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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Parmenas Bowker Pritchett, Jr.


Parmenas Bowker Pritchett, Jr. (Vickie Neely)

     During his long and productive lifetime, Parmenas Bowker Pritchett, Jr., served his community in a variety of roles. His most lasting legacy, however, was the part he played in establishing what has been a landmark in Spotsylvania County for 150 years--Goshen Baptist Church.

     His story begins with that of his father, Parmenas, Sr., who was born in Caroline County on September 29, 1781. Parmenas, Sr., seems to have enjoyed a certain level of status and prosperity during his years in Virginia, acquiring several tracts of land. Among these was a 510-acre tract of land on the Spotsylvania-Caroline county border inherited by his wife, Sarah Goodloe, whom he married on January 30, 1813.

     Parmenas, Sr., and Sarah had at least five children together, including two sons--Bird, born in 1814, and Parmenas, Jr., born about 1818. Things appeared to go well for the Pritchetts until 1824, when the name of Parmenas, Sr., first appeared on a list of Spotsylvania County insolvents. In October of that year, he was obliged to deed "all his interest in his home place" (presumably the Goodloe tract) to Sheriff Hamilton to pay a financial obligation. His fortunes do not seem to have improved over the next few years and in 1829 Parmenas, Sr., moved his family to Kentucky. The following year, the Pritchetts moved to Missouri, where they settled in Marion County. 

     Virtually nothing is known about the Pritchetts during their years in Missouri. When he died on August 17, 1835, Parmenas, Sr., left no will, and the court in Marion County appointed his son Bird as one of the administrators of his estate. What, if anything, the Pritchett children inherited from their father is not known. Bird Pritchett moved his family to Iowa in 1843, and he lived there for the rest of his life. A few years later, the younger Parmenas would get his own opportunity in Spotsylvania County.

Virginia Herald, 28 October 1835

     In 1846, James H. and Frances Hawkins deeded a farm in Spotsylvania County to young Parmenas's unmarried aunts, Henrietta and Lucy Pritchett. Known as "Orchard Hill," this property was located on Brock Road just east of its intersection with Gordon Road. The deed from the Hawkins couple (who for many years owned the farm adjacent to Wilderness Baptist Church) specified that Parmenas would gain title to the property after his aunts passed away.

     The 1850 census in the Pritchett's neighborhood, taken on November 9, 1850, shows Parmenas as the the head of his household, which included Henrietta and Lucy. This is somewhat peculiar, because the marriage records of Orange County show that he had married 18-year-old Anne Elizabeth Downer on September 16, 1850. Anne appears on the 1850 census as a member of the household of her guardian, John D. Hawkins. John was a brother of James H. Hawkins, and they were both uncles of Anne Downer.

     Anne Downer was born in Spotsylvania County in January 1832. She was a daughter of Larkin and Mary Foster Downer. Larkin was a blacksmith by trade and owned a shop on the Orange Turnpike just east of where Salem Church now stands.

Virginia Herald, 18 February 1835

     Anne's mother died in 1833, and Larkin Downer died in 1840. In his will, written five days before his death on December 27, Larkin left Anne a bed and some bedding, which was at R.W. Schooler's house in Caroline County. Larkin named his son Thomas as one of his executors. Thomas was married to Martha Hawkins, who was a sister of John D. and James H. Hawkins (who had deeded Orchard Hill to the Pritchetts).

      Parmenas and Anne lived at Orchard Hill, where they raised ten children who survived infancy. One son, Van, died of pneumonia at age 18 in 1888.

     The 1850 census also shows that Parmenas was a slave owner. He owned 14 people that year, the youngest being a one-year-old girl, the oldest a 70-year-old woman. As his household expanded, Parmenas found it necessary to advertise for additional help:

Fredericksburg News, 1 May 1854

     One of most salient aspects of Parmenas's life was his devotion to the Baptist Church. He took a strong stance against the use of alcohol and was for many years was an adherent of the Temperance movement. The earliest known mention of this occurred in 1852:

Fredericksburg News, 9 April 1852

     Parmenas's aunt Lucy died of pneumonia in 1853. She is believed to be buried in the Pritchett family cemetery at Orchard Hill. 

     On the eve of the Civil War, the 1860 census shows that there were seven whites living at Orchard Hill: Parmenas and Anne; children Booth, Lucy, William Robert and Annie; and overseer R.T. Minor. Mr. Minor had charge of 10 enslaved people, ranging in age from five to eighty. Their value accounted for much of the $10,825 personal estate of Parmenas Pritchett. 

     When Virginia seceded from the United States in April 1861, 43-year-old Parmenas did not join the Confederate army. He did, however, contribute to the Confederate cause by selling goods and services to various quartermaster officers, and to the St. Charles Hospital in Richmond:

Note that the payment for the 1,500 pounds of hay was made at the "Temperance Cottage." This suggests that there was a building at Orchard Hill where Parmenas hosted temperance meetings.

     During January-March 1863, Parmenas leased his slave, Ben Hostler, to the Confederate government, presumably to work on the fortifications in Richmond:

      In May 1864, the Civil War came literally to the front door step of the Pritchett home. During the titanic battles that occurred near Spotsylvania Courthouse, about 300 Confederate cavalry horses grazed on his land for three days. Ten acres of Parmenas's corn was trampled into the ground. The 1863 map detail below shows the location of the Pritchett farm (indicated as "Pritchard") in the lower center of the image:

     Parmenas's property suffered other damages as well. Four hundred panels of fencing were taken down. An acre of timberland was cut down for "bivouacing road," and an additional seven acres of trees were cut down to build fortifications. Earthworks were constructed on Parmenas's land. After the fighting was over, Parmenas hauled 500 feet of planking to the Confederate hospital near the courthouse:

     In addition to the economic losses he suffered during the war, Parmenas was further impoverished by the emancipation of his slaves.The value of his personal property, which stood at over $10,000 in 1860, had been reduced to just $400 by 1870.

     After the war, former slave owners like Parmenas had to pay wages to the newly freed people who worked for them. The Freedmen's Bureau was created to oversee the dealings between white employers and their black workers. In an effort to protect the rights of these workers, those who hired them were obliged to enter into labor contracts with these largely illiterate ex-slaves. The official who headed the Freedmen's Bureau in the Fredericksburg area was Captain Hector Sears. 

Captain Hector Sears

     Sears was born in Ulster County, New York in 1843. He enlisted in the 131st New York Volunteers in September 1862. At the Battle of Port Hudson in May 1863, Sears received a severe wound to his left shoulder, requiring the removal of a section of bone from his arm. He was mustered out of the regular service and transferred to the Veteran Volunteer Corps, where he did administrative work until he returned home in 1869. While head of the Freedmen's Bureau for the Fredericksburg area (his office was in Alexandria), Sears received the letter shown below. The letter was written to Sears by ex-slave Edward Stevens, who mentions that another ex-slave named George Barber, who was in the employ of P.B. Pritchett, would pay a debt as soon as he received his pay from Parmenas.

      Parmenas's aunt Henrietta would not live to see much of the success he enjoyed in the postwar years. She died at Orchard Hill on April 22, 1868 and is presumed to be buried in the family cemetery there.

     In the aftermath of the Civil War, Parmenas became active in politics. He became a member of the Conservative Party, which was formed by ex-Confederates to resist the policies of the Republican administration. In October 1867, Parmenas was one of the delegates selected to represent Spotsylvania in the party's state convention:

Virginia Herald, 10 October 1867

          In 1870, Parmenas was elected to a two-year term as a magistrate in Spotsylvania County:

Virginia Herald, 23 May 1870


          For many years, Parmenas regularly won re-election as magistrate. One of his more interesting cases made the headlines in 1885:

Alexandria Gazette, 29 August 1885

          Goshen Baptist Church had its roots in the last Anglican church built in Spotsylvania County before the American Revolution, Built in 1772, this house of worship was named Burbridges Bridge Church. It stood on the south bank of the Ni River at the intersection of Catharpin and Piney Branch roads. On the 1820 map detail shown below, it can be seen in the middle of the image, noted as "Burbage's Church:"

     When America achieved its independence from England, the authority of the Anglican church was swept away. In time, the Baptists, who had been outlawed during the colonial era, began to hold services at Burbridges Church under the leadership of Reverend John "Swearing Jack" Waller (a nickname he earned before his religious conversion). In due course, the "Old Yellow Church," as Burbridges came to be called, was pastored by Reverend Henry Goodloe,  grandfather of Parmenas, Jr. Parson Goodloe conducted services there until his death in 1820 at age 90. By 1847, membership at the Old Yellow Church began to dwindle and the sanctuary succumbed to decay. Its members left for newly built churches, like Wilderness and Piney Branch. The original members of what would become Goshen Baptist Church was composed of congregants of Piney Branch (which later became a church for black worshipers), who strongly believed that a commitment to the Temperance movement should be a requirement for membership. 

     Those former members of Piney Branch Church met at private homes and later would gather at the blacksmith shop of Parmenas Pritchett. Presiding at these meetings was Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor.

From "Footprints on the Sands of Time"

     Although it was not yet officially constituted as such, this informal church referred to itself as Goshen Baptist years before its first building was erected. One of the first mentions of Goshen in the local press appeared in the September 22, 1870 edition of the Virginia Herald:

     Parmenas Pritchett and Nathan Beale Talley, together with Reverend Chancellor, drew up a resolution that established Goshen: "At a monthly meeting of Goshen Church on April 27, 1872, Brother Chancellor was unanimously chosen as Pastor. The same day the church unanimously chose the name of Goshen by which it is to be called. Signed--A brief record. P.B. Pritchett." 

     In addition to the pivotal role they played in establishing Goshen Baptist Church, Parmenas and Nathan B. Talley also shared familial connections. Two of Parmenas's daughters married sons of Nathan B. Talley: Mollie became the wife of Nathan Beauregard Talley, and Lucy married Charles Newton Talley. 

     On July 25, 1873, Parmenas and Anne Pritchett deeded three fourths of an acre located at the intersection of Brock and Gordon roads, to the trustees of the church--James Petigrew Chartters, William F. Scott and William Laurance Jones.


Goshen Baptist Church

      The first sanctuary was likely built in 1874. The undated photograph above shows the original sanctuary, which stood until it was rebuilt in 1913. Shown below are the names of the earliest members of the church:

From "Footprints on the Sands of Time"

     Among the most eminent members of the church, of course, were the Pritchett family themselves, who posed for this portrait, taken perhaps in the early 1880s. Shown with Parmenas and Anne are their daughters Mollie (at far left) and Annie, and sons Robert, Lee and Booth:

(Courtesy of Vickie Neely)

     Parmenas suffered from ill health during his last months, and died at home on August 26, 1894. He lies in an unmarked grave at the family burying ground at Orchard Hill.

The Free Lance, 28 August 1894

Memorial and list of burials at Orchard Hill (Vickie Neely)

The Pritchett graveyard at Orchard Hill (Vickie Neely)

     After Parmenas's death, his widow Anne continued to live at Orchard Hill with her youngest son Larkin and daughters Alice and Maude. In 1902, Larkin built a new home for the family near the original house at Orchard Hill. That house still stands, although it has seen many changes in the last 120 years. When the Pritchett house was bought by the Stafford family in 1961, it still looked very much as it had when Larkin built it.

Dianne Stafford at Orchard Hill, 1961 (Dianne Stafford)

Keith Stafford at Orchard Hill, 1961 (Dianne Stafford)

     Larkin Pritchett married Cora Kent in Washington, DC on January 22, 1907. They lived at Orchard Hill with her mother and Larkin's sister Alice. Anne Downer Pritchett died at home on April 10, 1908. She is buried in the family cemetery at Orchard Hill.

     Larkin and Cora raised three children together, and lived at Orchard Hill for the rest of their lives. Larkin lived until 1954, and Cora died in 1968. They are buried at Goshen Baptist Church. 

     Shown below are two photographs of Orchard Hill from my family's collection. This one, taken about 1913, shows Larkin and Cora, at right, with their two oldest children Lee and Elizabeth. Larkin's sister Alice stands at center, and Cora's sister Fannie Kent is at far left:

     This undated photograph shows Cora Pritchett and her sister Lottie Kent at Orchard Hill:

My thanks to Vickie Neely and Dianne Stafford for their assistance in preparing this article.

My source for the history of Goshen Church is an unpublished monograph "Footprints on the Sands of time written, it is supposed, by church member Evelyn Monroe.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

"I immediately took command"


Carl Hermann Doerflinger (Findagrave)

     Karl Hermann Doerflinger (whose name was spelled "Carl" after he came to America) was born in Ettenheim in the state of Baden in the German Federation on February 17, 1843.  His parents were Karl Doerflinger and Theresa Gissalbrecht. The senior Karl had attended university, where he was an athlete. Karl the elder participated in the Revolution of 1848, in which democratic factions in German society sought to unify the states of the federation and provide for a constitution. Like many others, Karl was arrested and imprisoned for his role in the uprising. While he languished in prison, his wife Theresa baked "the means of his escape" in loaves of bread which she brought to him. At night, Karl got out of his cell and reached the outer wall of the prison, which he was able to scale because of his athletic ability. The Doerflinger family then crossed the Rhine River and made their way to the United States, arriving in 1848. 

     Like many other German immigrants of that era, the Doerflingers came to Wisconsin, and settled in Milwaukee. Young Carl (as he shall be called in this narrative. He often preferred to call himself the more anglicized "Charles") was a good student during the few years he attended school. From 1857 to 1860 he worked as an architect's apprentice. In 1860 he traveled to Colorado, where he worked for a time in the gold fields. He then returned to Wisconsin and worked on a farm until the outbreak of the Civil War. 

     Carl enlisted as a sergeant in Company B of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry on August 15, 1862 (his father served in the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry). Like many of the volunteer regiments in the Milwaukee area, the 26th was largely comprised of German immigrants. After two months of training, the 26th left Milwaukee for the eastern theater of the war. The men were crammed into freight cars and endured an uncomfortable three-day journey to Baltimore and then to Washington, D.C. They received additional training near Arlington Heights before they were transported to their camp in Stafford County. 

     The 26th was held in reserve during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The soldiers then had the decidedly unpleasant experience of the ill-fated "Mud March" in January 1863, after which they settled into their winter encampment near Stafford Courthouse. 

     Twenty-year-old Carl Doerflinger was promoted to 1st lieutenant on March 23, 1863 and transferred to Company K. The men remained in camp until April 27, 1863, when they were assembled and marched west. They crossed the Rapidan River at Germanna Ford by means of a pontoon bridge on April 29. 

     The 26th Wisconsin was part of the 2nd Brigade of the division commanded by General Carl Schurz (another German immigrant who had participated in the Revolution of 1848). These soldiers dug rifle pits along the Orange Turnpike near Wilderness Baptist Church. Their emplacements faced south, from which direction a Confederate attack was expected. 

Wilderness Baptist Church area, 1863

     In the map detail above, the Orange Turnpike runs from the upper right of the image and extends southwest past Wilderness Baptist Church and the farm of James Hawkins. Dowdall Tavern, the home of Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor, can be seen just southeast of Wilderness Church. 

The Hawkins house, 1912 (Noel Harrison)


Six of the eight Hawkins sisters at home, April 1866


     Unlike his commanding officer, General Oliver Otis Howard, General Schurz gave credence to intelligence that indicated that a large body of Confederates was working its way around the unprotected flank of the Union XI Corps. Schurz, who had made the Hawkins house his headquarters, asked Howard for permission to face one of his brigades to the west to meet this perceived threat. Howard reluctantly gave his assent. 

     In 1911, Carl Doerflinger drew this map to accompany his recollection of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Much of the following description of the events of the battle  are derived from Carl's memoir.

     The five regiments of the 2nd Brigade were shifted so that they now faced west. The 26th Wisconsin, the 58th New York and the 82nd Illinois formed a line 75 yards east of the tree line near the Hawkins house. The 82nd Ohio and the 157th New York were held in reserve. In all, this force likely numbered 2,000-3,000 soldiers. Ten men were selected from each of the ten companies of the 26th Wisconsin to serve as sharpshooters, with Lieutenant Doerflinger acting as second in command. These men advanced a little ways into the timber. They would not have to wait long. 

     A little past five in the afternoon of May 2, 1863, musketry and cannon fire could be heard southwest of Carl's position, as the 13,000 soldiers of the right wing of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's flanking force crashed into the startled Union soldiers along the Orange Turnpike. Very soon thereafter, Carl and his comrades could see figures in gray darting among the trees in their front. These figures very  quickly coalesced into a dense mass of Confederate soldiers which made rapid progress toward Carl's skirmish line. These were the leading edge of the remaining 17,000 Confederates of Jackson's 2nd Corps. 

     Carl and the other sharpshooters began firing at the gray mass in front of them. They then scampered the 75 yards back to where their main line had formed. The commander of this little band was shot dead during this footrace. During their dash back to the Union line, a bullet clipped the strap of Carl's haversack, which he instinctively grabbed before it hit the ground. A second bullet dented the scabbard for his sword. 

     Once Carl reached his regiment, he learned that his company commander had been wounded (mortally, as it turned out) making him the ranking officer of Company K. "I immediately took command." Drawing his sword, he rallied the troops of his company. The bravery of the 26th and the other regiments of the 2nd brigade slowed the progress of the Confederates by as much as 20 minutes or so, giving the other divisions to the east time to reform and make a credible defense. After the battle, Colonel William H. Jacobs, commander of the 26th, wrote a dispatch to the Milwaukee Herald in which he noted Carl's valor: "The palm of the day belongs to the young hero, Doerflinger."

     And then the moment came which changed Carl's life forever. A minie ball struck his left leg about four inches above the inner ankle bone, broke his tibia and traveled downward, fracturing the astragalus bone and heel before exiting through the sole of his foot. Carl fell to the ground. Before losing consciousness, he was dimly aware of the Confederate soldiers rushing past him (among them was young Alexander Hawkins, who had recently mustered out of the 47th Virginia Infantry. He joined his former comrades as they raced by his house). Carl awoke sometime during the night. He had been left for dead and remained on the field for seventeen hours before he was picked up and taken to the field hospital that had been set up at the Hawkins house. Two surgeons and their orderlies were treating hundreds of surgical cases.  

     These wounded men, now captives of the Confederate army, remained where they were for eleven days, when they were paroled and transported in wagons to the United States Ford (a short, but agonizing trip for men with broken bones and internal injuries). From there, Carl was taken to the Stanton Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Douglas and Stanton Hospitals

     The Douglas Hospital began its life as "Douglas Row," one of three large brick homes at I and 2nd Streets built in the 1850s through an investment by Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who lived in one of them. They were converted to hospital use during the war. The Stanton Hospital, named for the Secretary of War, was built in the vacant square in front of the Douglas Hospital.

     For weeks, the only treatment Carl received were changes of his dressings and "a nutritious diet." Unlike most soldiers of that era, Carl asked the doctors to amputate his leg. For whatever reason, they decided not to do so, and by June 20 a massive infection had set in, extending up to his groin and involving his lymph glands. His treatment was slightly modified and some improvement was seen during the next few days. But by June 26 the swelling had increased again. This time action had to be taken quickly. 

     On June 27, 1863, Assistant Surgeon George A. Mursick, U.S. Volunteers, amputated Carl's left leg a few inches above the knee. Because of the amount of swelling present, the amputation proved to be quite difficult. An insufficient amount of muscle tissue was used to cover the end of the femur, and for five consecutive days five additional surgeries were attempted to adequately cover the end of the femur. All of them failed. The bone protruded two and a half inches beyond the muscle. For the next 45 years, Carl lived in constant, debilitating pain. 

     Carl was not well enough to be transported back to Milwaukee until January 1864. The following month, he was mustered out of the army. A new phase of his life was about to begin. 

The German-English Academy, Milwaukee

     The traumatic experience of his amputation caused Carl to give up his pre-war ambition to become an architect. Instead, he decided to become an educator, and began teaching children at the German-English Academy in Milwaukee. This he did for several years. After a trip to Europe in 1869, Carl began to write and publish a number of books, pamphlets and tracts on the subject of education. He was an advocate for the concept of kindergarten for children and he helped start the first kindergartens in Milwaukee. He also wrote books about his progressive ideas on restructuring the American educational model.

     In 1872, as secretary of the Wisconsin Natural History Society, he began to urge the establishment of a public museum in Milwaukee. His vision became a reality in 1884 when the new building housing the Milwaukee Public Museum and Public Library opened its doors. For the next two years Carl served as the museum's first custodian.

     In 1889, Carl Doerflinger traveled to France and Switzerland where he collected more than 1,000 prehistoric relics which he brought back to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Several years later, he traveled extensively throughout Mexico, studying the cultivation of coffee, cocoa, rubber and other products. The one-legged Carl, by now in his fifties, traveled by mule through the Sierra Madre Mountains. 

Menasha Saturday Evening Press 12 September 1896


Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections

     In 1895, Carl bought a controlling interest in the artificial limb company founded by Richard Baty in 1872. In addition to Milwaukee, the Doerflinger Artificial Limb Company opened locations in Pittsburgh and Chicago, and was still in operation well into the twentieth century. 

     In 1899, Carl and other officers of his company were granted a United States patent for the creation of an artificial ankle joint.

     Carl achieved all this, and much more, while suffering in quiet agony, night and day, for 45 years. He consulted prominent physicians both in America and in Europe. Some of these doctors recommended re-amputation, others did not. Some minor procedures were performed on his thigh over the years. But neither these operations, nor the narcotics that he had come to rely on, could alleviate his suffering. There were many occasions when he would have to absent himself from his work for extended periods when the unremitting pain would not allow him to carry on. 

     On October 5, 1873, Carl married Auguste Barkhausen. Auguste would for many years be affiliated with the German-English Academy. She and Carl had four children together. Their son Arno became manager and secretary of the artificial limb company.

     In the 1880s, Carl and Auguste were visiting Washington, D.C. and decided to take a trip to visit the Chancellorsville battlefield. They took the train to Fredericksburg, where they rented a carriage and double team that Carl thought may have been old enough "to have served George and Martha Washington." Their driver was a convivial black man who, as a 12-year-old boy, "had been one of a posse or army of young children detailed after that very battle to collect every vestige of everything having any value, particularly tin canteens, that had belonged to our comrades."

Wilderness Church and Chancellor's Retreat, 1884 (National Park Service)

     When they reached their destination, their driver introduced Carl and Auguste to  Reverend Melzi Chancellor and his wife. Reverend Chancellor had built their home, Chancellor's Retreat, behind Wilderness Baptist Church after his previous home, Dowdall's Tavern, had  burned in 1869. Carl was impressed by Chancellor's accommodation to the realities of post-war life in Spotsylvania. "Our intelligent and genial host took a very sensible and loyal view of the results of the Civil War. 'We know very well what ailed Southerners: We were not taught to work; we have learnt it now, and we are teaching our children that lesson; and we are all better for it.'"

(National Park Service)

     The Doerflingers were left with a different impression of Reverend Chancellor's younger neighbors, the Hawkins family. At the time of their visit, the Hawkins house was home to Alex Hawkins and his wife and children, plus his six unmarried sisters. One of the sisters likely had on her mind the famously rash statement General Joseph Hooker made just before the Battle of Chancellorsville: "My plans are perfect, and when I start to carry them out, may God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none." Carl was dismayed by her comment to him: "I should think you should not wish to see the place again, where you were defeated after boasting so."


Men of  Progress: Wisconsin 1897

     By 1908, the torture of his stump no longer responded responded to any mitigation by opiates or other therapies. On April 8 of that year, his regular doctor, Albert Herschman, and surgical specialist Dr. Reinekin re-amputated Carl's thigh by a few inches. This time, the surgery was a success. Carl lived the last three years of his life in relative comfort. 

     Carl Hermann Doerflinger died on November 9, 1911. He is buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.


Special thanks to Marc Storch


Memoirs of Milwaukee County

Harrison, Noel G., "Chancellorsville Battlefield Sites," H.E. Howard, Inc. Lynchburg:VA, 1990

Doerflinger, Chas. H., "Personal Reminiscences of the Battle of Chancellorsville; Particularly on Hawkins' Field"

Men of Progress: Wisconsin 


Recommended Reading:

During the War, the Girls Saw Sights 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Jackson Monuments at Chancellorsville


Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson, 1862

     He had a few peculiarities, it must be said.

     He was a lifelong hypochondriac who fretted endlessly about his maladies, both real and imagined. He was convinced that one of his arms was longer than the other, and would hold up the longer arm for extended periods to equalize his circulation. While a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, he memorized his class lectures and delivered them with a decided lack of style. If asked for clarification of a certain point, he would simply repeat what was in his lecture. He was referred to as "Tom Fool" by cadets who snickered behind his back. 

     But his time in Lexington is also rightly remembered for moments of grace at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. With the approval and assistance of the church's pastor, Reverend William Spottswood White, Jackson organized a Sunday school class for enslaved black children.

     As was the case with Ulysses S. Grant and others, the Civil War allowed Jackson to give full expression to abilities that would otherwise have never been noted in the history books. He deservedly earned a reputation as a commander of large bodies of troops during the war. It was for his performance at the war's first large-scale battle at Manassas in July 1861 that he received the sobriquet by which he is most commonly known, "Stonewall."

     His nickname, however, did not accurately describe his consistent ability to gather intelligence about the armies that opposed him, and utilized speed and maneuver to achieve victory on the battlefield. His reputation for gaining victories as well as the respect of his men he commanded was cemented in the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1862. With only 17,000 men, Jackson was able to flummox a number of Union generals in a series of battles, during which his men would march at times more than 25 miles a day. Their endurance and mobility earned them the name of Jackson's "foot cavalry."

     Although Jackson did not perform particularly well during the Seven Days Battles near Richmond, he and his men did splendid work in the actions that followed: Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Harper's Ferry and Antietam, and Fredericksburg. No one was snickering now. 

     Jackson's seeming invincibility buoyed Southerners' hopes for the ultimate success of their rebellion. Had he lived, it is not unreasonable to think that his continued presence on the battlefield might have extended the war for some time. Providence, however, had intentions of another kind, and Jackson's luck ran out at Chancellorsville. 

Map detail of the Chancellorsville area, 1863

     On May 2, 1863, General Jackson led the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, some 26,000 soldiers, on a circuitous and grueling march that by late afternoon placed it unnoticed near the undefended right flank of the United States army. The Confederates formed up in battle array athwart the Orange Turnpike (today's Route 3) near John Luckett's farm. 

     One can only imagine the shock and terror experienced by the wholly unprepared Union soldiers as Jackson's men surged through them like an irresistible tsunami. Many soldiers in blue fled east to the fortified position around the Chancellorsville house, where Union commander General Joseph Hooker had made his headquarters. Other United States troops were able to organize an effective defense and blunted the Confederate advance. 

     After dark, Jackson and his staff were reconnoitering an area near the Mountain Road when they startled some sentries of the 18th North Carolina Infantry. Convinced that the horsemen that they could barely see were Union cavalry, the North Carolinians fired two volleys, striking several in Jackson's entourage. Jackson's left arm was smashed by two bullets, and a third struck his right hand. No longer being controlled by his rider, Jackson's Little Sorrel plunged through the woods toward the Turnpike before he was stopped. Jackson's aide-de-camp, James Power Smith, helped Jackson down from the saddle and then assisted in carrying him to safety.

James Power Smith

     Jackson was brought to the Second Corps hospital at Wilderness Tavern. There, his left arm was amputated by Dr. Hunter McGuire, assisted by Dr. Harvey Black and others. The corps' chaplain, Reverend Beverly Tucker Lacy, wrapped Jackson's arm in a blanket and carried it to nearby Ellwood, the home of his brother James Horace Lacy. He buried Jackson's arm in the family graveyard there.

Reverend Beverly Tucker Lacy

     After being allowed to rest for a day, Jackson was then taken to Fairfield, the Caroline County home of Thomas Coleman Chandler. Jackson died there on May 10. The following day, his body was placed in a rough coffin and placed on a train at nearby Guiney's Station and taken to Richmond, where his state funeral was held on May 12.

     If General Jackson's victories sustained the morale of the Southern people during his lifetime, his death created a shock wave of grief and despair. The Army of Northern Virginia would never again be the effective instrument of offensive power it had been with Jackson at the head of the Second Corps. 

     The devastation wrought by the Civil War in Spotsylvania County made the prospect of financing the creation of any formal monument to Stonewall Jackson an unattainable luxury. Years after the war's end, an unexpected discovery made possible the first modest monument to General Jackson. 

     In September 1879, a road-widening project on the old Turnpike took place near what was still known as Luckett's farm, although it had been bought at a delinquent tax sale in 1876 by neighbor Absalom McGee. A small quartz boulder, about three and a half feet high, was unearthed in a stream near the Luckett place. Recognizing its potential as a marker for the site of Jackson's wounding, James Horace Lacy, his brother Beverly and James Power Smith (by now he was Horace Lacy's son-in-law and pastor at the Fredericksburg Presbyterian Church) organized an effort to haul the stone to the Chancellorsville property. With the help of nearby farmers John Thomas Hawkins, James Meriwether Talley and Isaac Jones, who furnished teams of horses, they transported the rock to its new home. It was placed near where Jackson had been helped from his horse, rather than at the site of the actual shooting so that it could be easily seen from the road. 

Battlefield tourists pose at Jackson Rock, late 1800s

William Lee Kent with his daughter and grandchildren at Jackson Rock, 1930s

     In terms of Civil War monuments in Spotsylvania County, little changed over the course of the next several years. In May 1887, a handsome monument to Union General John Sedgwick was dedicated at the Bloody Angle battlefield. This would have the unintended effect of speeding up a process on Jackson's behalf that had its beginnings in Fredericksburg the year before.

Monument to General John Sedgwick ((John Banks) 

     In 1886, the Free Lance proposed that a monument be created by popular subscription to mark the spot where Stonewall Jackson was wounded. More than a year passed, and no one stepped forward act upon the newspaper's suggestion. The news that a monument to General Sedgwick would soon be in place in Spotsylvania appears to have focused the minds of those citizens who could make a difference. During February 15-17, 1887, the Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias held their meeting in Fredericksburg. During the course of the meeting, Rufus Bainbridge Merchant, publisher of what was then known as the Fredericksburg Star, made a motion that a fund raising effort be started that would lead to the erection of a monument to General Jackson. And so was born the Stonewall Jackson Monument Association. 

Free Lance 27 March 1887

     Merchant was chosen president of the Association, which would undertake the effort to publicize the subscription drive to fund the design, manufacture, transportation and placement of the monument. For a one dollar donation, the subscriber would become a member of the Association and would receive a "handsome certificate, with a view of the monument, when a plan shall be decided upon."

Wilfred Emory Cutshaw (Lovettsville Historical Society)

     The task of creating the design of the monument was given to Wilfred Emory Cutshaw, the city engineer of Richmond. Cutshaw had learned to be a civil engineer while a student at the Virginia Military Institute. During the Civil War, he  served as a captain of artillery in Stonewall Jackson's brigade. He was shot in the knee at the First Battle of Winchester in 1862. He taught at VMI while recuperating. Although not fully healed, Cutshaw returned to active service in 1863. He received another severe leg wound during the Battle of Sayler's Creek in April 1865. This time, just days before Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Cutshaw's leg had to amputated.

Richard Snowden Andrews

     The granite for the monument came from a quarry near Richmond owned by Baltimore architect Richard Snowden Andrews. Like Cutshaw, Andrews was an artillery officer in Stonewall Jackson's command. During the Battle of Cedar Mountain in August 1862, Andrews was nearly disemboweled after  he was struck by fragments of an exploding shell. Surgeons sewed him up, but did not expect him to survive. Eight months later he returned to active service--a silver plate had been fitted over his wound. He was wounded two more times before he was sent to Germany as an envoy representing the Confederate government. 

     Meanwhile, as the fund raising effort of the Association continued, an offer of help came from John McCalla Boulware, the owner of La Vista farm in eastern Spotsylvania County. In 1866, McCalla's mother, Ann Slaughter Boulware, was elected president of the Spotsylvania Ladies Memorial Association, which was charged with the task of raising funds to buy land for a cemetery in which to inter the still unburied dead Confederate soldiers lying on the local battlefields. Thomas Coleman Chandler, on whose farm General Jackson had died, donated the death bed to Mrs. Boulware so that it could be offered for sale and the proceeds applied to a land purchase. As it happened, Joseph Sanford, the owner of the inn at Spotsylvania Courthouse, donated the land for the cemetery, making the sale of the bed unnecessary. The bed remained at La Vista after Ann Boulware's death in 1873. When McCalla became the owner of La Vista several years later, he also inherited the bed, which he offered to Rufus B. Merchant to raise money for Jackson's monument. As in the previous instance, the sale of the bed proved to be unnecessary, as the money collected from subscriptions was sufficient. The bed remained in the offices of the Star for some time until McCalla brought it back to La Vista. 

     Of course, land had to be made available on which to place the monument. William N. Wyeth, a Baltimore iron and steel merchant, had bought the Chancellorsville property from John Henry Walzl in 1873 (it was Walzl who had rebuilt the Chancellorsville house in 1871). Wyeth donated a one-and-a-half acre parcel at the same location where the Jackson Rock had been placed. 

     The dedication was originally scheduled to take place on May 10, 1888, the 25th anniversary of the death of General Jackson. The contractors working on the granite could not meet that deadline, so the event was put off for a month. 

     As the new date for the dedication approached, the great numbers of visitors likely to attend obliged the event planners to make some provision for transporting people from Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville. Local residents with buggies and wagons available for hire were urged to bring them to Fredericksburg the day before the dedication, now scheduled for June 13. In addition, the local narrow-gauge railroad, the Potomac, Fredericksburg and Piedmont, would run excursion trains to Alrich's Crossing (located at the intersection of today's Old Plank and Catharpin roads). Alrich's was the closest stop on the line to the Chancellorsville house. From there, attendees would depend upon transport provided by locals to get the the assembly point at the Chancellorsville house. 

Free Lance 5 June 1888

Free Lance 8 June 1888

     The heavy pieces of granite for the monument were transported from the Fredericksburg depot to where they would be assembled. In this effort, several local men volunteered to help lift the component pieces into place: Confederate veteran Vespasian Chancellor, a frequent tour guide for visitors to the local battlefields and proponent for the preservation of those very battlefields; John Roberts Alrich, owner of the farm where Alrich's Crossing was located; and James T. Hawkins and James M. Talley, who had assisted in transporting the Jackson Rock nine years earlier. In the photograph below, Vespasian Chancellor stands to the left of the completed monument just days before the dedication ceremony. Still to be installed is the iron railing manufactured by Benjamin Bowering of the Hope Foundry in Fredericksburg. 

(Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park)

     On the morning of June 13, 1888 a vast throng of people, said to number 5,000 souls, began to make its way to Chancellorsville. A miles-long caravan of horse drawn conveyances slowly made its way west along the old Turnpike. The small excursion trains of the PF&P Railroad began shuttling visitors to Alrich's Crossing, and from there they were taken to the Chancellorsville house. The procession was organized there and then paraded the short distance to the monument.

Chancellorsville, 1870s (Confederate Memorial Literary Society)

     The events of that long-awaited day were chronicled in the Free Lance on June 15 by Charles Henry Robey, whose flowing, lyrical prose was well suited to the occasion. The assembled crowd at Chancellorsville included the largest gathering of Confederate soldiers in the area since the end of the war. But a great many northern admirers of General Jackson came as well, including some who had done battle with his legions. At noon the well-organized procession started from the Chancellorsville house.

Headline from the Free Lance 15 June 1888

     A roughly-hewn speakers platform had been built near the monument. Rufus B. Merchant began the ceremony with a few introductory remarks, followed by a speech by Governor Fitzhugh Lee, who described his actions as a cavalry commander on the day of Jackson's flank attack. Other speakers were also introduced, and then Reverend James Power Smith offered a prayer appropriate to the occasion. The Fredericksburg Musical Association then sang. This musical group was conducted, I believe, by Andrew Bowering (son of Benjamin Bowering, maker of the iron railing) who had conducted the music at Jackson's funeral in Richmond. In the photograph below, sitting at left in the rear of the carriage, is Senator John W. Daniel; next to him is Governor Fitzhugh Lee. In the front of the carriage facing the camera is John L. Marye, Jr. Rufus B. Merchant, in the bowler hat, is next to him.

(Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park)

     After the formalities concluded, a festival atmosphere prevailed among the visitors: "True Virginia hospitality was the order of the day, and everybody was welcome to everybody else's lunch basket. Quite a number of booths had been erected in the shady woods, at which solids and liquids were dispensed at reasonable compensations...Everybody was in good spirits; it was essentially a good-natured crowd, it had all on the surface the appearance of a picnic...John Barleycorn knocked down a number of indiscreet visitors at Chancellorsville. They lay about in the woods like dead soldiers."


Jackson monument 1897 (Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park)

     The Jackson monument became a tourist destination from the day it was built, and has remained so for the intervening 134 years of its existence. Among its early visitors were veterans of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, popularly known as the "Collis Zouaves." While in Spotsylvania for the dedication of their own monument in May 1899, they posed for this photograph:

Collis Zouaves at Jackson monument, 1899

     Although it is not properly known as a "monument," one more stone memorial honoring General Jackson would be placed fifteen years after his official monument was dedicated. In 1903, Reverend James Powers Smith brought to Ellwood this stone, which marks the place where Jackson's arm had been buried. 

Ellwood, 1930s

     Today, the monument at Chancellorsville looks very much like the day it was dedicated. Bowering's iron railing was removed in the 1930s by the National Park Service.


Pfanz, Donald. Jackson Rock 

Hennessy, John. A Little Mystery Solved 

Mackowski, Chris. How the Sites of Stonewall Jackson's Wound and Death Became Tourist Attractions 

Mink, Eric. "Dedication of the Stonewall Jackson Monument at Chancellorsville," Fredericksburg History and Biography, 2006

Recommended Reading:

Banks, John. Major General John Sedgwick's Death: 'Like an Electric Shock' 

Stone Sentinels. Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson 

The Story of General Jackson's Bed

La Vista

The Funerals of Stonewall Jackson

Benjamin Bowering Rediscovered

The Zouaves Come to Chancellorsville