Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stuart's First Ride Around McClellan - Part Two

In part two of the article, written for Century Magazine by a participant of Stuart's ride around McClellan, the raid comes to a successful conclusion.

By W.T. Robins, Colonel, C.S.A.

The road now being clear, we marched on briskly, and arriving we charged down upon it with a yell. We could see the enemy scattered about the building and lounging around before we charged them. The greater part scattered for cover, and were pursued by our people. I pushed straight for the station-house, where I found the captain of the company of infantry, with thirteen of his men, standing in front of the building, but with no arms in their hands. Only one of them seemed disposed to show fight. He ran to the platform where the muskets were stacked, and, seizing one of them, began to load. Before he could ram his cartridge home, a sweep of the saber, in close proximity to his head, made him throw down his gun, and, jumping into a ditch, he dodged under the bridge over the railroad and made his escape. I had no time to pursue him; but, turning to look after the others, met the captain, who, sword in hand, advanced and surrendered himself and his company as prisoners of war. I then proceeded to obstruct the railroad.

To do this effectually, I caused a tree to be cut down which was standing on the side of the road. It fell across the railroad. In addition to this, I placed across the tracks an oak-sill about a foot square and fourteen feet long. I had barely time to do this before a train from the direction of Richmond came thundering down. At this time General Stuart, with the main body, arrived at the station. The engine driver of the coming train, probably seeing the obstructions on the track and a large force of cavalry there, suspected danger, and, being a plucky fellow, put on all steam, and came rushing down. The engine, striking the obstructions, knocked them out of the way and pressed on without accident. General Stuart had dismounted a number of his men, and posted them on a high bank overlooking a cut in the road, just below the station, through which the train was about to pass. They threw in a close and effective fire upon the passing train, loaded with troops. Many of these were killed and wounded.

It was now the second night since leaving camp, and haversacks with which we started from camp had long since been emptied. The march had been so rapid that there was little opportunity of foraging for man or beast. Except a little bread and meat, brought out to the column by the country people as we passed along, we had had nothing since daybreak, The men were weary and hungry, and the horses almost exhausted by the long fast and severe exercise. As soon as a proper disposition had been made of the prisoners and of the captured horses and mules, the column moved on. Down through New Kent County, to a place called New Baltimore, we marched as rapidly as our condition would permit. I was still in the command of the advance-guard, marching some distance ahead of the column, and had orders to halt at this point, and await the coming up of the main body. Fortunately, an enterprising Yankee had established a store here, to catch the trade of all persons passing from McClellan's army to his base of supplies at the White House. He had crackers, cheese, canned fruits, sardines, and many other dainties dear to the cavalryman; and in the brief hour spent with him, we, of the advance, were made new men. I fear little was left to cheer and to invigorate those in the rear. The main body arriving, "forward" was the order-straight down through New Kent to Sycamore Ford on the Chickahominy.

A beautiful full moon lighted our way and cast weird shadows across our path. Expecting each moment to meet the enemy, every bush in the distance looked like a sentinel, and every jagged tree bending over the road like a vidette. Marching all night, we arrived at the ford between daybreak and sunrise; and here our real troubles began. To our chagrin, we found the stream swollen by recent rains almost out of its banks, and running like a torrent. No man or horse could get over without swimming, and it happened that the entrance to the ford on our side was below the point at which we had to come out on the other side. Therefore, we had to swim against the current. Owing to the mud, it was not practicable for any number of horses to approach the river at any point except by the road leading to the ford.

We therefore tried it there for two long hours. The 9th Cavalry made the trial. After repeated efforts to swim the horses over we give up, for we had crossed over only seventy-five men and horses in two hours. While we were trying to reach the opposite bank Stuart came up, and, finding the crossing at this point impracticable, rode off to find another farther down the river. At a point about one mile below, known as Forge Bridge, he succeeded in throwing across one branch of the river a bridge strong enough to bear the artillery, and upon which the men, having been dismounted, could walk. Here the approach on our side was higher up stream than the point at which we would come out on the other side. So the horses were formed into a column of fours, pushed into the water, and, swimming down stream, they easily landed on the other side. After a few horses had been crossed in this manner we found no difficulty, the others following on quite readily.

The column was now upon an island formed by the two branches of the Chickahominy, and to reach the mainland it was necessary to cross the other branch of that river. This was, however, accomplished, but with some difficulty. The ford at this crossing was at that time very deep, and the river out of its banks and overflowing the flats to the depth of about two feet for at least a half-mile. At this place the limber of a caisson stuck fast in the mud, and we left it.

On leaving the river, General Stuart directed me to take charge of the rear-guard, and, when all had crossed, to burn the bridge. In accordance with these orders, I directed the men to collect piles of fence rails, heap them on the bridge, and set them afire. By my orders the horses had been led some distance back from the river into the brush, where they were concealed from view. The men were lounging about on the ground when the bridge fell in. I was seated under a tree on the bank of the river, and at the moment that the hissing of the burning timbers of the bridge let me know that it had fallen into the water, a rifle-shot rang out from the other side, and the whistling bullet cut off a small limb over my head, which fell into my lap. The shot was probably fired by some scout who had been following us, but who was afraid to fire until the bridge was gone. With a thankful heart for his bad aim, I, at once, withdrew the men and pushed on after the column. When I came to the ford, I found it necessary to swim the horses a short distance, it having been deepened by the crossing of such a large body of horse. Soon the column was in sight, and the march across Charles City County to the James River was made as vigorously as the jaded horses were able to stand. The men, though weary and hungry; were in fine spirits, and jubilant over the successful crossing of the Chickahominy. About sunset we neared the James, at the plantation of Colonel Wilcox. Here we rested for about two hours, having marched into a field of clover, where the horses ate their all. In the twilight, fires were lighted to cook the rations just brought in by our foragers.

We were now twenty-five miles from Richmond, on the "James River Road." Had the enemy been aware of our position, it would have been easy for him to throw a force between us and Richmond, and so cut us off. But the Federal General was not well served by his scouts, nor did his cavalry furnish him with accurate information of our movements. Relying upon the mistakes of the enemy, Stuart resolved to march straight on into Richmond by the River road on which we now lay. To accomplish this with the greater safety, it was necessary for him to march at once. Accordingly, I was ordered to take the advance guard and move out. As soon as the cravings of hunger were appeased, sleep took possession of us. Although in the saddle and in motion, and aware that the safety of the expedition depended on great vigilance in case the enemy should be encountered, it was hard to keep awake. I was constantly falling asleep, and awaking with a start when almost off my horse. This was the condition of every man in the column. Not one had closed his eyes in sleep for forty-eight hours.

The full moon lighted us on our way as we passed along the River road, and frequently the windings of this road brought us near to and in sight of the James River, where lay the enemy's fleet. In the gray twilight of the dawn of Sunday, we passed the "Double Gates," "Strawberry Plains," and "Tighlman's gate" in succession. at "Tighlman's" we could see the masts of the Fleet, not far off. Happily for us, the banks were high, and I imagine they had no lookout in the rigging, and we passed by unobserved. The sight of the enemy's fleet had aroused us somewhat, when "Who goes there!" rang out on the stillness of the early morning. The challenger proved to be a vidette of the 10th Virginia Cavalry, commanded by Colonel J. Lucius Davis, who was picketing that road. Soon I was shaking hands with Colonel Davis and receiving his congratulations. Then we crossed the stream by the jug factory, up toward "New Market" heights, by the drill-house, and about a mile beyond we called halt for a little rest and food. From this point the several regiments were dismissed to their respective camps.

We lost one man killed and a few wounded, and no prisoners. The most important result was the confidence the men had gained in themselves and in their leaders. The country rang out with praises of the men who had raided entirely around General McClellan's powerful army, bringing prisoners and plunder from under his very nose. The Southern papers were filled with accounts of the expedition, none accurate, and most of them marvelous.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stuart's First Ride Around McClellan - Part One

This eyewitness account of Stuart's first ride around McClellan was printed in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. The original can be found in Volume II starting on page 271.

By W.T. Robins, Colonel, C.S.A.

THE battle of “Seven Pines,” or “Fair Oaks,” had been fought with no result. The temporary success of the Confederates early in the engagement, had been more than counter balanced by the reverses they sustained on the second day, and the two armies lay passively watching each other in front of Richmond. At this time the cavalry of Lee's army was commanded by General J. E. B. Stuart, and this restless officer conceived the idea of flanking the right wing of the Federal army near Ashland, and moving around to the rear, to cross the Chickahominy River at a place called Sycamore Ford, in New Kent County, march over to the James River, and return to the Confederate lines near Deep Bottom, in Henrico County. In carrying out this plan, Stuart would completely encircle the army of General McClellan. At the time of this movement, the writer was adjutant of the 9th Virginia cavalry.

When the orders were issued from headquarters directing the several commands destined to form the expedition to prepare three days' rations, and the ordnance officers to issue sixty rounds of ammunition to each man, I remember the surmises and conjectures as to our destination. The officers and men were in high spirits in anticipation of a fight, and when the bugles rang out " “Boots and Saddles,” every man was ready. The men left behind in camp were bewailing their luck, and those forming the detail for the expedition were elated at the prospect of some excitement. “Good-bye, boys; we are going to help old Jack drive the Yanks into the Potomac,”[1] I heard one of them shout to those left behind.

On the afternoon of June 12th we went out to the Brooke turnpike, preparatory to the march. The cavalry column was the 9th Virginia, commanded by Colonel W. H. F. Lee, the 1st Virginia, led by Colonel Fitz Lee, and the Jeff Davis Legion, under Colonel W. H. F. Martin. A section of the Stuart Horse Artillery, commanded by Captain Pelham, accompanied the expedition. The whole numbered twelve hundred men. They passed in bivouac in the vicinity of Ashland, and orders were issued enforcing strict silence and forbidding the use of fires, as the success of the expedition would depend upon secrecy and celerity.

On the following morning, at the break of dawn, the troopers were mounted and the march was begun without a bugle blast, and the column headed direct for Hanover Court House, distant about two hours' ride. Here we had the first sight of the enemy. A scouting party of the 5th U.S. Cavalry was in the village, but speedily decamped when our troops were ascertained to be Confederates. One prisoner was taken after a hot chase across country. We now moved rapidly to Hawes's Shop, where a Federal picket was surprised and captured without firing a shot. Hardly had the prisoners been disarmed and turned over to the provost guard when the Confederate advance was driven in upon the main body by a squadron of Federal cavalry, sent out from Old Church to ascertain by reconnaissance whether the report of a Confederate advance was true or false.

General Stuart at once ordered Colonel W. H. F. Lee, commanding the regiment leading the column, to throw forward a squadron to meet the enemy. Colonel Lee directed Captain Swann, chief of the leading squadron of his regiment, to charge with the saber. Swann moved off at a trot, and, turning a corner of the road, saw the enemy's squadron about two hundred yards in front of him. The order to charge was given, and the men dashed forward in fine style. The onset was so sudden that the Federal cavalry broke and scattered in confusion. The latter had a start of barely two hundred yards, but the Confederate yell that broke upon the air lent them wings, and only a few fell into our hands. The rest made their escape after a chase of a mile and a half.
Now the road became very narrow, and the brush on either side was a place so favorable for an ambuscade that Captain Swann deemed it prudent to draw rein and sound the bugle to recall his men. Stuart, who had been marching steadily with main body of the Confederate column, soon arrived at the front, and the advance guard, which I had all along commanded, was directed to move forward again. I at once dismounted the men, and pushed forward up a hill in my front. Just beyond the hill, I ran into a force of Federal cavalry drawn up in column of fours, ready to charge. Just as my advance-guard was about to run into him, I heard their commanding officer give the order to charge. I fell back and immediately noticed General Stuart in the presence of the enemy.

Captain Latane, commanding a squadron of the 9th Virginia, was directed to move forward and clear the road. He moved up the hill at a trot, and when in sight of the enemy in the road gave the command to charge, and with a yell the men rushed forward. At the top of the hill, simultaneously with Latane's order to charge, a company of Federal cavalry, deployed as skirmishers in the woods on the right of the road, were stampeded, and rushed back into the woods to make good their retreat to their friends. The head of Latane's squadron, then just fairly up the hill, was in the line of their retreat and was separated from the rest of the squadron, cut off by the rush of the Federals, and borne along with them up the road toward the enemy.

I was riding at the side of Latane, and just at the time when the Federal company rushed back into the road Captain Latane fell from his horse, shot dead. Though rush of the Federals separated myself and six of the leading files of the squadron from our friends, and we were borne along by the flying Federals. Although the Federal cavalry both in front and rear were in full retreat, our situation was perilous in the extreme. Soon we were pushed by foes in our rear into the ranks of those in our front, and a series of hand-to-hand combats ensued. To shoot or to cut us down was the aim of every Federal as he neared us, but we did what we could to defend ourselves. Every one of my comrades was shot or cut down, and I alone escaped unhurt. `After having been borne along by the retreating enemy for perhaps a quarter of a mile, I leaped my horse over the fence into the field and so got away.

Now came the rush of the Confederate column, sweeping the road clear. At this point my regiment was relieved by the 1st Virginia, and Colonel Lee continued the pursuit. The Federals did not attempt to make a stand until they reached Old Church. Here their officers called a halt, and made an attempt to rally to defend their camp. Fitz Lee soon swept them out, and burned their camp. They made no other attempt to stand, and we heard no more of them as an organized body, but many prisoners were taken as me passed along. We had surprised them, taken them in detail, and far outnumbered them at all points. The Federal forces, as we afterward learned, were commanded by General Philip St. George Cooke, father-in-law to General Stuart, to whom the latter sent a polite message. The casualties in this skirmish were slight-one man killed on each side, and about fifteen or twenty wounded on the Confederate side, mostly saber-cuts.

We halted for a short time at Old Church, and the people of the neighborhood, hearing of our arrival, came out to greet us and wish us Godspeed. They did not come empty-handed, but brought whatever they could snatch up on the spur of the moment, rightly supposing that anything to allay hunger or thirst would be acceptable to us. Some of the ladies brought bouquets, and presented them to the officers as they marched along. One of these was given to General Stuart, who, always gallant, vowed to preserve it and take it into Richmond. He kept his promise.

We were soon far in rear of McClellan's army, which lay directly between us and Richmond. It was thought probable that the Federal cavalry was concentrating in our rear to cut off our retreat. We kept straight on, by Smith's store, through New Kent County to Tunstall's station, on the York River Railroad. I had been in charge of the Confederate advance-guard up to the time when Colonel Fitz Lee came to the front, with the 1st Virginia relieved the 9th of that duty. Well down in New Kent County, General Stuart sent for me again to the front. Hurrying on, I soon reached the head of the column where I found the general, and was directed by him to take thirty men as an advance-guard, and to precede the column by about half a mile. Further, I was directed to halt at the road running from the mills to the White House long enough to cut the telegraph wire on that road; thence to proceed to Tunstall's station on the York River Railroad, at which place, the prisoners had informed the general, a company of Federal infantry was posted. At Tunstall's station I was directed to charge the infantry, disperse or capture them, cut the telegraph, and obstruct the railroad.

Here was our point of danger. Once across the railroad, we were comparatively safe. But in possession of the railroad, with its rolling-stock, the enemy could easily throw troops along its line to any given point. However, no timely information had been furnished to the Federal general. We moved with such celerity that we carried with us the first news of our arrival. Pushing forward at a trot, and picking up straggling prisoners every few hundred yards, the advance-guard at length reached the telegraph road. At this point we overtook an ordnance wagon, heavily loaded with canteens and Colt's revolvers. The horses had stalled in a mud-hole, and the driver, cutting them out from the wagon, made his escape. The sergeant in charge stood his ground and was captured.

Here was a prize indeed, as in those days we ware poorly armed. In order to save time, a man furnished with an ax was sent to cut the telegraph wire, while the rest of the party was engaged in rifling the wagon. While these operations were in progress a body of Federal cavalry, suddenly turning a bend in the road, made their appearance. As soon as the Federal officer in command saw us he called a halt, and, standing still in the road, seemed at a loss to know what to do. His men drew their sabers, as if about to charge, but they did not come on. By this time the telegraph had been out and the wagon disposed of. Our men were hastily mounted and formed into column of fours, with drawn sabers, ready for any emergency. There we stood, eying each other, about two hundred yards apart, until the head of the main Confederate column came in sight. The Federals retreated down the road leading to the White. House. One man of the Federal party was sent back along the road to Tunstall's station, now only about half a mile off. I supposed, of course, that this messenger was sent to warn the Federal troops at Tunstall's of our approach. I was, however, afterward informed that he galloped through Tunstall's but never stopped, and when some one called to him, "What's to pay?" he dashed along, calling out, at the top of his voice, "Hell's to pay!"

[1] Stuart's raiders left camp ostensibly to go to Northern Virginia

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cavalry Tactics

General Orders, No. 26 Cavalry Tactics

Headquarters Cavalry Division
Army Northern Virginia
July 30th, 1863

The major-general commanding has endeavored in vain, by oral injunctions, to correct the defects in the mode of fighting pursued by this division, but they have been so steadily on the increase that he is compelled to make their correction the subject of General Orders.

In preparation for action, skirmishers should always be quickly deployed, either mounted or dismounted, according to the nature of the ground; the cavalry column formed into distinct squadrons and regiments, with distinct intervals, which are indispensable; those squadrons in rear of the one engaged taking special care that any confusion which may occur in front shall not extend to them, and, above all, not permitting any retreat of those engaged to break their front, but remain firm and unbroken until ordered into action.

If a squadron engaged becomes broken, and compelled by overwhelming force to retire, its members will take care not to run through the ranks of those in the rear, but will move to the nearest rallying point without confusion, or precipitancy, or noise.

The column in advancing to the charge will move steadily up at a walk, taking the trot when about 200 yards from the enemy, the trot being slow and steady in front, each squadron keeping its formation distinct and well closed. The charge will be delivered against the enemy by squadrons, the gallop being taken when within 50 yards of the enemy’s front, and the gait increased instead of diminished as the enemy is neared, so as to give the greatest possible force to the shock against the enemy’s column, the rider sitting firmly in saddle, with his saber wide awake for the thrust. Too much importance cannot be given to the shock of the charge, the furious impact of horse against horse, for in that will consist the success of the charge. The enemy once broken, must be followed vigorously, the officers taking care not to allow the pursuit to lag on account of the accumulation of prisoners and plunder. Plundering in battle is strictly prohibited. The prevalent, a habit counseled by fear, of charging as soon as within a quarter of a mile of the foe, up to the range of pistolshot, and there halting to deliver fire, is highly injudicious and entirely destructive of success. The pistol should never be used in a charge, excepting when the enemy is beyond an impassible barrier near at hand, or by a man unhorsed in combat, in which latter case especially it may be made a most effective weapon.

Whenever practicable, an attack should be made on either or both flanks simultaneously with the front attack, but the latter should not be too much weakened for this purpose. All troops are tender about their flanks; and oftentimes, when a real flank attack is impracticable, a mere feint or demonstration pushed boldly toward the flank and rear will strike dismay into the enemy’s ranks. An attack of cavalry should be sudden, bold, and vigorous; to falter is to fail. The cavalry which arrives noiselessly but steadily near the enemy, and then, with one loud yell, leaps upon him without a note of warning, and giving him no time to form or consider anything but the immediate means of flight, pushing him vigorously every step with all the confidence of victory achieved, is true cavalry; while a body of men equally brave and patriotic, who halt at every picket and reconnoiter until the precious surprise is over, is not cavalry.

While rashness is a crime, boldness is not incompatible with caution, nay, is often the quintessence of prudence.

The position which the cavalry officers generally take in battle is a subject requiring immediate correction. Though highly creditable to their gallantry, it is highly derogatory to their discretion, and at direct variance with their duty. The following will be hereafter adhered to strictly:

A brigade, regiment, or squadron advancing in line of battle, will have the commander in front sufficiently far to supervise and control its movements; but in columns of squadrons, platoons, fours, or twos, the brigade commander must be in a position sufficiently central to keep his brigade well in hand, and make communications to his colonels easy and intelligible.

The regimental commander will preserve such a location in his column as shall be sufficiently central to control and supervise its movements and check any wavering by prompt support; to order his squadron commanders successively to the charge, and superintend their rallying and return to action. These duties will absorb all his energies and time, and will require the active assistance of the lieutenant-colonel, major, and regimental staff.

The squadron commander will lead his squadron, keeping it together, preserving in his own person coolness and self-possession, but the quickness of an eagle. He will be assisted by the second captain and lieutenants, all striving by precept and example to insure success, remembering that in victory alone is safety and honor. The squadron commander who hesitates to lead his men whenever ordered by his colonel, is a disgrace to his commission; and men who fail or falter in a charge led by their squadron chief, will not be lost sight of in the annals of infamy and disgrace.

Should the charge be repulsed, the skirmishers on the flanks will, instead of retiring with the column, direct a concentrated fire on the advancing column of the enemy, endeavoring to hold it in check till fresh troops move up.

The ambulance corps alone will be allowed to remove the wounded, and all will bear in mind that our first duty to our wounded is to win the victory.

Should any check or confusion occur, the utmost silence will be observed in the ranks, in order that the commands of officers may be distinctly heard and quickly executed. The commands given will be few and to the point.

The major-general commanding appeals not only to the officers but to the men of his division to observe the rules he has laid down for their guidance.

That individuality of action which so strongly, characterizes the conduct of our troops in battle, if unguided or misdirected, can but produce confusion. But let the same idea control the mind of every man, let them apply these general principles to the incidents of battle as they arise, and success is certain.

By command of Major General J.E.B. Stuart:

H.B. McClellan
Major and
Assistant Adjutant-General

Monday, May 19, 2008

General Orders Seventeen

This story circulated among Stonewall Jackson’s men after his death: Two angels came to carry Stonewall back to Heaven with them. They searched all through his camp but couldn’t find him. They went to the prayer meeting, to the hospital, every place they thought he might be, all to no avail. They finally returned to Heaven to find Stonewall had executed a splendid flanking movement and gotten to Heaven before them.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Death of General J.E.B. Stuart

After concluding the series commemorating both Jackson and Stuart’s deaths, I came upon this eyewitness account from the Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, which is based on the Century war series published November 1884 to November 1887 in Century Magazine. This account was written by a private of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, CSA, and comes from Volume 4, page 194.

On the morning of the fight at Yellow Tavern, May 12th, 1864, I was acting as one of Stuart's couriers. At the beginning of it, I was stationed in front of the tavern, under one of a row of trees that lined the way close by. To my left, about four hundred yards off, the enemy could be easily seen emerging from a piece of woods and forming for battle. A short distance to my right, I saw an irregular line of Confederates. Pretty soon from the enemy came lively volleys whistling through the trees and starting the dust in the road.

In a few minutes, I saw two horsemen approach from the Confederate side. As they drew near I recognized General Stuart and Colonel Walter Hullihen. They halted near by in the road, and Stuart, taking out his field-glass, deliberately watched the maneuvers of the enemy, though balls were whizzing past him. Presently, regardless of the increasing fire, which was now accompanied with shouts, Stuart put his glass away, and taking out paper and pencil wrote an order. Handing it to Colonel Hullihen, he told him to take it to General Lomax. That officer replied by pointing to me and suggesting that I should carry it. Stuart assented, and I rode off in search of General Lomax.

The firing continued to increase, and many squadrons were in sight. The enemy, awake to their superior numbers, seemed about to make a general advance, while our men were availing themselves of the character of the ground to repel their attack. After going a few rods to the rear, my horse, excited by the firing, , suddenly stopped and refused to budge. After several vain attempts with the spur and the fiat side of my sword to start him, I at last struck him with all my strength right between the ears. This "downed" him, but he soon rose and ran off at the top of his speed. I soon came to where General Lomax was, and coming into collision with his horse gained his immediate attention. After reading the note he told me to go back and tell General Stuart that the order had been delivered. In a few moments I rejoined him sitting on his horse, close behind a line of dismounted men, who were firing at the advancing Federals. The disparity of numbers between the opposing forces was very great, to judge from appearances. Our men seemed aware of their inferior strength, but were not dismayed. The enemy confidently pressed forward with exultant shouts, delivering tremendous volleys. The Confederates returned their fire with yells of defiance.

Stuart, with pistol in hand, shot over the heads of the troops, while with words of cheer he encouraged them. He kept saying: “Steady, men, Steady. Give it to them." Presently, he reeled in his saddle. His head was bowed and his hat fell off. He turned and said as I drew nearer: “Go and tell General Lee and Dr. Fontaine to come here.”

I wheeled at once and went as fast as I could to do his bidding. Coming to the part of the line where General Lomax was, I told him Stuart was hurt and that he wanted General Fitz Lee. He pointed to the left and told me to hurry. Soon I found General Lee and delivered the message. He was riding a light gray, if I remember, and instantly upon receipt of the news went like an arrow down the line. When I returned, Stuart had been taken from his horse and was being carried by his men off the field. I saw him put in an ambulance and I followed it close behind. He lay without speaking as it went along, but kept shaking his head with an expression of the deepest disappointment.

He died the next day, May 12th.

Reprinted from the "Southern Bivouac" for September, 1884.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Letter Home by Jeb Stuart

I read this letter, written by Stuart during his West Point days, and laughed until tears came to my eyes. So I thought I would share it with all of you. To me this letter reveals much about Stuart's character, sense of humor, and his very charming ways. I hope you enjoy it also.

U.S. Military Academy
West Point, New York
December 23rd, 1853

Dear Pa,

I received your welcome letter today, and hasten to express my appreciation of your promptitude by an interesting account of a calamity that has recently befallen me. I am now in the hospital, the result of another black eye. As I have no desire to conceal anything from you even though it be disreputable to myself I will give you a full statement of the facts connected with the fight. I have often told you that I had no fears of difficulties resulting from private differences but that the prominence of my official position (Captain of a Company) would, in the numerous unpleasant duties incumbent upon me to perform as such, render me constantly liable to collisions and difficulties with my associates who may be of an uncompromising disposition and an inclination to demur at every act of a superior that does not conform to their gratification and ease however such act may accord with the duties enjoined upon the officer.

I have determined from the outset to do my duty to the letter, and such I have done, as has been more than once attested by the authorities. I have fully calculated upon the above difficulties, and have regarded them as some of the necessary misfortunes of my office, and whenever they arose I determined to “acquiesce in the necessity” which would lead to a personal encounter. Knowing the penalty of the offence I have consequently always regarded my stay here as precarious. But I am digressing.

The other evening at parade, it being unusually cold for dress parade, the Corps were evidently verging on insubordination. Of course this was none of my business, as my post was several paces in front of the line with my back to it except so far as I was the subject to the orders which the officer (Army) in charge might give in the case. In dismissing the parade, that officer gave orders to us cadet officers that in case of any “loud shouting” after dismissal from the ranks he would require us to report the offender. Accordingly due notice was given to the men that if they shouted they would be reported; notwithstanding this, there was shouting, and acting in obedience to the above order, I was standing outside the barracks looking on the only person whom I could identify in the act [which] was a strapping big Mississippian [Sanders], a private in my company, who just as he entered the door gave one tremendous yell.

Of course I reported him, for whenever I have received a positive order, however I may question its propriety, to report for any particular offense I have done it regardless of the consequences. When the report was published on the following evening, Sanders considered himself very much outraged; and though we had previously been good friends as far as I knew, I suppose he considered this sufficient ground to declare war. Accordingly after supper a classmate of his came to me and said he had been requested by Sanders to say in effect that I had on the previous evening treated him in a manner which required satisfaction and that it would gratify him if at any time I would repair with him to Kosciusko’s Garden (a romantic spot by the way, which I have often visited in a very different capacity). I told him I would do so as desired, and would send a friend to him next morning to appoint the time.

As soon as circumstances admitted I went to Rogers, acquainted him with the facts and desired him as my friend to see Sanders’ friend in the morning and tell him to meet us at the above place immediately after breakfast. All the preliminaries being arranged, the hour arrived and off we stalked towards the scene of action, Rogers and I leading the way and Sanders and his friend a few paces behind. We had no fears of being caught for it was a colder morning than you ever felt in Virginia and it was too early for officers to frequent such a secluded spot.

Arriving there we lost no time in getting to work. Being just about half his size and strength I calculated upon getting whipped and so determined to take it coolly. So great was our disparity in size that Rogers wanted me to insist upon taking a club, which I persisted in refusing. I told him it was a matter of little consequence whether I whipped or was whipped, and I would not have the appearance of seeking an advantage for the sake of a victory.

At first to my great surprise I was whipping him fast and the seconds say that as long as I had any strength left I had decidedly the best of the fight, but being a shorter, lighter man than Sanders he outwinded me and although I warded off nearly every blow at first my arms soon became perfectly powerless from exertion. Then he left me have a few left-handed licks (for he was a left-handed man), but he too was so much exhausted that he could not strike any longer. It was then proposed by him that we rest awhile, to which I assented. On coming to the contest again we were both pretty badly bruised—my eye had completely closed up and my arms were weak as water. Finding myself completely “hors de combat,” as “discretion is the better part of valor,” I acknowledged myself whipped. This ended the fight.

Upon Rogers’ suggestion I came immediately here, and reported to the surgeon, and have been ever since. The doctor laughed, and not long after Sanders came. He did not remain but was excused by the doctor from recitation. The affair will not reach the authorities through the surgeon for surgeons regard such things as professional secrets. My eye being so much more swollen than Sanders is accounted for from the fact that my flesh puffs up like a bladder from the slightest bruise which is not the case with his. As regards public opinion in the Corps it is said to be in my favor, but the majority condemn my consenting to fight him even-handed.

Thus you have a detailed account of the whole transaction which I hope will be the last of the kind. But I have not told you the best part of the joke. Tomorrow being Christmas Eve, Mrs. Lee [Mary Custis Lee] gives a large party to which I am invited but this black eye forces me to send a regret as a substitute. I assure you never to me was disappointment more bitter than the present, especially as “Christmas comes but once a year,” but such is the fortune of war, so I must content myself with a Christmas gift to Miss Mary Lee [Robert E. Lee’s oldest daughter].

I will not report to duty till next week for although I am in other respects perfectly well I consider it improper for me to be parading around with a bandaged eye for the remark and idle curiosity of all.

I received Cousin Fontaine’s letter which contained all the desired information. He reports rather unfavorably. Please present in my name my profound acknowledgement for the favor. Can Charles Lee be anything like his brother? Regards to Ed Parker and other friends. I sent you last Monday a speech of mine which I suppose ere this you have received. I consider the subject a difficult one and you will see from my manner of treating it that I was far from being its master. Please attend to the Visitorship. Though I doubt the expediency of John’s course in his circumstance, I think the business of farming suits him far better than medicine. Please write soon. Colonel Fontaine’s is the only letter I have received since my last letter. If you see Mr. Lee a short time previous to writing it will always be gratifying to his relatives here to hear from him through us.

I remain yours affectionately,
J.E.B. Stuart

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Death of Jeb Stuart

This narrative comes from Douglas Freeman Southall's volumes R.E. Lee.

In the midst of the battle, when the whole army had been wrestling with the blue thousands that had streamed over the parapets, a messenger had arrived with news of Stuart's movements to head off Sheridan's raid before it reached Richmond. Spurring their worn mounts, the anxious Southern troopers had intercepted the Federals at Yellow Tavern, seven miles north of Richmond and had given battle there. Stuart himself, as always, had been in the fullest of the fight, and, just as the Unionists had turned off to try to force a way into Richmond by some less-contested route, he had been shot through the body by a dismounted blue cavalryman. That had been on the afternoon of the 11th. The wounded Stuart had been borne into Richmond, and, when the dispatch was sent Lee, was believed to be dying.

Stuart dying! The "eyes of the army" about to be destroyed. It was the worst calamity that had befallen the South since that May day, just a year previously, when "Stonewall" had breathed his last. Lee was surrounded by a number of young officers when he finished reading the dispatch, and he had to steel himself as he announced the news. "General Stuart," he said, as he folded up the paper, "has been mortally wounded: a most valuable and able officer." He paused a moment and then he added in a shaken voice, "He never brought me a piece of false information." Later in the night, while the battle had still been frenzied, another message brought the dreaded word: With the cheerful composure that had marked all his acts, Stuart had died after 8 P.M.that evening. Lee put his hands over his face to conceal his emotion, as he heard that his great lieutenant was dead, dead in the crisis of his beloved army's life, dead at the age of thirty-one and before the fullness of his powers had been realized. As quickly as he could, Lee retired to his tent to master his grief, and when one of Stuart's staff officers entered, a little later, to tell him of Stuart's last minutes, Lee could only say, "I can scarcely think of him without weeping!" To Mrs. Lee he wrote, "A more zealous, ardent, brave and devoted soldier than Stuart the Confederacy cannot have."

Here is Lee’s announcement of Stuart’s death taken from the Official Records.

General Orders No. 44
Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia
May 20, 1864

The commanding general announces to be the army with heartfelt sorrow the death of Major General J.E.B. Stuart, late commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Among the gallant soldiers who have fallen in the war, General Stuart was second to none in valor,in zeal, and in unfaltering devotion to his country. His achievements form a conspicuous part of the history of this army, with which his name and serve will be forever associated. To military capacity of a higher order and all the nobler virtues of the soldier he added the brigher graces of a pure life, grounded and sustained bythe Christian’s faith and hope. The mysterious hand of an Allwise God has removed him from the scene of his usefulness and fame. His grateful countrymen will mourn his loss and cherish his memory. To his comrades in arms he has left the proud recollections of his deeds, and the inspiring influence of his example.

R.E. Lee

This concludes the series covering Jackson's and Stuart's woundings and deaths.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Death of Major General J.E.B. Stuart

The following is an account of Stuart’s death and funeral from the Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. VII. Richmond, Virginia, February, 1879. No. 2. There are some very flagrant errors within the text. I have left the text intact, but put the correct information in parenthesis.

The circumstances attending the wounding and death of the "Flower of Cavaliers" ought to be put in permanent form for the use of the future historian, for no history of the Army of Northern Virginia would be complete which did not give large space to the chivalric deeds of this great soldier.

Among our most precious memories of those stirring times are those which cluster around the person and character of Stuart. We remember him as he led an infantry charge on the outpost in the autumn of 1861-- as he appeared at his headquarters on his red blanket on Munson's hill, with a kindly word and a cordial grasp for even the private soldier -- as all through the campaigns which followed he appeared at the head of his column or in the heat of battle always gay, quick and daring -- and especially do we love to recall him amid the sweets of social intercourse or sitting a deeply interested listener in the meetings of our Chaplains' Association at Orange Courthouse. We were present when he took leave of his devoted wife at the opening of the campaign of 1864, saw him several times amid those bloody scenes in the Wilderness, and wept with the whole army when the sad news came that the great cavalryman had fallen -- that the "Chevalier Bayard" of the Confederacy had yielded up his noble life in defending our capital from imminent danger.

We would be glad to have from some competent hand a sketch of that last campaign of Stuart's, and a detailed account of the circumstances immediately connected with his fall. Meantime we give below the very interesting account of his last moments, which appeared at the time of his death in the Richmond Examiner:

No incident of mortality, since the fall of the great Jackson, has occasioned more painful regret than this. Major General J.E.B. Stuart, the model of Virginian cavaliers and dashing chieftain, whose name was a terror to the enemy, and familiar as a household word in two continents, is dead - - struck down by a bullet from the foe, and the whole Confederacy mourns him. He breathed out his gallant spirit resignedly, and in the full possession of all his remarkable faculties of mind and body, at twenty two minutes to eight o'clock Thursday night, at the residence of Dr. Brewer, a relative, (Dr. Brewer was his brother-in-law) on Grace street, in the presence of Drs. Brewer, Garnett, Gibson, and Fontaine, of the General's staff, Rev. Messrs. Peterkin and Keller and a circle of sorrow stricken comrades and friends. We learn from the physicians in attendance upon the General that his condition during the day was very changeable, with occasional delirium and other unmistakable symptoms of speedy dissolution. In the moments of delirium the General's mind wandered and, like the immortal Jackson (whose spirit, we trust, his has joined), in the lapse of reason his faculties were busied with the details of his command. He reviewed, in broken sentences, all his glorious campaigns around McClellan's rear on the Peninsula beyond the Potomac, and upon the Rapidan, quoting from his orders and issuing new ones to his couriers, with a last injunction to "make haste."

About noon, Thursday, President Davis visited his bedside, and spent some fifteen minutes in the dying chamber of his favorite chieftain. The President, taking his hand, said, "General, how do you feel?" He replied, "Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty." As evening approached the General's delirium increased, and his mind again wandered to the battlefields over which he had fought, then off to wife and children, and off again to the front. A telegraphic message had been sent for his wife, who was in the country, with the injunction to make all haste, as the General was dangerously wounded. Some thoughtless but unauthorized person, thinking probably to spare his wife pain, altered the dispatch to "slightly wounded," and it was thus she received it, and did not make that haste which she otherwise would have done to reach his side.

As the evening wore on, the paroxysms of pain increased, and mortification set in rapidly. Though suffering the greatest agony at times, the General was calm, and applied to the wound with his own hand the ice intended to relieve the pain. During the evening he asked Dr. Brewer how long he thought he could live, and whether it was possible for him to survive through the night. The Doctor, knowing he did not desire to be buoyed by false hopes, told him frankly that death, that last enemy, was rapidly approaching. The General nodded and said, "I am resigned if it be God's will; but I would like to see my wife. But God's will be done." Several times he roused up and asked if she had come.

To the Doctor, who sat holding his wrist and counting the fleeting, weakening pulse, he remarked, "Doctor, I suppose I am going fast now. It will soon be over. But God's will be done. I hope I have fulfilled my destiny to my country and my duty to God."

At half past seven o'clock it was evident to the physicians that death was setting its clammy seal upon the brave, open brow of the General, and told him so; asked if he had any last messages to give. The General, with a mind perfectly clear and possessed, then made dispositions of his staff and personal effects. To Mrs. General R.E. Lee he directed that his golden spurs be given as a dying memento of his love and esteem of her husband. (Correction: The spurs were sent to Mrs. Lilly Lee of Shepherdstown) To his staff officers he gave his horses. So particular was he in small things, even in the dying hour, that he emphatically exhibited and illustrated the ruling passion strong in death. To one of his staff, who was a heavy built man, he said, "You had better take the larger horse; he will carry you better." Other mementoes he disposed of in a similar manner. To his young son he left his glorious sword.

His worldly matters closed, the eternal interest of his soul engaged his mind. Turning to the Rev. Mr. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, and of which he was an exemplary member, he asked him to sing the hymn commencing --

"Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee,"

he joining in with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the ministers. To the Doctor he again said, "I am going fast now; I am resigned; God's will done."

Thus died General J.E.B. Stuart.

His wife reached the house of death and mourning about ten o'clock on Thursday night, one hour and a half after dissolution, and was of course plunged into the greatest grief by the announcement that death had intervened between the announcement of the wounding of the General and her arrival.

The funeral services, preliminary to the consignment to the grave of the remains of General Stuart, were conducted yesterday after noon in Saint James' Episcopal Church, corner of Marshall and Fifth streets -- Rev. Dr. Peterkin, rector. The cortege reached the church about five o'clock, without music or military escort, the Public Guard being absent on duty. The church was already crowded with citizens. The metallic case containing the corpse was borne into the church and up in the centre aisle to the altar the organ pealing a solemn funeral dirge and anthem by the choir.

Among the pall bearers we noticed Brigadier General John H. Winder, General George W. Randolph, General Joseph R. Anderson, Brigadier General Lawton and Commodore Forrest.

Among the congregation appeared President Davis, General Bragg, General Ransom, and other civic and military officials in Richmond. A portion of the funeral services according to the Episcopal church was read by Rev. Dr. Peterkin, assisted by other ministers, concluding with singing and prayer.

The body was then borne forth to the hearse in waiting, decorated with black plumes and drawn by four white horses. The organ pealed its slow, solemn music as the body was borne to the entrance, and whilst the cortege was forming -- the congregation standing by with heads uncovered. Several carriages in the line were occupied by the members of the deceased General's staff and relatives. From the church the cortege moved to Hollywood Cemetery, where the remains were deposited in a vault, the concluding portion of the affecting service read by Rev. Dr. Minnigerode, of Saint Paul's Church, and all that was mortal of the dead hero was shut in from the gaze of men.

Doctor Brewer, the brother in law of General Stuart, has furnished us with some particulars obtained from the General's own lips of the manner in which he came by his wound. He had formed a line of skirmishers near the Yellow Tavern, when, seeing a brigade preparing to charge on his left, General Stuart, with his staff and a few men, dashed down the line to form troops to repel the charge. About this time the Yankees came thundering down upon the General and his small escort. Twelve shots were fired at the General at short range, the Yankees evidently recognizing his well known person. The General wheeled upon them with the natural bravery which had always characterized him, and discharged six shots from his revolver at his assailants. The last of the twelve shots fired at him struck the General in the left side of the stomach. He did not fall, knowing he would be captured if he did, and nerving himself in his seat, wheeled his horse's head and rode for the protection of his lines. Before he reached them his wound overcame him, and he fell, or was helped from his saddle by one of his ever faithful troopers, and carried to a place of security. Subsequently, he was brought to Richmond in an ambulance. The immediate cause of death was mortification of the stomach, induced by the flow of blood from the kidneys and intestines into the cavity of the stomach.

General Stuart was about thirty five years of age. (Correction: He was thirty-one years old) He leaves a widow and two children. His oldest offspring, a sprightly boy, died a year ago while he was battling for his country on the Rappahannock. (Correction: It was his daughter, Flora, who had died in November, 1862) When telegraphed that his child was dying, he sent the reply, "I must leave my child in the hands of God; my country needs me here; I cannot come."

Thus has passed away, amid the exciting scenes of this revolution, one of the bravest and most dashing cavaliers that the "Old Dominion" has ever given birth to. Long will her sons recount the story of his achievements and mourn his untimely departure.

Lee's Reaction to the Death of Stonewall Jackson

The following narrative comes from Douglas Freeman Southall's R.E. Lee. Southall's volumes are invaluable to the Lee literature and, in fact, serves as the seminal and definitive work on Lee's life. I have a problem with the volumes though. Southall puts his opinion in Lee's voice, therefore making it appear as if Lee is voicing these concerns, ideas, etc. Unfortunately, these opinions have worked their way into the current Civil War historiography as Lee's opinion and, therefore, as fact. As discerning historians, scholars, or even enthusiasts, it is our responsibility to separate the author's opinion from fact.

"One of Jackson's chaplains, Reverend B. T. Lacy, came to headquarters during the morning of the 7th on his way to find Doctor S. B. Morrison, Early's chief surgeon, whom Doctor McGuire desired in consultation. Jackson was worse, Mr. Lacy said. He had done very well on the 6th except for slight nausea, but at dawn Doctor McGuire had found unmistakable symptoms of pneumonia. There was fear, for the first time, that his illness might be fatal. Lee would not admit the possibility of such an outcome. His own faith in God was so complete that he did not believe Heaven would deprive the South of a man whose services were essential to victory. He said to Lacy: "Give [Jackson] my affectionate regards, and tell him to make haste and get well, and come back to me as soon as he can. He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right."

What would become of the army if Jackson died? Where, among all his lieutenants, could Lee look for another man to execute with swift certainty the flank marches he so much employed in his strategy? Longstreet was a fine fighter, once the issue was drawn, but Longstreet was slow and contentious, always arguing for his own plan, even to the last minute, whereas Jackson, after advancing his own proposals, would execute Lee's orders as readily as if they were his own. In the Army of Northern Virginia, he had no peer. For him to die would be in very truth for Lee to lose his "right arm."

That evening Jackson was reported better. The pneumonia did not seem to be filling the lung. But the next morning, Friday, May 8, as Lee went about the routine duties of the day, gloom settled again. Jackson was weaker, the pneumonia was advancing, he was in mild delirium at intervals, babbling orders and, with his old concern for the welfare of his men, repeatedly calling, "Tell Major Hawks to send forward provisions for the troops." Despite these ominous symptoms, Lee would not give him up. Jackson could not die, he kept telling himself! He was unable to go to Jackson, both because he could not trust his emotions and because there was no one in whose hands he would feel safe in leaving the army. He had even been compelled to ask the President to come to headquarters for the discussion of important military questions, inasmuch as he felt that his own presence there was essential. There was one thing, only one, that he could do for Jackson. That was to pray for him. On Saturday night, as the doctors shook their heads and expressed the fear that the outlook was hopeless, Lee went down spiritually to the brook Jabbok and, like Jacob, wrestled with the angel. Never in his life had he prayed with so much agony of spirit. While the army slept and Jackson in his stupor fought his battles over, Lee on his knees implored Heaven to grant to his country the mercy of the deliverance of Jackson from death.

When the troops began to gather for worship during the forenoon of the next day — a beautiful Sabbath that the commanding general had recommended as a day of thanksgiving for the victory — Lee was still unconvinced that Jackson would be taken. Eagerly he met the chaplain who came from Guiney's at Jackson's request to preach at headquarters. The face of the clergyman told his story: The doctors ahead given Jackson up and did not believe he could survive, except by a miracle. He was in virtual coma, breathing very badly, and muttering still of his warring. "A. P. Hill," he was saying, "prepare for action." And again: "I must find out whether there is high ground between Chancellorsville and the river . . . push up the columns, hasten the columns. . . ." Even in the face of this, Lee refused to believe it could happen. "Surely, General Jackson must recover," he said, in a shaken voice. "God will not take him from us, now that we need him so much. Surely he will be spared to us, in answer to the many prayers which are offered for him!"

The minister preached to a large company of officers and to a multitude of men who had escaped the fangs of death in the Wilderness, but it is doubtful if Lee heard much that the earnest and eloquent Mr. Lacy had to say. His mind was at Guiney's, with Jackson, and so were his prayers. When the service was over, Lee spoke again to the chaplain: "When you return, I trust you will find him better. When a suitable occasion offers, give him my love, and tell him that I wrestled in prayer for him last night, as I never prayed, I believe, for myself." And he had to turn abruptly away to conceal his emotion."

But it was not to be so. At 3:15, on a beautiful spring day, Jackson’s delirium stopped. With a smile, he said, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” And then he closed his eyes, and died.

Friday, May 9, 2008

An Account of Jackson’s Death and Funeral – Part Two

The following narrative of Jackson’s death and funeral comes from the book Stonewall’s Man: Sandie Pendleton, written by W.G. Bean.

The final tribute paid to Jackson in Richmond occurred in the early morning of May 13. His body was again taken to the Governor’s Mansion for a brief service and then to a train which carried it by way of Gordonsville to Lynchburg. From here it was transported on the James River and Kanawha Canal to Lexington. The editor of the Daily Dispatch regretted that the remains of Jackson could not be interred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, “so near the theatre of his glory, where every breeze wafts his renown, and the murmuring waters, as they role solemnly by, seem to attune themselves to sweet, yet mournful melodies of the grave.” But Jackson had expressed a wish to be buried in Lexington where, as “an unknown, subordinate professor,” had been called “by Providence” to enact an important role in the affairs of mankind. The editor was prophetic in the statement that the fame of Jackson would be as enduring as the eternal mountains “at whose feet he was cradled.” Their long shadows, like those of “some majestic cathedral,” would consecrate his grave, and their loftiest pinnacles would be derive new sublimity from their association with the name of “JACKSON.”

The funeral train wended its way on May 13 from Richmond to Lynchburg amidst the homage of tearful people. In addition to the immediate family of General Jackson, the funeral party consisted of the servant Jim Lewis, Sandie Pendleton, James Power Smith, Hunter McGuire, Governor Letcher, and Confederate Senator G.A. Henry of Tennessee. Upon its arrival in Lynchburg at half past six in the afternoon, it was met by a delegation headed by Mayor W.B. Branch, R.H. Glass, Charles Dimmock, John S. Langhorne, John H. Flood, and W.M. Blackford. Minute guns were fired, and the church bells tolled their anguish. A procession was formed and marched through several streets to the wharf where the casket was placed on the packet boat, The Marshall, commanded by Captain J.B. Keffer. As the Lexington boat was very crowded, it was ten o’clock before the berths were hung.

The packet boat reached Lexington in the afternoon of May 14 (Thursday). General F.H. Smith came on board three miles from Lexington with his program for the ceremonies in Lexington. He had previously announced that the funeral would take place on Saturday, May 16, but yielded to Mrs. Jackson’s insistence that it be on May 15. A corps of cadets received the remains at the canal terminus, escorted it to the Institute, and placed it in the lecture room formerly used by Jackson. The next day, the body of Jackson was borne to its final resting place amidst the solemn pageantry of a military funeral – a novelty for the college community of Lexington.

On Friday morning at 10 o’clock, the funeral procession moved from the Institute to the Presbyterian Church. The escort was headed by Major Scott Schipp, commandant of the corps of cadets, former student of Jackson at the Institute, and an officer who had served in the Valley campaign of 1862. The military escort was composed of the cadets, a battery of First Manassas, a company of veterans of the Stonewall Brigade who happened to be in the county at that time and who bore the flag of the Liberty Hall Volunteers, a company of convalescent soldiers, a squadron of cavalry, and the clergy.

The casket which followed the escort was wrapped in the first Confederate flag ever made, which had been presented by President Davis to Mrs. Jackson. It was borne on a caisson of the cadet battery draped in black. Behind the caisson were the honorary pallbearers representing the Presbyterian Church of Lexington, the county magistrates, the Confederate district court, Washington College, the Virginia Military Institute, the Franklin Society, the town council, the Confederate Navy, and the Bible Society of Rockbridge County.

Then came in the following order: the family in a carriage followed on foot by Sandie Pendleton, Hunter McGuire, and J.P. Smith; Governor John Letcher, Senator Henry, and other representatives of the Confederate government; the faculty and officers of the Virginia Military Institute; the elders and deacons of the Presbyterian Church of Lexington; the professors and students of Washington College; members of the Franklin Society; and citizens of the community.

A simple service was conducted at the church by the pastor, the Reverend Dr. W.S. White, and other visiting ministers. The Reverend Dr. Ramsay of Lynchburg offered a prayer “of wonderful pathos.” The hymn “How Blest the Righteous, When He Dies” was sung and the Reverend Dr. White read the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians after which another prayer was said by the Reverend Mr. W.F. Junkin, brother of Jackson’s first wife. The remains were then carried to the cemetery and with military honors committed to the grave.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Account of Jackson’s Death and Funeral – Part One

The following narrative of Jackson’s death and funeral comes from the book Stonewall’s Man: Sandie Pendleton, written by W.G. Bean

The additional work which devolved upon Sandie during the week following the wounding of Jackson prevented him from visiting the wounded chieftain until Sunday, May 10, the day Jackson died. As Sandie entered the sick chamber, Jackson recognized him and asked, “Who is preaching today at headquarters?” Sandie replied the Dr. Lacy was, and Jackson expressed his pleasure at the news. When told by Sandie that the entire army was praying for his recovery, Jackson murmured, “Thank God, they are very kind.” Presently he added, “It’s the Lord’s Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always wanted to die on a Sunday.” So affected was Sandie by the scene that he went to the porch and wept. His intense feeling was revealed in a remark, the day after Jackson’s death, to Mrs. Jackson, “God knows I would have died for him.”

As his condition rapidly deteriorated, Jackson’s mind wandered back to the bloody night of May 2 on the Old Turnpike. In one of his early deliriums, he exclaimed, “I must find out if there is high ground between Chancellorsville and the river. Push up the columns! Hasten the columns! Pendleton, you take charge of that. Where’s Pendleton? Tell him to push up the column.”

The events of Sunday, May 10, were vividly recalled later by William Allan. “It was a beautiful day. We were terribly anxious. [Sandie] Pendleton rode down to see the General; the rest of us staid at Headquarters, where Dr. Lacy preached… The whole army was sad and anxious. The news brought to us during the forenoon was bad and I went to my tent after the preaching, feeling very gloomy. The afternoon was wearing on when Pendleton rode rapidly to my quarters and told me that the General had died an hour before.” Sandie dashing to the telegraph office at Hamilton’s Crossing and wired Governor John Letcher: “General Jackson died at fifteen minutes past 3 o’clock this afternoon. His remains will go to Richmond tomorrow.”

Sandie then return to Guiney Station to carry out the instructions of General Lee – who was doubtless aware of the close relationship existing between Jackson and Sandie – to take charge of the remains, to make all arrangements for the funeral, and to accompany the body to Lexington, where Jackson had expressed a desire during his last days to be buried.

The body, dressed by Sandie and J.P. Smith, was temporarily placed in a crude coffin constructed by the soldiers and moved to the front room of the Chandler office. It remained there until its departure for Richmond, where it was later embalmed in the reception room of the Governor’s Mansion and transferred to a metallic casket presented by the citizens of Fredericksburg.

The funeral cortege left Guiney Station on a special train on May 11 (Monday) and arrived in Richmond at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It addition to Mrs. Jackson and her infant, Mrs. Moses Hoge, and Mrs. Chandler, the remains were accompanied by Sandie Pendleton, Hunter McGuire, J.P. Smith, J.G. Morrison, and the Reverend Dr. B.T. Lacy – all members of Jackson’s staff. Captain Henry Kyd Douglas, formerly of the staff but now of the Second Virginia Regiment, Dr. W.H. Mayo of the governor’s staff and Dr. David Tucker of Richmond, who had been summoned to Guiney Station during the last days of Jackson’s illness, were also in the party. Throngs of people awaited the train as it passed the stations, and at Ashland the ladies placed wreathes and flowers on the casket.

All activities were suspended in Richmond at 12 o’clock, the announced hour of the arrival of the train. A tremendous concourse of citizens had assembled at the depot, but when it was announced that the train would not arrive until 4 o’clock, the crowd slowly dispersed and reassembled at that hour.

Upon reaching Richmond, the train stopped at the corner of Fourth and Broad Street in order to spare Mrs. Jackson the ordeal of facing the multitude of mourners. She was met by Mrs. Letcher and other ladies to Richmond and was taken in a carriage to the Governor’s Mansion. The casket was enveloped in a Confederate flag and covered with wreathes of evergreen and rare flowers. The hearse, flanked by Sandie Pendleton, Hunter McGuire, J.P. Smith, and Henry Kyd Douglas moved amidst the tolling bells down Broad Street to the corner of Ninth; turned toward Main Street, and was taken past the classic porch of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to the Governor’s Mansion in the Capitol Square. After its arrival there, Sandie and Douglas stood guard until darkness and the body remained in the Mansion during the night. The bells continued to toll until sundown, and thousands of people stayed in the Square until dark. Never before, the Richmond Daily Dispatch declared, had there been such an exhibition, “of heartfelt and general sorrow” in Richmond.

Tuesday, May 12, was a beautiful and warm day in Richmond. The military pageant was one never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Promptly at 10 o’clock in the morning, under the direction of George W. Randolph, master of ceremonies, the procession formed on the Capitol Grounds, stretching from the Governor’s Mansion to Grace Street. The band of the Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, hurriedly transported from Hamilton’s Crossing for the occasion, headed the procession. Then came the military escort followed by the hearse which was draped and drawn by four white horses appropriately caparisoned. Grouped around the hearse were the pallbearers: Sandie Pendleton, J.P. Smith, Hunter McGuire, Henry Kyd Douglas, and Generals James Longstreet, R.S. Ewell, J.H. Winder, Arnold Elzey, George E. Pickett, Richard Brooke Garnett, W.M. Kemper, M.D. Corse, and Commodore Bassett French. The carriages, conveying President Davis, who looked “think and frail in health,” and Jackson’s family, were next in line. Behind the carriage came on foot the various chiefs of department, state and Confederate, and distinguished citizens of the city. Little Sorrel, Jackson’s horse, was led by his servant, Jim Lewis.

An immense throng had gathered to move along with the procession. The flags were draped with crepe, and the swords of the military officials were draped at the hilt. The cannons of the artillery wore the sad insignia of mourning, the drums were muffled, and at a given hour a gun stationed beneath the Washington monument boomed the signal for the procession to move.

The bells pealed out their sorrow, and the melancholy dirge of the musicians of the band of the Thirtieth Virginia Infantry swelled forth in moving tones. The director of the band, A.J. Bowering, subsequently said that he had no instructions “as to what I should play but I had in mind that it must be something historical.” As he had only one copy of the “Dead March” from Saul with him upon leaving Hamilton’s Crossing, he transcribed and arranged, on the journey to Richmond, the music of this dirge for twenty different instruments. The band broke into the “Psalm of David” when George W. Randolph raised his sword for the procession to start. “I have played, [Bowering wrote] to men standing against the wall awaiting the command that would send them into eternity and in hospitals I have done my best to soothe the dying hours of the men of Virginias, but never was I so impressed. The tears rolled down the faces of my men and I knew that I was weeping.

“We played as we never played before and in that march around the city there was in line a musician, the brother of Adelina Patti. My soul, how he could play the E flat on a cornet! He played beside me in the parade.”

Emerging from the Capitol Square, the procession moved down Governor’s Street to Main, turned up Main to Second Street, through which it passed to Grace Street, and return to Capitol Square. The casket was borne by the generals of the army to the Senate chamber where, wrapped in the flag made immortal by Jackson, it lay in state until midnight.

The scene on Main Street, during the funeral procession beggared description, said the Richmond Daily Enquirer – “so impressive, so beautiful, so full of stirring associations, blending with the martial dirges of the bands, the gleam of muskets, rifles, and sabers drawn, the sheen of the cannon, the thousands of throbbing hearts, and the sorrow that mantled over all” J.B. Jones, the rebel diarist, recorded that the funeral was “very solemn and imposing because the mourning was sincere and heartfelt. There was no vain ostentation.”

The mixed scene of woe and honor in the Senate chamber was equally moving. As “shattered and emaciated veterans, noble-bowed matrons, and pale, delicate maidens gathered around that sacred bier, in the awed hush of a common sorrow, too deep for words.” T.C. DeLeon lamented, “tears rose from the hearts that had lost their dearest and nearest without a murmur, save – Thy will be done. And little children were lifted up to look upon what was left of him.” On another occasion, as the concourse of mourners passed by the bier, “an elderly and respectable-looking gentleman” addressed them in tones of confidence: Weep not; all is for the best. Though Jackson has been taken from the head of his corps, his spirit is now pleading our cause at the bar of God.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Henry McClellan's Account of Jeb Stuart's Wounding and Death

This account of the gallant and noble Stuart’s death comes from a letter Major Henry McClellan (Stuart’s adjutant) wrote to Flora Stuart after the general’s death. It was also printed in the Southern Historical Society Papers and in McClellan’s book on Stuart. The rest of the narrative comes from McClellan’s book.

“About four o’clock the enemy suddenly threw a brigade of cavalry, mounted upon our extreme left, attacking our whole line at the same time. As he always did, the general hastened to the point where the greatest danger threatened, -- and the point against which the enemy directed the mounted charge. My horse was so much exhausted by my severe ride of the morning that I could not keep pace with him, but Captain G.W. Dorsey, of company K, 1st Virginia Cavalry, gave me the particulars that follow.

The enemy’s charge captured our battery on the left of our line, and drove back almost the entire left. Where Captain Dorsey was stationed – immediately on the Telegraph Road – about eighty men had collected, his personal example held them steady while the enemy charged entirely past their position. With his men he fired into their flank and rear as they passed him, in advancing and retreating, for they were met by a mounted charge of the 1st Virginia Cavalry and driven back some distance. As they retired, one man who had been dismounted in the charge, and was running out on foot, turned as he passed the general, and discharging his pistol inflicted the fatal wound. When Captain Dorsey discovered that he was wounded he came at one to his assistance, and endeavored to lead him to the rear; but the general’s horse had become so restive and unmanageable that he insisted upon being taken down, and allowed to rest against a tree. When this was done Captain Dorsey sent for another horse. While waiting the general ordered him to leave him, and return to his men and drive back the enemy. He said he feared that he was mortally wounded, and could be of no more service. Captain Dorsey told him that he could not obey that order; that he would rather sacrifice his life than leave him until he had placed him out of all danger. The situation was an exposed one. Our men were sadly scattered, and there was hardly a handful of men between that little group and the advancing enemy. But the horse arrived in time; the general was lifted on to him, and was led by Captain Dorsey to a safer place. There, by the general’s order, he gave him into the charge of private Wheatly, of his company, and returned to rally his scattered men. Wheatly procured an ambulance, placed the general in it with the greatest of care, and supporting him in his arms, was driving toward the rear. I was hastening toward that part of the field where I had heard that he was wounded when I met the ambulance. The general had so often told me that if he were wounded I must not leave the field, but report to the officer next to him in rank, that I did not now presume to disregard his order, and the more so because I saw that Dr. Fontaine, Venable, Garnett, Hullihen, and several of his couriers were attending him. I remained with Fitz Lee until the next morning, when he sent me to the city to see General Bragg, and I thus had an opportunity to spend an hour with my general.”

As he was being driven back from the field he noticed the disorganized ranks of his retreating men, and called out to them: ----

“Go back! Go back! And do your duty, as I have done mine, and our country will be safe. Go back! Go back! I had rather die than be whipped.”

There were his last words on the battle-field, -- words not of idle egotism, but of soldierly entreaty. The shadow that for days had hung over his joyous, earnest life was deepening with the mist from out the dark valley, and ere the chill night closed in he would once again urge to effort, once again cheer to the charge, the comrades he had loved and led so well. But a few months later came the answering echo from the lips of his great commander, who would have gladly shared with him a soldier’s grave, “My men, I have done my best for you.”

While yet in the ambulance Dr. Fontaine and Lieutenant Hullihen turned the general over on his side, in order that an examination of the wound might be made While this was in progress he spoke to Hullihen, addressing him by the pet name which he usually employed: --

“Honey-bun, how do I look in the face?”

“General,” replied Hullihen, “you are looking right well. You will be all right.”

“Well,” said he, “I don’t know how this will turn out; but if it is God’s will that I shall die I am ready.”

In order to avoid the enemy, who how held full possession of the Brook turnpike, it was necessary for the ambulance to make a wide detour to reach Richmond, and it was some time after dark when the general arrived at the residence of his brother-in-law, Dr. Charles Brewer. The long ride gave him great suffering. On the morning of the 12th, after delivering General Fitz Lee’s message to General Bragg, I repaired to the bedside of my dying chief. He was calm and composed, in the full possession of his mind. Our conversation was, however, interrupted by paroxysms of suffering. He directed me to make the proper disposal of his official papers and to send his personal effects to his wife. He then said: ---

“I wish you to take one of my horses and Venable the other. Which is the heavier rider?”

I replied that I thought Venable was.

“Then,” said he, “let Venable have the gray horse, and you take the bay.”

Soon he spoke again:---

“You will find in my hat a small Confederate flag, which a lady of Columbia, South Carolina, sent me, with the request that I wear it upon my horse in a battle and return to her. Send it to her.”

I was at a loss how to interpret these instructions; for I had never seen any such decoration upon his hat. But upon examining it the flag was found within its lining, stained with the sweat of his brow; and among his papers I found the letter which had conveyed the request.

Again he said: “My spurs which I have always word in battle I promised to give to Mrs. Lilly Lee, of Shepherdstown, Virginia. My sword I leave to my son.”

While I sat by his side the sound of cannon outside the city was heard. He turned to me eagerly and inquired what it meant. I explained that Gracy’s brigade and other troops had moved out against the enemy’s rear on the Brook turnpike and that Fitz Lee would endeavor to oppose their advance at Meadow Bridge. He turned his eyes upward, and exclaimed earnestly, “God grant that they may be successful.” Then he turned his head aside, he said with a sigh, ---

“But I must be prepared for another world.”

The thought of duty was always uppermost in his mind; and after listening to the distant cannonading for a few moments, he said: “Major, Fitz Lee may need you.” I understood his meaning, and pressed his hand in a last farewell.

As I left his chamber President Davis entered. Taking the general’s hand, he asked: “General, how do you feel?”

He replied: “Easy, but willing to die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty.”

The Reverend Mr. Peterkin visited him, and prayed with him. He requested Mr. Peterkin to sing “Rock of Ages,” and joined in the singing of the hymn.

During the afternoon he asked Dr. Brewer whether it were not possible for him to survive the night. The doctor frankly told him that death was close at hand.

He the said: “I am resigned if it be God’s will; but I would like to see my wife. But God’s will be done.”

Again he said to Dr. Brewer: “I am going fast now; I am resigned. God’s will be done.”

And thus he passed away.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dr. Hunter McGuire's Account of Jackson's Wounding- Part Two

At this time the battle was raging fearfully, and the sound of the cannon and musketry could be distinctly heard at the hospital. The General’s attention was attracted to it from the first and when the noise was at its height, and indicated how fiercely the conflict was being carried on, he directed all his attendants, except Captain Smith, to return to the battlefield and attend to their different duties. By 8 o’clock Sunday night the pain in his side had disappeared, and in all respects he seemed to be doing well. He inquired minutely about the battle and the different troops engaged, and his face would light up with enthusiasm and interest when told how this brigade acted, or that officer displayed conspicuous courage, and his head gave the peculiar shake from side to side, and he uttered his usual, “Good, good,” with unwonted energy when the gallant behavior of the “Stonewall brigade” was alluded to. He said, “the men of the brigade will be someday proud to say to their children, I was one of the ‘Stonewall brigade.’” He disclaimed any right of his own to the name Stonewall. “It belongs to the brigade and not to me.” This night he slept well, and was free from pain.

A message was received from General Lee the next morning directing me to remove the General to Guinea’s station as soon as his condition would justify it, as there was some danger of capture by the Federals, who were threatening to cross at Ely’s Ford. In the meantime to protect the hospital, some troops were sent to this point. The General objected to being moved, if, in my opinion, it would do him any injury. He said he had no objection to staying in a tent, and would prefer it if his wife, when she came, could find lodging in a neighboring house, “and if the enemy does come,” he added, “I am not afraid of them; I have always been kind to their wounded, and I am sure they will be kind to me.” General Lee sent word again late that evening that he must be moved if possible, and preparations were made to leave the next morning. I was directed to accompany him and remain with him, and my duties with the corps as medical direction were turned over to the surgeon next in rank. General Jackson had previously declined to permit me to go with him to Guinea’s, because complaints had been so frequently made of general officers, when wounded, carrying off with them the surgeons belonging to their command. When informed of this order of the commanding general, he said, “General Lee has always been very kind to me, and I thank him.” Very early Tuesday morning he was placed in an ambulance and started for Guinea’s station, and at 8 o’clock that evening he arrived at the Chandler house, where he remained until he died. Captain Hotchkiss, with a party of engineers, was sent in front to clear the road of wood, stone, etc., and to order the wagons out of the track to let the ambulance pass.

The rough teamsters sometimes refused to move their loaded wagons out of the way for an ambulance until told that it was Jackson, and then, with all possible speed, they gave the way and stood with hats off and sweeping as he went by. At Spotsylvania Court House and along the whole route men and women rushed to the ambulance, bringing all the poor delicacies they had and with tearful eyes the blessed him and prayed for his recovery. He bore the journey well, and was cheerful throughout the day. He talked freely about the late battle, and among other things said that he had intended to endeavor to cut the Federals off from the United States ford, and taking a position between them and the river, oblige them to attack him, and he added, with a smile, “My men sometimes fail to drive the enemy from a position, but they always fail to drive us away.” He spoke of Rodes, and alluded in high terms to his magnificent behavior on the field Saturday evening. He hoped he would be promoted. He thought promotion for gallantry should be made at one, upon the field and not delayed. Made very early, or upon the field, they would be the greatest incentives to gallantry in others. He spoke of Colonel Willis (subsequently killed in battle),who commanded the skirmishers of Rodes’s division, and praised him very highly, and referred to the deaths of Paxton and Boswell very feelingly. He alluded to them as officers of great merit and promise. The day was quite warm, and at one time he suffered from slight nausea. At his suggestion, I placed over his stomach a wet towel; and he expressed great relief from it. After he arrived at Chandler’s house he ate some bread and tea with evident relish, and slept well throughout the entire night. Wednesday he thought to be doing remarkably well. He ate heartily for one in his condition, and was uniformly cheerful.

I found his wounds to be very well to-day. Union by the first intention had taken place to some extent in the stump, and the rest of the surface of the wound exposed was covered with healthy granulations. The wound in his hand gave him little pain, and the discharge was healthy. Simple line and water dressings were used, both for the stump and hand, and upon the palm of the latter a light, short splint was applied to assist in keeping at rest the fragments of the second and third metacarpal bones. He expressed great satisfaction when told that his wounds were healing and asked if I could tell from their appearance how long he would probably be kept from the field. Conversing with Captain Smith a few moments afterwards, he alluded to his injuries and said, “Many would regard them as a great misfortune. I regard them as one of the blessings of my life.” Captain Smith replied: “All things work together for good to those that love God.” “Yes,” he answered, “that’s it, that’s it.”

At my request Dr. Morrison came to-day and remained with him. About 1 o’clock Thursday morning, while I was asleep upon a lounge in his room, he directed his servant (Jim) to apply a wet towel to his stomach to relieve an attack of nausea, with which he was again troubled. The servant asked permission to first consult me, but the General knowing that I had slept none for nearly three nights, refused to allow the servant to disturb me, and demanded the towel. About daylight I was aroused, and found him suffering great pain. An examination disclosed pleuro-pneumonia of the right side. I believed, and the consulting physicians concurred in their opinion, that it was attributable to the fall from the litter the night he was wounded. The General himself referred to this accident. I think the disease came on too soon after the application of the wet cloths to admit the supposition, once believed, that it was induced by them. The nausea, for which the cloths were applied that night, may have been a result of inflammation already begun. Contusion of the lung, with extravasation of blood prevented any ill effects until reaction had been well established, and then inflammation ensured. Cups were applied and mercury, with antimony and opium administered.

Towards the evening he became better, and hopes were again entertained of his recovery. Mrs Jackson arrived to-day and nursed him faithfully to the end. She was a devoted wife and earnest Christian, and endeared us all by her great kindness and gentleness. The General’s joy at the presence of his wife and child was very great; and for him unusually demonstrative. Noting the sadness of his wife, he said to her tenderly: “I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, ‘Thy will be done.’”

Friday his wounds were again dressed and although the quantity of discharge from them had diminished, the process of healing was still going on. The pain in his side had disappeared, but he breath with difficulty, and complained of a feeling of great exhaustion. When Dr. Breckenridge (who, with Dr. Smith, had been sent for in consultation) said he hoped that the blister which had been applied would afford him great relief, he expressed his own confidence in it, and in his final recovery.

Dr. Tucker, from Richmond, arrived on Saturday, and all that human skill could devise was done to stay the hand of death. He suffered n pain today, and his breathing was less difficult, but he was evidently hourly growing weaker.

When his child was brought to him to-day he played with her for sometime, frequently caressing her and calling her his “little comforter.” At one time he raised his wounded hand above his head and closing his eye, was for some moments silently engaged in prayer. He said to me, “I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I think God, if it is His will, than I am ready to go.”

About daylight on Sunday morning Mrs. Jackson informed him that his recovered way very doubtful, and that it was better that he should be prepared for the worse. He was silent for a moment and then said: “It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven.” He advised his wife, in the event of his death, to return to her father’s house, and added: “You have a good and kind father, but there is no one so kind and good as your Heavenly Father.” He still expressed a hope of his recovery, but requested her, if he should die, to have him buried in Lexington, in the Valley of Virginia. His exhaustion increased so rapidly that at 11 o’clock Mrs. Jackson knelt by his bed and told him before the sun went down he would be with his Savior. He replied: “Oh, no, you are frightened, my child, death is not so near; I may yet get well.” She fell upon the bed weeping bitterly and told him again that the physicians said there was no hope. After a moment’s pause he asked her to call me. “Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her that I am to die to-day, is it so?” When he was answered, he turned his eyes toward the ceiling and gazed for a moment or two as if in intense thought, he replied, “Very good, very good, it is all right.” He then tried to comfort his almost broken-hearted wife, and told her that he had a great deal to say to her, but he was too weak.

Colonel Pendleton came into the room about 1 o’clock, and he asked him, “Who was preaching at headquarters today?” When told that the whole army was praying for him, he replied, “Thank God, they are very kind.” He said: “It is the Lord’s Day, my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday.”

His mind now began to fail and wander, and he frequently talked as if in command upon the field, giving orders in his own way; then the scene shifted and he was at the mess-table, in conversation with members of his staff; now with his wife and child; now at prayers with his military family. Occasional intervals of return of his mind would appear, and during one of them I offered him some brandy and water, but he declined it, saying, “It will only delay my departure, and do no good; I want to preserve my mind if possible, to the last.” About half-past one he was told that he had but two hours to live, and he answered again, feebly, but firmly, “Very good, it is alright.”

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 Hawkes,” then he stopped leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he cried quietly and with an expression of relief. “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shades of the tree.” And without pain or the least struggle, his spirit passed from earth to the God who gave it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dr. Hunter McGuire's Account of Jackson's Wounding - Part One

The following article is from the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XIV, January 1886.

The Death of Stonewall Jackson

By Doctor Hunter McGuire, Medical Director of Jackson's Corps

Supported upon either side by his aides -- Captain James Power Smith and Joseph Morrison -- the General moved slowly and painfully towards the rear. Occasionally resting for a moment to shake off the exhaustion which pain and the loss of blood produced, he at last reached the line of battle, where most of the men were lying down to escape the shell and canister with which the Federals raked the road. General Pender rode up here to the little party and asked who was wounded and Captain Smith, who had been instructed by General Jackson to tell no one of his injury, simply answered, "A Confederate officer;" but Pender recognized the General, and, springing from his horse, hurriedly expressed his regret, and added that his lines were so broken he feared it would be necessary to fall back. At this moment the scene was a fearful one. The air seemed to be alive with the shrieks of shells and the whistling of bullets; horses, riderless and mad with fright, dashed in every direction; hundreds left the ranks and fled to the rear, and the groans of the wounded and dying mingled with the shouts of others being led again to the assault. Almost fainting as he was, from loss of blood, fearfully wounded, and as he thought, dying, Jackson was undismayed by this terrible scene. The words of Pender seemed to rouse him to life. Pushing aside the men who supported him, he stretched himself to his full height and answered feebly, but distinctly enough to be heard above the din of battle: "General Pender, you must hold on to the field; you must hold out to the last."

It was Jackson's last order upon the field of battle. Still more exhausted by his effort, he asked to be permitted to lie down for a few minutes, but the danger from the fire, and capture by the Federal advance, was too imminent, and his aides hurried him on. A litter having been obtained, he was placed upon it, and the bearers passed on as rapidly as the thick woods and rough ground permitted. Unfortunately, another one of the bearers was struck down, and the litter having been supported at each of the four corners by a man, fell and threw the General to the ground. The fall was a serious one, and as he touched the earth, he gave, for the first time, expression to his suffering, and groaned piteously.

Captain Smith sprang to his side, and as he raised his head, a bright beam of moonlight made its way through the thick foliage and rested upon the pale face of the sufferer. The captain was startled by its great pallor and stillness, and cried out: "Oh! General, are you seriously hurt?" "No," he answered, "don't trouble yourself, my friend, about me;" and presently added something about winning the battle first and attending to the wounded afterwards. He was placed upon the litter again, and carried a few hundred yards, when I met him with the ambulance. I knelt down by him and said, "I hope you are not badly hurt, General?" He replied very calmly but feebly, "I am badly injured, Doctor; I fear I am dying." After a paused he continued, "I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding." His clothes were saturated with blood, and hemorrhage was still going on from the wound. Compression to the artery with the finger arrested it until, light being procured from the ambulance, the handkerchief, which had slipped a little, was readjusted.

His calmness amid the dangers which surrounded him and at the supposed presence of death, and his uniform politeness, which did not forsake him, even under these, the most trying circumstances, were remarkable. His complete control, too, over his mind enfeebled as it was by loss of blood, pain &c., was wonderful. His suffering as this time was intense; his hands were cold, his skin clammy, his face pale, and his lips compressed and bloodless; not a groan escaped him -- not a sign of suffering except the slight corrugation of his brow; the fixed rigid face, and the thin lips too tightly compressed that the impression of the teeth could be seen through them. Except these, he controlled by his iron will all evidence of emotion, and more difficult than this even, he controlled that disposition to restlessness, which many of us have observed upon the field of battle, attending great loss of blood. Some whiskey and morphine were procured from Dr. Straith and administered to him, and placing him in the ambulance it was started for the corps field infirmary at Wilderness Tavern. Colonel Crutchfield, his chief of artillery, was also in the ambulance wagon. He had been wounded very seriously in the leg, and was suffering intensely.

The General expressed, very feelingly his sympathy for Crutchfield, and once, when the latter groaned aloud, he directed the ambulance to stop, and requested me to see if something could not be done for his relief. Torches had been provided, and every means to carry them to the hospital as safely and easily as possible. I sat in the front part of the ambulance, with my finger resting upon the artery above the wound, to arrest bleeding if it should occur. When I was recognized by acquaintances and asked who was wounded, the General would tell me to say, "A Confederate officer." At one time he put his right hand upon my head, and pulling me down to him, asked if Crutchfield was dangerously injured. When answered, "No, only painfully hurt," he replied. "I am glad it is no worse." In a few moments after Crutchfield did the same thing, and when he was told that the General was seriously wounded, he groaned and cried out, "Oh, my God!" It was for this that the General directed the ambulance to be halted, and requested that something should be done for Crutchfield's relief.

After reaching the hospital he was placed in a bed, covered with blankets, and another drink of whiskey and water given to him. Two hours and a half elapsed before sufficient reaction took place to warrant an examination. At 2 o'clock, Sunday morning, Surgeons Black, Walls, and Coleman being present, I informed him that chloroform would be given him, and his wounds examined. I told him that amputation would probably be required, and asked it was found necessary whether it should be done at once. He replied promptly, "Yes, certainly. Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best." Chloroform was then administered, and as he began to feel its effects, and its relief to the pain he was suffering, he exclaimed: "What an infinite blessing," and continued to repeat the word "blessing," until he became insensible. The round ball (such as is used for the smooth-bore Springfield musket), which had lodged under the skin upon the back of his right hand, was extracted first. It had entered the palm about the middle of the hand, and had fractured two of the bones. 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. There were two wounds in his arm. The first and most serious was about three inches below the shoulder-joint, the ball dividing the main artery and fracturing the bone. The second was several inches in length, a ball having entered the outside of the forearm, an inch below the elbow, came out upon the opposite side just above the wrist. Throughout the whole of the operation, and until all the dressings were applied, he continued insensible. Two or three slight wounds of the skin of his face, received from the branches of trees when his horse dashed through the woods, were dressed simply with isinglass plaster.

About half-past 3 o'clock, Colonel (then Major) Pendleton, the assistant adjutant-general, arrived at the hospital and asked to see the General. He stated that General Hill had been wounded, and that the troops were in great disorder. General Stuart was in command, and had sent him to see the General. At first I declined to permit an interview, but the colonel urged the safety of the army and success of the cause depended upon his seeing him. When he entered the tent, the General said: "Well, major, I am glad to see you. I thought you were killed." Pendleton briefly explained the condition of affairs, gave Stuart's message, and asked what should be done. General Jackson at once was interested, and asked in his quick, rapid way several questions. When they were answered, he remained silent for a moment, evidently trying to think; he contracted his brow, set his mouth, and for some moments was obviously endeavoring to concentrate his thoughts. For a moment it was believed he had succeeded, for his nostrils dilated, and his eye flashed its old fire, but it was only for a moment; his face relaxed again, and presently he answered very feebly and sadly, "I don't know. I can't tell, say to General Stuart he must do what he thinks best." Soon after this he slept hours and seemed to be doing well. The next morning he was free from pain, and expressed himself sanguine of recovery. He sent his aide-de-camp, Morrison, to inform his wife of his injuries, and to bring her at once to see him. The following note from General Lee was read to him that morning by Captain Smith. "I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at that occurence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory, which is due to your skill and energy." He replied: "General Lee should give praise to God."

About 10 o'clock his right side began to pain him so much that he asked me to examine it. He said he had injured it in falling from the litter the night before, and believed that he had struck it against a stone or the stump of a sapling. No evidence of injury could be discovered by examination. The skin was not broken or bruised, and the long performed, as far as I could tell, its proper function. Some simple application was recommended, in the belief that the pain would soon disappear.