Chancellorsville And The Death Of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

 

A recent home inspection found me near Fredericksburg VA, and a house on the Chancellorsville Civil War Battlefield.

This is where Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was shot and mortally wounded.

I needed to stop by.

Not having time to take in the whole battlefield, I wanted to see where General Jackson had been shot and fell from his horse.

There are markers for everything at this battlefield.

Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had been under pressure and a serious threat from a southward campaign led by the north's General Joseph Hooker.

Chancellorsville saw a brilliant flanking maneuver by Lee and Jackson, dividing their armies and attacking the timid Hooker, and in many bloody engagements drove the north from the area.

2 May 1863 is regarded as the second bloodiest day of the Civil War with many thousands killed, wounded and captured on both sides.

After a particularly successful thrust, curtailed by dark, General Jackson and his aids were riding back to headquarters, along the trail to the right.

They were mistaken for Union cavalry by the 18th North Carolina Infantry who said, "Halt, who goes there?", but firing before they could get a reply.  Jackson was hit just to the right of this sign.

Many in Jackson's group were killed, along with many horses.  General Jackson was shot twice in his left arm and once in the right hand.  His horse continued to run for another hundred yards, with Jackson finally falling to the ground right beside the road, now VA Route 3.

The hiking trail continues to this point.

It is only a few yards from the Visitor's Center, and hard to miss!

Jackson's left arm was immediately amputated by a surgeon on the battlefield, and he was removed from here to a plantation house in nearby Guinea Station.  It was thought he would be able to recover comfortably there.

But he contracted pneumonia, dying 10 days later.

Wracked by pneumonia, fever and shock, he left us some of the most interesting last words.  They rank among the best last words ever recorded.

From his bed, he began to bark orders, "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks..."  Then he stopped, apparently gathering some spiritual strength, his pale face suddenly softening and smiling, and he said,

"It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday.  Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of yonder trees."

Pondering the moment I looked up.  Very high in the sky I saw a hawk!  It was motionless against the wind and very high.

Extending the photo lens, and hoping I got it in frame, I snapped a photo as it posed for me!

Looking at the wing pattern I think it was a

golden or red-tailed hawk. 
 

What an interesting moment!  Was it a sign?  Was it my moment with a gesture from General Jackson?

 

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!