Death of General Stonewall Jackson

Thomas' Legion
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
HISTORY OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEE INDIANS
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers
American Civil War Store: Books, DVDs, etc.
The Death of General "Stonewall" Jackson, by Dr. Hunter McGuire

The Death of General "Stonewall" Jackson as Recorded by His Personal Physician

Southern Historical Society Papers.

Vol. XIV. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1886.

Death of Stonewall Jackson.

BY DR. HUNTER McGUIRE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF JACKSON'S CORPS.

 
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was shot by friendly fire during the battle of Chancellorsville, and he died in an outbuilding on the Chandler plantation in the rural community of Guinea Station. Although "Stonewall" Jackson received a gunshot wound, he would die from pneumonia eight days later. Today, the Jackson Shrine is part of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Supported upon either side by his aids--Captain James P. Smith and Joseph Morrison--the General moved slowly and painfully towards the rear. Occasionally resting for a moment to shake off the exhaustion which pain and the loss of blood produced, he at last reached the line of battle, where most of the men were lying down to escape the shell and canister with which the Federals raked the road. General Pender rode up here to the little party and asked who was wounded, and Captain Smith, who had been instructed by General Jackson to tell no one of his injury, simply answered, "A Confederate officer"; but Pender recognized the General, and, springing from his horse, hurriedly expressed his regret, and added that his lines were so much broken he feared it would be necessary to fall back. At this moment the scene was a fearful one. The air seemed to be alive with the shrieks of shells and the whistling of bullets; horses, riderless and mad with fright, dashed in every direction; hundreds left the ranks and fled to the rear, and the groans of the wounded and dying mingled with the wild shouts of others to be led again to the assault. Almost fainting as he was, from loss of blood, fearfully wounded, and as he thought dying, Jackson was undismayed by this terrible scene. The words of Pender seemed to rouse him to life. Pushing aside the men who supported him, he stretched himself to his full height and answered feebly, but distinctly enough to be heard above the din of the battle: "General Pender, you must hold on to the field; you must hold out to the last."

General "Stonewall" Jackson
General Stonewall Jackson.jpg
(General "Stonewall" Jackson death bed)

General Stonewall Jackson
General Stonewall Jackson.jpg
(Courtesy VMI)

It was Jackson's last order upon the field of battle. Still more exhausted by this effort, he asked to be permitted to lie down for a few moments, but the danger from the fire, and capture by the Federal advance, was too imminent, and his aids hurried him on. A litter having been obtained, he was placed upon it, and the bearers passed on as rapidly as the thick woods and rough ground permitted. Unfortunately, another one of the bearers was struck, down, and the litter having been supported at each of the four corners by a man, fell and threw the General to the ground. The fall was a serious one, and as he touched the earth he gave, for the first time, expression to his suffering, and groaned piteously.

Captain Smith sprang to his side, and as he raised his head a bright beam of moonlight made its way through the thick foliage and rested upon the pale face of the sufferer. The captain was startled by its great pallor and stillness, and cried out: "Oh! General, are you seriously hurt?" "No," he answered, "don't trouble yourself, my friend, about me;" and presently added something about winning the battle first and attending to the wounded afterwards. He was placed upon the litter again, and carried a few hundred yards, when I met him with an ambulance. I knelt down by him and said, "I hope you are not badly hurt, General." He replied very calmly but feebly, "I am badly injured, Doctor; I fear I am dying." After a pause he continued, "I am glad you have come. I think the wound in my shoulder is still bleeding." His clothes were saturated with blood, and hemorrhage was still going on from the wound. Compression of the artery with the finger arrested it until, lights being procured from the ambulance, the handkerchief, which had slipped a little, was readjusted.

(Right) This version of the 1862 "General Stonewall Jackson Winchester Photograph" was found in many late-19th century photograph albums. In addition to images of family and friends, many albums contained "collectible" images of famous military figures.

His calmness amid the dangers which surrounded him and at the supposed presence of death, and his uniform politeness, which did not forsake him, even under these, the most trying circumstances, were remarkable. His complete control, too, over his mind, enfeebled as it was by loss of blood, pain, &c., was wonderful. His suffering at this time was intense; his hands were cold, his skin clammy, his face pale, and his lips compressed and bloodless; not a groan escaped him--not a sign of suffering except the slight corrugation of his brow, the fixed, rigid face, and the thin lips so tightly compressed that the impression of the teeth could be seen through them. Except these, he controlled by his iron will all evidence of emotion, and more difficult than this even, he controlled that disposition to restlessness, which many of us have observed upon the field of battle, attending great loss of blood. Some whiskey and morphia were procured from Dr. Straith and administered to him, and placing him in the ambulance it was started for the corps field infirmary at the Wilderness tavern. Colonel Crutchfield, his chief of artillery, was also in the ambulance wagon. He had been wounded very seriously in the leg, and was suffering intensely.

The General expressed, very feelingly, his sympathy for Crutchfield, and once, when the latter groaned aloud, he directed the ambulance to stop, and requested me to see if something could not be done for his relief. Torches had been provided, and every means taken to carry them to the hospital as safely and easily as possible. I sat in the front part of the ambulance, with my finger resting upon the artery above the wound, to arrest bleeding if it should occur. When I was recognized by acquaintances and asked who was wounded, the General would tell me to say, "A Confederate officer." At one time he put his right hand upon my head, and pulling me down to him, asked if Crutchfield was dangerously injured. When answered "No, only painfully hurt," he replied, "I am glad it is no worse." In a few moments after Crutchfield did the same thing, and when he was told that the General was very seriously wounded, he groaned and cried out, "Oh, my God!" It was for this that the General directed the ambulance to be halted, and requested that something should be done for Crutchfield's relief.

After reaching the hospital he was placed in bed, covered with blankets, and another drink of whiskey and water given him. Two hours and a half elapsed before sufficient reaction took place to warrant an examination. At 2 o'clock, Sunday morning, Surgeons Black, Walls and Coleman being present, I informed him that chloroform would be given him, and his wounds examined. I told him that amputation would probably be required, and asked if it was found necessary whether it should be done at once. He replied promptly: "Yes, certainly. Dr. McGuire, do for me whatever you think best." Chloroform was then administered, and as he began to feel its effects, and its relief to the pain he was suffering, he exclaimed: "What an infinite blessing," and continued to repeat the word "blessing," until he became insensible. The round ball (such as is used for the smooth-bore Springfield musket), which had lodged under the skin upon the back of his right hand, was extracted first. It had entered the palm about the middle of the hand, and had fractured two of the bones. The left arm was then amputated about two inches below the shoulder, very rapidly and with slight loss of blood, the ordinary circular operation having been made. There were two wounds in his arm. The first and most serious was about three inches below the shoulder-joint, the ball dividing the main artery and fracturing the bone. The second was several inches in length; a ball having entered the outside of the forearm, an inch below the elbow, came out upon the opposite side just above the wrist. Throughout the whole of the operation, and until all the dressings were applied, he continued insensible. Two or three slight wounds of the skin of his face, received from the branches of trees when his horse dashed through the woods, were dressed simply with isinglass plaster.

About half-past 3 o'clock, Colonel (then Major) Pendleton, the assistant adjutant-general, arrived at the hospital and asked to see the General. He stated that General Hill had been wounded, and that the troops were in great disorder. General Stuart was in command, and had sent him to see the General. At first I declined to permit an interview, but the colonel urged that the safety of the army and success of the cause depended upon his seeing him. When he entered the tent the General said: "Well, major, I am glad to see you. I thought you were killed." Pendleton briefly explained the condition of affairs, gave Stuart's message, and asked what should be done. General Jackson was at once interested, and asked in his quick, rapid way several questions. When they were answered, he remained silent for a moment, evidently trying to think; he contracted his brow, set his mouth, and for some moments was obviously endeavoring to concentrate his thoughts. For a moment it was believed he had succeeded, for his nostril dilated, and his eye flashed its old fire, but it was only for a moment; his face relaxed again, and presently he answered very feebly and sadly, "I don't know, I can't tell; say to General Stuart he must do what he thinks best." Soon after this he slept for several hours, and seemed to be doing well. The next morning he was free from pain, and expressed himself sanguine of recovery. He sent his aide-de-camp, Morrison, to inform his wife of his injuries, and to bring her at once to see him. The following note from General Lee was read to him that morning by Captain Smith: "I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory, which is due to your skill and energy." He replied: "General Lee should give the praise to God."

General Stonewall Jackson
General Stonewall Jackson.jpg
(Courtesy VMI)

(Right) The last photograph of Jackson dates from late April 1863 and is often called the "Chancellorsville photograph." Jackson was headquartered near what would soon become his last battlefield - Chancellorsville - when a photographer from the Richmond studio of Minnis and Crowell convinced him to pose for a portrait. Jackson was killed less than two weeks later.

About 10 o'clock his right side began to pain him so much that he asked me to examine it. He said he had injured it in falling from the litter the night before, and believed that he had struck it against a stone or the stump of a sapling. No evidence of injury could be discovered by examination. The skin was not broken or bruised, and the lung performed, as far as I could tell, its proper functions. Some simple application was recommended, in the belief that the pain would soon disappear.

At this time the battle was raging fearfully, and the sound of the cannon and musketry could be distinctly heard at the hospital. The General's attention was attracted to it from the first, and when the noise was at its height, and indicated how fiercely the conflict was being carried on, he directed all of his attendants, except Captain Smith, to return to the battlefield and attend to their different duties. By 8 o'clock Sunday night the pain in his side had disappeared, and in all respects he seemed to be doing well. He inquired minutely about the battle and the different troops engaged, and his face would light up with enthusiasm and interest when told how this brigade acted, or that officer displayed conspicuous courage, and his head gave the peculiar shake from side to side, and he uttered his usual "Good, good," with unwonted energy when the gallant behavior of the "Stonewall brigade" was alluded to. He said "the men of that brigade will be some day proud to say to their children, 'I was one of the Stonewall brigade.'" He disclaimed any right of his own to the name Stonewall. "It belongs to the brigade, and not to me." This night he slept well, and was free from pain.

General Stonewall Jackson
General Stonewall Jackson.jpg
(Courtesy VMI)

A message was received from General Lee the next morning directing me to remove the General to Guinea's station as soon as his condition would justify it, as there was some danger of capture by the Federals, who were threatening to cross at Ely's Ford. In the meantime, to protect the hospital, some troops were sent to this point. The General objected to being moved, if, in my opinion, it would do him any injury. He said he had no objection to staying in a tent, and would prefer it if his wife, when she came, could find lodging in a neighboring house; "and if the enemy does come," he added, "I am not afraid of them; I have always been kind to their wounded, and I am sure they will be kind to me." General Lee sent word again late that evening that he must be moved if possible, and preparations were made to leave the next morning. I was directed to accompany and remain with him, and my duties with the corps as medical director were turned over to the surgeon next in rank. General Jackson had previously declined to permit me to go with him to Guinea's, because complaints had been so frequently made of general officers, when wounded, carrying off with them the surgeons belonging to their commands. When informed of this order of the commanding-general he said," General Lee has always been very kind to me, and I thank him." Very early Tuesday morning he was placed in an ambulance and started for Guinea's station, and about 8 o'clock that evening he arrived at the Chandler house, where he remained till he died. Captain Hotchkiss, with a party of engineers, was sent in front to clear the road of wood, stone, etc., and to order the wagons out of the track to let the ambulance pass.

(Right) This oil portrait was painted by William D. Washington in 1868. Washington, a noted 19th century American artist who was a member of the VMI faculty after the Civil War, produced a number of portraits of Institute alumni and faculty who died during the war. The portrait hangs in VMI's Preston Library.

The rough teamsters sometimes refused to move their loaded wagons out of the way for an ambulance until told that it contained Jackson, and then, with all possible speed, they gave the way and stood with hats off and weeping as he went by. At Spotsylvania Courthouse and along the whole route men and women rushed to the ambulance, bringing all the poor delicacies they had, and with tearful eyes they blessed him and prayed for his recovery. He bore the journey well, and was cheerful throughout the day. He talked freely about the late battle, and among other things said that he had intended to endeavor to cut the Federals off from United States ford, and taking a position between them and the river, oblige them to attack him; and he added, with a smile: "My men sometimes fail to drive the enemy from a position, but they always fail to drive us away." He spoke of Rodes, and alluded in high terms to his magnificent behavior on the field Saturday evening. He hoped he would be promoted. He thought promotion for gallantry should be made at once, upon the field and not delayed. Made very early, or upon the field, they would be the greatest incentives to gallantry in others. He spoke of Colonel Willis (subsequently killed in battle), who commanded the skirmishers of Rodes's division, and praised him very highly, and referred to the deaths of Paxton and Boswell very feelingly. He alluded to them as officers of great merit and promise. The day was quite warm, and at one time he suffered from slight nausea. At his suggestion, I placed over his stomach a wet towel, and he expressed great relief from it. After he arrived at Chandler's house he ate some bread and tea with evident relish, and slept well throughout the entire night. Wednesday he was thought to be doing remarkably well. He ate heartily for one in his condition, and was uniformly cheerful.

I found his wounds to be very well to-day. Union by the first intention had taken place to some extent in the stump, and the rest of the surface of the wound exposed was covered with healthy granulations. The wound in his hand gave him little pain, and the discharge was healthy. Simple lint and water dressings were used, both for the stump and hand, and upon the palm of the latter a light, short splint was applied to assist in keeping at rest the fragments of the second and third metacarpal bones. He expressed great satisfaction when told that his wounds were healing, and asked if I could tell from their appearance how long he would probably be kept from the field. Conversing with Captain Smith a few moments afterwards, he alluded to his injuries, and said, "Many would regard them as a great misfortune; I regard them as one of the blessings of my life." Captain Smith replied: "All things work together for good to those that love God." Yes," he answered, "that's it, that's it."

At my request Dr. Morrison came to-day and remained with him. About 1 o'clock Thursday morning, while I was asleep upon a lounge in his room, he directed his servant (Jim) to apply a wet towel to his stomach to relieve an attack of nausea, with which he was again troubled. The servant asked permission to first consult me, but the General knowing that I had slept none for nearly three nights, refused to allow the servant to disturb me, and demanded the towel. About daylight I was aroused, and found him suffering great pain. An examination disclosed pleuro-pneumonia of the right side. I believed, and the consulting physicians concurred in the opinion, that it was attributable to the fall from the litter the night he was wounded. The General himself referred it to this accident. I think the disease came on too soon after the application of the wet cloths to admit of the supposition, once believed, that it was induced by them. The nausea, for which the cloths were applied that night, may have been the result of inflammation already begun. Contusion of the lung, with extravasation of blood in his chest, was probably produced by the fall referred to, and shock and loss of blood prevented any ill effects until reaction had been well established, and then inflammation ensued. Cups were applied, and mercury, with antimony and opium, administered.

General Stonewall Jackson
General Stonewall Jackson.jpg
(Courtesy VMI)

(Right) A composite image depicting Jackson and his staff, circa 1863.

Towards the evening he became better, and hopes were again entertained of his recovery. Mrs. Jackson arrived to-day and nursed him faithfully to the end. She was a devoted wife and earnest Christian, and endeared us all to her by her great kindness and gentleness. The General's joy at the presence of his wife and child was very great, and for him unusually demonstrative. Noticing the sadness of his wife, he said to her tenderly: "I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may yet recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, 'Thy will be done.'"

Friday his wounds were again dressed, and although the quantity of the discharge from them had diminished, the process of healing was still going on. The pain in his side had disappeared, but he breathed with difficulty, and complained of a feeling of great exhaustion. When Dr. Breckenridge (who, with Dr. Smith, had been sent for in consultation) said he hoped that a blister which had been applied would afford him great relief, he expressed his own confidence in it, and in his final recovery.

Dr. Tucker, from Richmond, arrived on Saturday, and all that human skill could devise was done to stay the hand of death. He suffered no pain to-day, and his breathing was less difficult, but he was evidently hourly growing weaker.

When his child was brought to him to-day he played with it for some time, frequently caressing it and calling it his "little comforter." At one time he raised his wounded hand above his head and closing his eyes, was for some moments silently engaged in prayer. He said to me: "I see from the number of physicians that you think my condition dangerous, but I thank God, if it is His will, that I am ready to go."

About daylight on Sunday morning Mrs. Jackson informed him that his recovery was very doubtful, and that it was better that he should be prepared for the worst. He was silent for a moment, and then said: "It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven." He advised his wife, in the event of his death, to return to her father's house, and added: "You have a kind and good father, but there is no one so kind and good as your Heavenly Father." He still expressed a hope of his recovery, but requested her, if he should die, to have him buried in Lexington, in the Valley of Virginia. His exhaustion increased so rapidly that at 11 o'clock Mrs. Jackson knelt by his bed and told him that before the sun went down he would be with his Saviour. He replied: "Oh, no; you are frightened, my child; death is not so near; I may yet get well." She fell over upon the bed, weeping bitterly, and told him again that the physicians said there was no hope. After a moment's pause he asked her to call me. "Doctor, Anna informs me that you have told her that I am to die to-day; is it so?" When he was answered, he turned his eyes toward the ceiling and gazed for a moment or two as it in intense thought, then replied: "Very good, very good, it is all right." He then tried to comfort his almost heart-broken wife, and told her that be had a great deal to say to her, but he was too weak.

Colonel Pendleton came into the room about 1 o'clock, and he asked him, "Who was preaching at headquarters to-day?" When told that the whole army was praying for him, he replied: "Thank God, they are very kind." He said: "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

His mind now began to fail and wander, and he frequently talked as if in command upon the field, giving orders in his old way; then the scene shifted and he was at the mess-table, in conversation with members of his staff; now with his wife and child; now at prayers with his military family. Occasional intervals of return of his mind would appear, and during one of them I offered him some brandy and water, but he declined it, saying, "It will only delay my departure, and do no good; I want to preserve my mind, if possible, to the last." About half-past one he was told that he had but two hours to live, and he answered again, feebly, but firmly, "Very good, it is all right."

A few moments before he died he cried out in his delirium, "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks," then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and he cried quietly and with an expression as if of relief, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees"; and then, without pain or the least struggle, his spirit passed from earth to the God who gave it.

(About) Video interviews regarding the life, faith, and death of General "Stonewall" Jackson.

Recommended Reading: Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (Hardcover) (950 pages). Description: A distinguished Civil War historian unravels the complex character of the Confederacy's greatest general. Drawing on previously untapped manuscript sources, the author refutes such long-standing myths as Stonewall Jackson's obsessive eating of lemons and gives a three-dimensional account of the profound religious faith frequently caricatured as grim Calvinism. Though the author capably covers the battles that made Jackson a legend--Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, etc.--he emphasizes "the life story of an extraordinary man." The result is a biography that will fascinate even those allergic to military history. Continued below...

The New York Times Book Review, Stephen W. Sears . . . [T]wo dozen writers have attempted [Stonewall] biographies, and there are any number of special studies, monographs and essays. Now going straight to the head of the class of Jackson biographers, and likely to remain there, is James I. Robertson Jr. . . . Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend gives us far and away the sharpest picture we have ever had of this enigmatic figure.

Site search Web search

Advance to:
 

Recommended Reading: Stonewall in the Valley: Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Spring 1862. Description: The Valley Campaign conducted by Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson has long fascinated those interested in the American Civil War as well as general students of military history, all of whom still question exactly what Jackson did in the Shenandoah in 1862 and how he did it. Since Robert G. Tanner answered many questions in the first edition of Stonewall in the Valley in 1976, he has continued to research the campaign. This edition offers new insights on the most significant moments of Stonewall's Shenandoah triumph. Continued below.

About the Author: Robert G. Tanner is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. A native of Southern California, he now lives and practices law in Atlanta, Georgia. He has studied and lectured on the Shenandoah Valley Campaign for more than twenty-five years.
 

Recommended Viewing: Gods & Generals (2003) (219 minutes), starring Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Mark Aldrich, and George Allen. Description: The more you know about the Civil War, the more you'll appreciate Gods and Generals and the painstaking attention to detail that Gettysburg writer-director Ronald F. Maxwell has invested in this academically respectable 219-minute historical pageant. Continued below…

In adapting Jeffrey Shaara's 1996 novel (encompassing events of 1861-63, specifically the Virginian battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville), Maxwell sacrifices depth for scope while focusing on the devoutly religious "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang), whose Confederate campaigns endear him to Gen. Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall, giving the film's most subtle performance). Battles are impeccably recreated using 7,500 Civil War re-enactors and sanitized PG-13 violence, their authenticity compromised by tasteful discretion and endless scenes of grandiloquent dialogue. Still, as the first part of a trilogy that ends with The Last Full Measure, this is a superbly crafted, instantly essential film for Civil War study. For all its misguided priorities, Gods and Generals is a noble effort, honoring faith and patriotism with the kind of reverence that has all but vanished from American film – but provides abundant proof that historical accuracy is no guarantee of great storytelling. It is a sweeping epic charting the early years of the Civil War and how campaigns unfolded from Manassas to the Battle of Fredericksburg, and this video was the prequel to the film Gettysburg, which explores the motivations of the combatants and examines the lives of those who waited at home.

 

Recommended Reading: Beloved Bride: The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife. Description: He called her "my beloved esposa" because Anna was his dearest love on this earth. The great military exploits of General Stonewall Jackson are studied in military schools around the globe, and his iron will and stern self-discipline have become legendary. However, little has been said about his remarkable marriage. The real Thomas J. Jackson was a humble Christian and loving husband and father. The tender and instructive letters he wrote to his wife Anna are a model of godly leadership and covenantal faithfulness. Continued below...

From their courtship to their final days together, trace the true story of this remarkable couple through the letters of General Jackson to his bride. Even in the midst of the most arduous military campaigns, Stonewall took the time to send home extensive letters of love and devotion. Through all of this, General Jackson proves himself to be a model example for Christian husbands of the twenty-first century -- especially through his dedication to living for God's glory and trusting in His providential care. This special edition book features a foreword by Stephen Lang, the actor who portrays "Stonewall" Jackson in the film, Gods and Generals. "[C]onsidered a must have addition for every Civil War buff."

 
Recommended Reading: Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine (Hardcover). Description: A landmark chronicle of Civil War medicine, Bleeding Blue and Gray is a major contribution to our understanding of America’s bloodiest conflict. Indeed, eminent surgeon and medical historian Ira M. Rutkow argues that it is impossible to grasp the harsh realities of the Civil War without an awareness of the state of American medicine at the time. At the outset of the war, the use of ether and chloroform remained crude, and they were often unavailable in the hellish conditions at the front lines. As a result, many surgical procedures were performed without anesthesia in the compromised setting of a battleground or a field hospital. Continued below...
This meant that “clinical concerns were often of less consequence,” writes Rutkow, “than the swiftness of the surgeon’s knife.” Also, in the 1860s, the existence of pathogenic microorganisms was still unknown–many still blamed “malodorous gasses” for deadly outbreaks of respiratory influenza. As the great Civil War surgeon William Williams Keen wrote, “we used undisinfected instruments from undisinfected plush-lined cases, and still worse, used marine sponges which had been used in prior pus cases and had been only washed in tap water.” Besides the substandard quality of wartime medical supplies and techniques, the combatants’ utter lack of preparation greatly impaired treatment. In 1861, the Union’s medical corps, mostly ill-qualified and poorly trained, even lacked an ambulance system. Fortunately, some of these difficulties were ameliorated by the work of numerous relief agencies, especially the United States Sanitary Commission, led by Frederick Law Olmsted, and tens of thousands of volunteers, among them Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman. From the soldiers who endured the ravages of combat to the government officials who directed the war machine, from the good Samaritans who organized aid commissions to the nurses who cared for the wounded, Bleeding Blue and Gray presents a story of suffering, politics, character, and, ultimately, healing.
 

Recommended Viewing: Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story, starring James I Robertson Jr., Bill Potter, and Ken Carpenter (2007) (DVD). Description: His legacy as a military genius is widely renowned. Now, in Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story, his legacy as a man of resolute Christian character is captured in this revealing documentary. Through stunning High Definition videography and expert narrative, Still Standing traces the life of Stonewall Jackson from his orphaned childhood, to the Sunday School class he taught for African Americans that has resulted in a lasting impact today, to the pivotal role he played as a General in the Civil War. Still Standing inspires, entertains, and educates as it examines the life of a uniquely American hero. Continued below…

Review: In true Franklin Springs Family Media fashion, Still Standing: The Stonewall Jackson Story is destined to become a family favorite. Still Standing chronicles the life of a true Christian man brought to fame by his exemplary military acumen in the American Civil War. But it was his faithfulness to the Gospel in his family, with his children, toward his soldiers, and the Sunday School class for Blacks (freemen and slaves) that he started, taught, and supported that, no doubt, earned Thomas Jackson the reward of hearing those precious words, Well done, good and faithful servant, from his King when he crossed over the river and finally rested under the shade of the trees. This important documentary will be used in my family to inspire a new generation to look to General Jackson as a man with flaws, but who followed hard after Christ. May mine and I, by God s grace, stand like a stone wall before the onslaught of the enemy, trusting that we are as safe on the battlefield as we are in our beds. --Home Schooling Today

 

Recommended Reading: Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs (Hardcover) (475 pages). Description: Nothing is left unstudied! Alfred Jay Bollet covers a multitude of areas in the world of the medical care/treatment featuring early war ill-preparation, being overwhelmed, medical science, surgery, amputations, wounds, hospitals, drugs, diseases, prison camps and notable individuals of the era. Every chapter offers added insight via biographies on individuals that had influence on the subject discussed—thus adding more intrigue to this book. Continued below...

This book is considered very comprehensive and fair to all parties involved…often bringing to light the importance of doctors and nurses through out the entire war and its aftermath. Numerous sidebar articles appear throughout the text to embellish points of interest and a nice appendix is provided, as well as countless charts offering statistical data. Bollet's style is very reader friendly - you don't have to be that “med student” to enjoy it!

 

Recommended Reading: Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service (339 pages) (Louisiana State University Press). Description: Horace Herndon Cunningham has created a comprehensive history of the "Confederate medical services in the Civil War." Cunningham explains in great detail the many afflictions and circumstances that befell Confederate soldiers and ultimately resulted in medical treatment by the Confederate doctor. Ironically, his research reflects that the majority of the ill and wounded soldiers who died had expired due to a burgeoning and developing medical system. Continued below...

Medical advancements, however, had progressed from primitive to slightly better by the end of the conflict. Cunningham further explains that while the Confederate doctors did the best that they could with their resources and shortcomings, there were some exceptional doctors who aided in the advancement of both medicine and medical treatment.
 

Recommended Reading: Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care during the American Civil War (University of Illinois Press). Description: Gangrene and Glory covers practically every aspect of the 'medical related issues' in the Civil War and it illuminates the key players in the development and advancement of medicine and medical treatment. Regarding the numerous diseases and surgical procedures, Author Frank Freemon discusses what transpired both on and off the battlefield. Continued below.

The Journal of the American Medical Association states: “In Freemon's vivid account, one almost sees the pus, putrefaction, blood, and maggots and . . . the unbearable pain and suffering.” Interesting historical accounts, statistical data, and pictures enhance this book. This research is not limited to the Civil War buff, it is a must read for the individual interested in medicine, medical procedures and surgery, as well as some of the pioneers--the surgeons that foreshadowed our modern medicine.

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Best viewed with Google Chrome

Google Safe.jpg