150 years ago today, the body of General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson lay in state in the capitol of the Confederate States of America in Richmond, Virginia. Ten days earlier he had been mistakenly wounded by his own troops during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Struck once in the right hand and twice in the left arm, he was removed from the field and his left arm successfully amputated. He soon developed a case of pneumonia, though, and passed away from that on May 10, 1863.
His reported final words are the title to this post.
The Richmond Dispatch described the arrival of his body in Richmond the next day:
The train was stopped at the corner of 4th and Broad streets, and after a short delay the coffin containing the body was removed to the hearse in attendance. It was enveloped in the flag of the Confederacy. On the flag was placed wreaths of evergreen and rare flowers. A few minutes before 5 o’clock Gen. Elzey gave the command, and the procession started, marching in the following order:
Gen. Elzey and Staff, mounted; the Public Guard, Lieut. Gay, commanding; the 44th N. C. Regiment, Pettigrew’s brigade, Col. Singletary commanding; the Armory Band, playing a funeral dirge; Col. Frank Skinner, 1st Va. regiment, and some of the Governor’s Aids; the hearse containing the body, surmounted by raven plumes, and drawn by two white horses; the Staff of Gen. Jackson, including Major Pendleton, Adjutant General; Major W. I. Hawks, Chief Commissary of the Corps; Major D. B. Bridgford, Chief Provost; Capt. Douglas, Lieut. Smith, Aide-de-Camp; Dr. McGuire, Surgeon, and others; the members of the City Council, two abreast, and lastly, an immense host of citizens and strangers.
The procession thus formed, (the military with reversed arms,) marched slowly to the corner of 9th street, and turned towards Main, entering the Capitol Square by the gate on Grace street. The military having formed a line extending across the Square past Washington ’s monument, the body was slowly conveyed down the line to the Governor’s mansion, and carried into the large reception room. The bells were tolled till sundown, till which time hundreds of people remained on the Square. We have never before seen such an exhibition of heartfelt and general sorrow in reference to any other event whatever as has been evinced by all since the announcement of the death of Stonewall Jackson.
Two days later Jackson's body was moved to VMI, where he was still on the roll as a faculty member, and lay in state there until burial the next day at Lexington Presbyterian Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.
Jackson was a very strange, but brilliant officer. He had a rapport with Robert E. Lee that made the two of them as a team practically unbeatable. The men under his command would, and in many ways did, follow him to the Gates of Hell. The Confederacy could have tolerated the loss of any other general except Robert E. Lee at that time.
I think it can reasonably be argued, though of course it's unprovable, that the Battle of Gettysburg might have turned out in Lee's favor if he still had Jackson's counsel and leadership on his side.
Some historians call Pickett's Charge the "high-water mark of the Confederacy," but my take is the beginning of the end for the South came with the death of Stonewall Jackson.
I note his skills as a general and his passing here, and I admire his last words even if uttered in the midst of delirium, but he fought for an evil cause and was a slaveholder himself. Though he was a fervently pious man according to the standards of the time, I can't help but wonder if there might have been a little divine intervention in his demise and the blow that in turn delivered to the Confederacy. That, of course, is above my pay grade, but I can wonder.