|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.
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
Mink, Eric. "Dedication of the Stonewall Jackson Monument at Chancellorsville," Fredericksburg History and Biography, 2006
Stone Sentinels. Lieutenant Thomas J. Jackson