The mighty Confederate Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was fearless in battle so much so that his men gave him the title “Stonewall,” owing to his tendency to remain steadfast in the face of danger. The beloved general became a symbolic character in the determination and resolution of the South. However, even a “stone wall” crumbles…
On this day in 1863, the steadfast leader succumbed to a painful yet heroic end. Under the skillful direction of General Robert E. Lee, Stonewall’s masterful plan at the Battle of Chancellorsville to divide the Confederate army was indeed risky; nevertheless, the audacious move secured a major victory for the Confederates. It unfortunately, also resulted in the tragic loss of Lee’s most trusted field commander, none other than the brilliant military mind who devised the plan, General Stonewall Jackson.
A few days prior, the Union army marched towards Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near Chancellorsville.
Vastly outnumbering the confederate army, Union Army Major General Joseph Hooker was confident in his ability to defeat the rebels. Half his troops were to approach Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army from the rear, while the rest were to engage in battle from the front.
Considering all circumstances were in his favor, Hooker was ultimately surprised when Lee decided to do the same. Lee, however, anticipated the Union general’s moves two steps ahead and divided his army into thirds to surprise the Union army. Had he been more timid in his approach, Lee’s risky maneuver could have ended in defeat. Fortunately for Lee, Hooker had been overly confident as expected and did not anticipate the surpsie attack.
The Battle of Chancellorsville was an important victory for the Confederate army. It was not without significant loss, however.
As the darkness crept over the war-torn fields, General Jackson returned towards camp, but was mistakingly thought to be Union officer by his own men. Frantically, Jackson shouted his identity, but the assaulting parties believed his cries to be a Union trick. Amid the ensuing dim light and shuffle, Jackson was shot three times. Afterwards, Jackson received medical care, but it was too late; his left arm had to be amputated.
Upon hearing of Jackson’s fate, Robert E. Lee respectfully sent word to his friend and fellow comrade by saying, “[you] have lost [your] left arm, but I my right.”
Sadly, Jackson passed away 10 days later from complications. Lee’s loss of his right hand man crippled in the Confederate campaign severely. The Stonewall had crumbled, yet his legacy was remembered beyond his time on this earth.