History in Our Backyard Chapter 7: Jackson’s Flank Attack & Wounding

On the evening of May 1, 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, General “Stonewall” Jackson and Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee held an historic meeting sitting on a “cracker box” near the intersection of Plank and Furnace Roads.

They agreed upon a plan for Jackson to maneuver around the Union army and initiate a flank attack.  The next morning Jackson and approximately 28,000 troops, nearly half of Lee’s Army, started their march.  Charles Wellford, owner of Catherine Furnace, and his son guided them along back roads for 12 miles ending up on the right flank of the Union Army’s XI Corp.  Around 5:15 p.m., rebel soldiers attacked, routing the Union troops and pushing them back until nightfall.  Jackson considered pressing the attack but decided to conduct his own personal reconnaissance before committing to an unusual nighttime attack. 

Exhibit 7: Arm of Jackson

Jackson set out around 9 p.m. with his entourage.  His guide, 19 year old Private David Kyle, took them down a narrow road passing through Confederate lines and riding to within a few hundred yards of the enemy when Jackson’s staff cautioned that it would be too dangerous to go further.  They turned around, retracing their path when they were fired upon by their own soldiers, mistaking them for Union skirmishers.  Jackson was hit three times – once in his right hand and twice in the left arm.   His staff rushed to his side, summoned his surgeon, Dr. Hunter McGuire, placed Jackson in an ambulance, and transported him to a field hospital – a large tent at Wilderness Tavern – near today’s Routes 3 and 20 Intersection; there, Dr. McGuire amputated Jackson’s left arm.  Jackson’s chaplain, Beverly Tucker Lacy, carried Jackson’s amputated arm to Ellwood plantation, a mile away and owned by Lacy’s brother, where he buried it in the family cemetery; it remains there today.  When Gen Lee heard of Jackson’s wounding, he exclaimed that “Jackson may have lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm!”  After his amputation, Stonewall Jackson was transported 27 miles to Guinea Station, near exit 118 on Interstate 95, where he died of pneumonia on May 10.

Visit the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center, off Route 3, to learn more about Jackson’s flank attack and even follow along the Jackson Trail.  Ellwood Manor on Route 20 offers an opportunity to view the burial site of Jackson’s arm and hike to nearby Wilderness Tavern.  Finally, Guinea Station is a shrine to Jackson and readily accessible off Interstate 95.                                           

Author:  Joanne Pino
Date: May 2018

Read Previous Chapter. Chapter 6: Relive the Battle of the Wilderness

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