where he died a few days later, on May 10th. As he was leaving the hospital tent, Lacy spotted Jackson’s severed arm lying outside the tent, waiting to be buried along with other limbs of wounded soldiers. Believing that a man of Jackson’s stature deserved more, he took the arm to the nearby Ellwood plantation, owned by his brother James. There the brothers buried the arm in their small family cemetery.
In 1903, a man named James Power Smith, who had served on Jackson’s staff during the war and who later married into the Lacy family, erected a stone marker in the cemetery reading simply reading, “Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863.” There has been a lot of speculation over the years as to the exact location where the arm is buried, or if it was ever really buried there at all. It seems nobody really knows for sure.
But even today, nearly 160 years later, people come to Ellwood Plantation, which is now a part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia, to pay their respects to Jackson’s appendage. Fifteen members of the Lacy family are buried in unmarked graves in the little cemetery, but only Jackson’s arm has a marker.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and Ellwood Plantation are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. For more information, visit the park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/frsp/index.htm
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
Thought For The Day – Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.