Civil War 150: The Death of Stonewall Jackson

Thomas J. Jackson [Stonewall Jackson]. From The New York Public Library Digital Collections: http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-0ab5-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.

With the arrival of the spring heat, the battles between North and South began again. The Battle of Chancellorsville raged in Virginia May 2 through 6, 1863. Union General Joseph Hooker failed and gave a decisive victory to the Confederates. However, the victory was not a cheerful one for the South. On the night of May 2, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and his men, returning from an attack, were fired on by their own Confederate brethren who thought Jackson’s group was Union soldiers. Jackson was hit by two bullets in his left arm, which was then amputated. Eight days later Jackson died of complications from pneumonia.

Revered like General Lee, Jackson had been a rallying force during many major battles; especially the First Battle of Bull Run, where he and his Stonewall Brigade earned him his nickname, Stonewall Jackson. His death brought deep sadness to the South and created a loss in the Confederate ranks that would never truly be filled.

Stonewall Jackson image. Library of Congress: LC-DIG-cwpb-07475

Stonewall Jackson’s presence radiated Southern heroism and commitment, and though he was just one man, his loss weighed heavily on Confederate morale. That he was killed in friendly fire instead of by the hands of the North made his death that much worse. His death was a turning point in the war. In just a few months the Union began to win integral battles, which might not have happened had Jackson been on the frontlines.

As Jackson attempted to recover from his amputation, General Lee sent correspondence stating that Stonewall “has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” That sentiment held great truth, as the death of Jackson brought the end of one of the greatest generals and tacticians to live during the Civil War.

Thomas Jonathan Stonewall Jackson CSA. Image courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-cwpb-07475

Connie Golding earned a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Fine Arts from The George Washington University.