Site Map
Photos of Winnie

Tom and I just got home from our daughter's nurse's pinning and graduation ceremony. What a day. Needless to say we are very proud and I would just like to wish all you nurses on the list a belated happy nurses week.

Three years ago, Tom and I were returning from Williamsburg and stopped at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine www.nps.gov/frsp/js.htm at Guinea Station, VA. Ten days ago was the 138thanniversary of his death on 10 May 1863. I thought it would be fitting to repeat the tidbit I wrote that night.

Thomas J. Jackson was born in western Virginia (which later became West Virginia) in 1824 to a debt-ridden lawyer who died of typhoid when Thomas was two years old. He went to live with an uncle when his mother died five years later. He entered West Point in 1842 even though he only had what was equivalent to a fourth-grade level education and steadily rose in the class rankings to graduate in 1846, seventeenth in a class of fifty-nine.

After graduation, he served in an artillery unit in Mexico and was promoted to lieutenant after displaying bravery during the siege of Vera Cruz. When he left the army in 1851 he joined the faculty at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and taught philosophy and artillery tactics. His students nicknamed him "Tom Fool" because of eccentricities such as standing while he prepared his lessons as well as when he ate. He felt that standing and sitting erectly kept his internal organs aligned. He wouldn't eat pepper because he thought it made his left leg hurt.

He was a calm person and brilliant on the battlefield. He didn't smoke, drink, curse, dance or attend the theater. Instead while in camp he would stroll around and pass out Sunday school leaflets and refused to send a letter that would be in transit on Sunday.

It was at the Battle of 1st Manassas in July, 1861 that he earned the nickname "Stonewall". During an attempt to rally Southern troops CSA Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee saw an arriving Confederate brigade led by Gen. Jackson. Gen. Bee pointed to Jackson and yelled "There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians" and so Gen. Jackson became "Stonewall" Jackson and the 1st Virginia Brigade became the "Stonewall Brigade". It was this same Brigade that gave the Union soldiers their first experience with the blood-curdling "Rebel Yell" when Jackson ordered his men to "Charge, men and yell like the furies."

Gen. R.E. Lee relied on Jackson a great deal, so much so that Jackson was present at many of the major battles, including: First Manassas (First Bull Run); the Shenandoah Valley campaign; the Seven Days' battles; Second Manassas (Second Bull Run); the Maryland campaign, which included Harper's Ferry and Antietam; Fredericksburg; and finally at Chancellorsville.

It was here at the Battle of Chancellorsville that tragedy struck. On the night of May 2, 1863, Stonewall Jackson was mistakenly shot by his own men. Although he wasn't mortally wounded his left arm was amputated. Gen. Lee remarked "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm." and moved Jackson well behind the lines to Guinea Station to recuperate. It was thought that there would be no complications but pneumonia set in and doctors summoned Jackson's wife. This was in stark contrast to the meeting between the two barely a week before. It was at this happy meeting that Stonewall saw his infant daughter for the first time; and now Mrs. Jackson was rushed to the bedside of her dying husband.

Through it all Stonewall remained in good spirits but the doctors could do nothing to relieve him. Jackson observed, "I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go." On Sunday, May 10, 1863, all hope was lost and Jackson was notified of his condition. Although physically weaker, he was still spiritually strong. He said, "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday." It was at 3:15 on that day that he did just that.

Dr. McGuire, the primary attending physician, gave the following description of Stonewall's last moments:

"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 Hawks'--then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he said quietly, and with an expression, as if of relief, 'Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.'"

Accessed 7 October 2005, available from www.nps.gov/frsp/js.htm: Internet

Accessed 7 October 2005, available from www.vmi.edu/archives/Jackson/tjjart1.html: Internet

Accessed 7 October 2005, available from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Jackson: Internet

© 2006 Winifred Ledoux