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.