Monument Commemorating the Wounding of Stonewall Jackson
The Battle of Chancellorsville is often credited as Robert E. Lee's greatest military achievement. During that battle, one of Lee's most capable officers, Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, was mortally wounded. On May 2, 1863, Jackson ordered a flank assault that concluded at sundown. However, as Stonewall and his staff rode in front of his men’s line to conduct some reconnaissance on the Union position, Jackson was mistaken for Union cavalry and was fired upon by the men of a North Carolina regiment. The monument was erected in 1888 and marks the place where Jackson was taken off his horse after being wounded. Recent research has also revealed the precise location where Jackson was wounded-just west of the monument. The monument itself is located behind the Chancellorsville Visitors Center. This incident is dramatized in the 2003 film, Gods and Generals. Stephan Lang portrays Stonewall Jackson in this film.
Backstory and Context
Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was quickly rose in fame as he became one of Lee’s most-trusted subordinates. Jackson was credited with a sense of confidence that often inspired other Confederate troops and contributed to some of the South's early success in the Civil War. However, the death of Jackson from a wound inflicted owing to his own carelessness for not alerting his own troops as to his location caused a major drop in morale. When news reached Lee of Jackson's injury he stated “Jackson may have lost his left hand, and I have lost my right”.
The wound itself it not kill Jackson. Jackson had been battling illness and his immune system was weakened at the time. When Jackson had to have his left arm amputated because of the wound, each of these maladies combined and caused the general to contract a deadly case of pneumonia.
Jackson's importance to the Confederate army was demonstrated soon after his death. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered Jackson's replacement, General Richard Ewell, to take a hill “if practical.” Lee had grown accustomed to issuing these kinds of orders to Jackson, expecting that he would engineer a way to make them practical rather than simply deciding to engage or not engage the enemy. Ewell took the order literally and decided to hold his men, a decision that allowed Union troops to occupy the high ground and helped to shift the tide of that pivotal battle.