Battle of Chancellorsville

The greatest victory of the LeeJackson partnership came in early May 1863, when their sixty thousand-troop army whipped a Union force of 130,000 men at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. This dramatic rebel (Confederate) triumph against overwhelming odds was Lee's finest moment. He used his strong defensive position effectively, and devised clever troop movements that thoroughly confused his Union counterparts. The key to Lee's victory, however, was his decision to send Jackson on a deadly attack against the enemy's exposed flanks on May 2. This brutal assault struck a crushing blow against the Union Army, which retreated to the North a few days later.

Nonetheless, Stonewall's successful attack ended in tragedy for the South. As evening fell over the battlefield, a group of Confederate soldiers accidentally shot Jackson, who had been returning to camp after scouting out the enemy's position. At first, it appeared that he might recover from his three bullet wounds, even though doctors had to amputate his left arm. But Jackson developed pneumonia, which doctors could not treat at that time. His condition quickly worsened and he died on May 10, 1863.

The Strange Tale of iS^ Stonewall's Arm

When Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, one of the bullets that struck him shattered the bone in his left arm below the shoulder. Doctors amputated the arm in an effort to save him, then rushed Jackson off to a safe spot so that he could recover. Their efforts failed, however, when pneumonia claimed the soldier's life a few days later. Jackson's body was then taken to Richmond, where more than twenty thousand mourners paid their respects to him before his burial in a Lexington cemetery.

Stonewall's amputated arm, meanwhile, remained at Chancellorsville. An aide bundled up the arm and carried it to a nearby graveyard, where it was buried on May 3. A short time later, a stone with an inscription that read "Arm of Stonewall Jackson May 3 1863" was placed on the burial spot. The arm lay undisturbed until 1921, when Marine Corps general Smed-ley D. Butler (1881-1940) expressed disbelief that Jackson's arm was really buried there. He dug up the spot, only to find the arm nestled in a box. Stunned and regretful of his actions, Butler reburied the arm and erected a bronze plaque honoring the spot. The plaque was eventually stolen, but the original stone marker continues to stand watch over the final resting place of Stonewall's arm.

The Stonewall Jackson Monument in Richmond, Virginia. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

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