"Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."
last word of General Jackson
For anyone curious to learn more about the Civil War in laymen's language I recommend the Disunion blog on the New York Times Opinionator page.
This is Ben Cleary's post on the Death of Jackson
The Death of Jackson
It was around 9 p.m. on May 2, 1863, during what would later be known as the Battle of Chancellorsville in central Virginia. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, with a few aides, was in front of Confederate lines scouting the federal position. The day had been a horrible one; Jackson, a senior general under Robert E. Lee, had attacked the Union’s right flank, demolishing the XI Corps. But the Union troops regrouped and counterattacked, and night fell on a confusing, bloody scene. Thousands were dead; thousands more would die in the coming days.
Jackson had decided to venture forth to see the damage and plan for the next day. Suddenly there was a shot; then a volley. They came from the 18th North Carolina Regiment, who mistook the general and his party for Union cavalry.
Jackson’s horse bolted, charging into the trees. He checked him with difficulty. “Cease firing!” yelled Lt. Joseph G. Morrison, Jackson’s brother-in-law and a member of his entourage. “You are firing into your own men.”
But the chaos continued. “Who gave that order?” replied Major John D. Barry of the 18th. “It’s a lie! Pour it into them, boys!” The North Carolinians obeyed with another volley.
Jackson was hit three times. His horse bolted again. This time it could be stopped only by two of his aides.
When the firing stopped, Jackson’s men gathered around him. It took a few minutes for them to realize that their general, a living god who ranked just below Robert E. Lee in the Confederate pantheon, had been seriously wounded. “How do you feel, General?” asked Capt. R.E. Wilbourn after he halted Jackson’s horse. “Can you move your fingers?”
Jackson could not. His arm was broken. A musket ball had broken two bones in his right hand; a second bullet hit the left forearm. The third wound was the most dire: the bullet struck him about three inches below the left shoulder, severing the artery and breaking the bone. Jackson, nearly fainting, was helped from his horse. His aides supported him as he staggered into the woods to lie down. They gave him a little whiskey, which the teetotaling general resisted before drinking. Then they applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
A federal attack seemed imminent. The general had to be moved. The officers tried to walk him back to Confederate lines, but it became obvious that he was too weak. They placed him on a stretcher, just as Union artillery opened fire. Canister and grapeshot ripped through the woods and struck sparks on the road. One of the stretcher-bearers fell, wounded in both arms. An officer caught the handle of the stretcher just in time; Jackson did not fall.
The firing continued. The soldiers lay around Jackson, shielding him with their bodies. Shortly thereafter, still under fire, they again tried to help the wounded general walk. Again he was too weak. They returned him to the litter. They had not gone far before one of the bearers tripped. This time Jackson fell. He groaned in pain.
Finally the party found a horse-drawn ambulance. Morrison got in to hold the general’s wounded arm. At Chancellor’s, the house from which the battle took its name, the men were joined by Jackson’s friend and medical director for his unit, Dr. Hunter McGuire. “I am badly injured, Doctor; I fear I am dying,” Jackson told him. “I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding.”
The situation was grave. “I found his clothes still saturated with blood,” wrote McGuire, “and blood still oozing from the wound.” McGuire put his finger on the artery. “Then I readjusted the handkerchief which had been used as a tourniquet, but which had slipped a little.” If he hadn’t done so, McGuire said, “he would probably have died in 10 minutes.”
Jackson was in tremendous pain, but controlled it, wrote McGuire, “by his iron will.” Still, the doctor noted that his lips “were so tightly compressed that the impression of his teeth could be seen through them.”
McGuire administered whiskey and morphine, and rode with Jackson in the ambulance to a field hospital some four miles away. There, Jackson was stabilized in a hospital tent. A team of doctors assembled. Chloroform would be administered, McGuire told Jackson around 2 a.m. His wounds would be examined. Amputation was probable. Did the general consent?
“Yes, certainly, Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best.”
The anesthetic took effect. “What an infinite blessing!” said Jackson. He repeated the last word “Blessing … blessing …” as he drifted off. The musket ball was removed from his right hand; then his left arm was amputated.
Afterward, Jackson seemed to be doing well. He ate and drank and talked to visitors about military matters and theology. He also sent Morrison to Richmond to bring Anna — Jackson’s wife and Morrison’s sister — to be with him as he convalesced. One puzzling and disturbing episode: a pain in his side. Jackson told McGuire he had injured it during his fall from the litter the night before. McGuire examined him and found nothing.
Meanwhile, the Battle of Chancellorsville continued; May 3 was the second-bloodiest day of the war. Robert E. Lee feared the hospital would be overrun. He sent word for Jackson to be moved, suggesting Guinea Station, some 27 miles east and south on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. From there, Jackson could easily be evacuated further south if necessary.
The move was accomplished Monday, May 4. “The rough teamsters sometimes refused to move their loaded wagons out of the way for an ambulance until told that it contained Jackson,” McGuire wrote, “and then, with all possible speed, they gave the way and stood with hats off and weeping as he went by.” The country people brought such gifts of food as were to be had from their meager stores “and with tearful eyes they blessed him and prayed for his recovery.”
At Guinea Station Jackson seemed to be recovering. He settled into the plantation office of “Fairfield,” the home of the plantation owner Thomas Chandler, and slept well the first night. McGuire was optimistic. He was also vigilant, strictly limiting the number of visitors and watching through the night while Jackson slept.
Jackson’s chaplain, the Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy, arrived the next day. He held a bedside prayer service, which deeply gratified the profoundly religious Jackson. Lacy later took Jackson’s amputated arm to Ellwood, his brother’s nearby home, and buried it in the family cemetery, and returned the next morning for another prayer service. That evening, thinking that Jackson’s recovery was underway, McGuire allowed himself to sleep on the couch in the sickroom.
Jackson awoke with nausea around 1 a.m. He directed his body servant, Jim Lewis, to wet a towel with cold water and place it on the painful area on his side. Lewis wanted to wake McGuire. Jackson refused, knowing how much sleep the doctor had lost the last few nights. The hydrotherapy continued until dawn, with Jackson’s pain increasing. When McGuire awoke and examined his patient, he diagnosed pneumonia, certainly resulting from his fall from the litter the night he was wounded.
Mrs. Jackson arrived with their infant daughter as the crisis was unfolding. She seemed to sense the prognosis immediately.
More doctors arrived. There were consultations, prayers and hymns. Jackson sank into delirium, talking as though he were still commanding his troops. Then he would rally, talking to his wife and playing with his daughter. “Little comforter,” he called her, still insisting to those around him that he would recover. He was relieved to learn that Lee had won the field at Chancellorsville, though at an almost incomprehensible cost of 13,000 casualties, against the Union’s 17,000.
But Jackson continued to decline, and by Sunday, May 10, McGuire was certain that he would not last the day. Mrs. Jackson went into him and, weeping, broke the news. Jackson sent for McGuire. “Doctor,” he said, “Anna informs me that you have told her I am to die today; is it so?”
McGuire answered in the affirmative.
“Very good, very good,” said Jackson. “It is all right.”
He tried to comfort his wife. After he died, he said, she should return to live with her father, who was “kind and good.” They discussed his wish to be buried in Lexington, Va., near where they had lived when he taught at the Virginia Military Institute.
There was a farewell visit with his daughter. “Little darling,” he called her. “Sweet one.”
Before sinking into a final delirium, he took note of the time. “It is the Lord’s Day,” he said. “I have always desired to die on Sunday.” He then began talking as though he was still on the battlefield: “Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front!”
Jackson died at 3:15 p.m. His final words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”