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In Their Own Words

May 16, 1863

Civil War Soldiers Recalled Stonewall Jackson

A Georgia soldier writing home to his wife told her of the death of Stonewall Jackson; it turned out he was near the accident.

“…You no doubt before this time have heard of the death of our brave and beloved General Stonewall Jackson. We gained a glorious and brilliant victory but his death has cast a gloom over that brilliancy that cannot be easily erased. I was near him when he as killed but did not know it at the time. He was shot on Saturday night, by his own men, … He and his staff were galloping near them and they thought it was the Yankee cavalry and fired. …”

Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), pp. 69-70.

Another Georgia soldier writing to his brother told of their recovery from battle, then also added his account of Stonewall Jackson, which included a recent personal sighting.

“…In truth, what we underwent during the eight days that we were in the field was enough to have jaded us. The sudden change of the weather to extreme heat was surely felt by us and the heavy rains which occurred fell mostly at night and thus broke our rest, besides our minds were worn out, having been a long time kept in constant expectation of an attack. But from all this fatigue we have recovered happily, and, although our numbers are a little diminished, still the spirits of our men are good, their self-reliance even stronger than before. Our great loss by this exposure has been General Jackson. Although his wounds were severe, I believe it is thought they did not much, if at all, precipitate his end. His forceful constitution was destroyed by an attack of pneumonia. On the morning of the 29th ultimo, when we first formed in line of battle, he rode along our line, and long before his arrival we knew of his approach by the loud cheering (he was the only one of our generals whom the troops ever cheered). It was his custom on such occasions to ride in a gallop with his head uncovered. He sat his horse perfectly erect and showed himself an excellent horseman. I heard it remarked, and I perceived myself, that morning that he was unusually pale. I suspect he was not well at that very time. …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.),“Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 241.