The Wounding of Stonewall Jackson

                                     " Extracts from a Letter  of Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh"

[The following extracts from a private letter of Major Leigh, who was then serving on General A. P. Hill's staff, have never been in print, and will be appreciated as sheding additional light on the events of which they treat.]


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"On Friday the 1st, D. H. Hill's, Trimble's and A. P. Hill's divisions-that is to say, all of Jackson's corps, except Early's division-marched from the vicinity of Hamilton's crossing to a point on the Plank road, 
about eight miles westward of Fredericksburg.   Early's division was left to watch a body of the enemy who 
had crossed the Rappahannock at a point opposite to Hamilton's crossing, whilst the rest of the troops marched towards Chancellorsville, where the enemy's main force had been concentrated.   The greater part 
of Anderson's and McLaw's division had been driven from their positions near Chancellorsville by the advance of the enemy, and we were marching to the support of those divisions.
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"Saturday the 2d I found General A. P. Hill with his staff at a point about three-fourths of a mile from Chancellorsville. General Lee, General Anderson, General Pender, and a number of general officers were here. There was some skirmishing going on in our front and several minnie balls from the enemy's skirmishers passed near us.  "Jackson's corps had already commenced the flank movement.

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"D. H. Hill's division, under Brigadier-General Rodes, had gotten out of our way, and had been followed by Trimle's division, under Brigadier-General Colston. A. P. Hill's division came last. We left the Plank road at a point so near the enemy that his balls whistled over our heads, and marching from 9 o'clock in the morning till 3 in the evening-a distance of ten or twelve miles, through a dense wilderness-found ourselves at the other end of our detour, on the right flank of the enemy, and not more than three or four miles from the point at which we had left the Plank road.   A part of our march was alongside of a road in plain view of the enemy and under fire from one of his batteries. Why he did not attack us I can hardly conjecture.   I have understood that they believed we were in full retreat to the southward; it is certain they never guessed our real design, for their right flank was assailed by us when 
they so little expected an attack that many of their troops were cooking their supper.

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"Arrived at the point of our destination and having driven in the enemy's pickets, General Jackson made 
his dispositions for the attack.

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"It consisted simply in deploying D. H. Hill's and Colston's divisions and all but two brigades of A. P. Hill's division on each side of the old turnpike leading
to Chancellorsville, with one brigade of (I believe) D. H. Hill's division deployed across the Plank road, and the remaining brigades of A. P. Hill's division marching by the Plank road down the old turnpike. * * *

General A. P. Hill rode along down the road, occasionally dashing off to the right or left to see what some particular brigade was doing, and, of course, his staff accompanied him. This state of things continued from 6 o'clock in the evening, when the attack commenced, until 9 1/2 o'clock. In the meantime our troops had driven the enemy about three or four miles towards Chancellorsville.  They had run like sheep on our approach-throwing away their arms, knapsacks and everything of which they could divest themselves; they had been completely surprised.  They had thrown up entrenchments to meet an attack from the front, but as we assailed their right flank, their entrenchments had been useless to them and they abandoned them.  They had, it is true, barricaded 
the roads, and some of their entrenchments were in 
the right direction to meet our attack; but neither barricades nor entrenchments enabled them to even delay our progress. Our troops marched in line of battle through the woods filled with thick undergrowth and across ravines at a rapid pace for several hours. The thick woods, the combat and the coming on of darkness had deranged our lines, and brigades, and even divisions, had gotten mixed together. In this state of things we nevertheless pressed forward until we reached the brow of the declivity opposite that on which the tavern, etc., know as Chancellorsville, is situated. Here we were met by the fire of a heavy battery, posted as so to enfilade the road. The troops halted, and General Jackson and General Hill rode forward for the purpose, as I suppose, of making arrangements to take the position occupied by the enemy's battery.

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"At one point we were subjected to a severe fire 
from the battery but it slackened after awhile and
we pursued our course; we soon passed our most advanced line,   and were still riding down the road, when suddenly a musketry fire opened to our right in the wood.  From whom this fire proceeded I have near learned, but it seemed to serve as a signal for the enemy's battery to resume its fire.   In an instant the road was swept by a storm of grape and canister; the shells burst above us, around us and amongst us. General Hill and staff turned back towards our lines, and as we approached them we abandoned the road which was, as I have said, enfiladed by the enemy's battery-and turned off to our right in woods. Whether it was that our troops mistook us for a body of Federal cavalry, or for some other reason, I do not know, but as we approached within fifteen or twenty paces of our line we were received with a blaze of fire. This alone, without the fire from the enemy's battery, which still continued, would have rendered our situation a most perilous one.   As it was, it seemed as if we were all doomed to destruction. General Hill's staff disappeared as if stricken by lighting. I perceived that my only hope of escape was in getting to the ground and lying down, that I might expose as little of myself as possible to the fire of our men.   I accordingly endeavored to dismount, but my horse was rearing 
and plunging so violently that I could not do so. Just at this time he was shot-as I judged from his frantic leap-and whether he threw me or I managed to get 
off myself, I am unable to say, but I found myself 
lying on the ground. I received a smart blow on the side of my head, and put up hand to see if I was wounded, but soon found I was unhurt. I laid on the ground for a short time-until our troops discounted their fire-and then rose. I saw a number of dead and dying men and horses around me, and a horse standing near me; I immediately mounted him and rode about in the woods to see if I could find General Hill; I soon found and rejoined him. We came out into the road together at the point at which we had left it, and he informed me-or I heard some one say-that he was going forward to see General Jackson who had been wounded. I perceived that almost all his staff 
had disappeared. * * * * *

"We soon came up to where General Jackson was; we found him lying by the side of the road, under a little pine tree. General Hill directed me to go for a surgeon and an ambulance for the General, and I hastened off for the purpose.

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"I had not gone more than a hundred yards when
I met General Pender marching up the road with his brigade. I told him that General Hill had sent me for 
a surgeon and an ambulance for General Jackson, and he said there was an Assistant Surgeon-Dr. Barr-with
his command; he called for Dr. Barr, and that gentleman speedily appeared. Dr. Barr said there was no ambulance within a mile of the place, but that he had a litter with him. I hastened with Dr. Barr and 
the litter-bearers back to where I had left General Jackson, and I also carried with me Captain Smith, General Jackson's Aid-de-Camp, who had ridden up inquiring for the General. We had been with the General but a short time, when the enemy's battery again commenced to fire upon us. * * 

"General Jackson rose and walked a few yards leaning on my arm. His left arm had been broken above the elbow, and a ball had passed through his right hand. * * *

"We had not gone far when he laid down on the litter and we took it up and were carrying him along, when the cannonade became so terrific that the two litter carriers abandoned the litter, leaving no one with General Jackson but Captain Smith and myself. We 
laid the General down in the middle of the road and ourselves beside him. The road was perfectly swept by grape and canister. A few minutes before, it had been crowded with men and horses, and now I could see no man or beast or thing upon it but ourselves. After a little, General Jackson again rose and walked a short distance to the rear, turning aside off the road, partly because the enemy's fire was mainly aimed at the road and partly because the road was again becoming encumbered with infantry and artillery, and it was easier to go through the woods. But he soon became faint, and we again put him on the litter. I could not induce any of the men we met to act as litter-bearers-
I had myself brought the litter on after the General undertook to walk a second time-until I told them 
that it was General Jackson whom we wished to carry. This I was reluctant to do, as we wished to conceal from the troops as long as possible the fact of his having been wounded.  As soon, however, as I mentioned his name, I found every one willing to 
aid us. We proceeded in this way for, I think, about half a mile. As we were going through the woods one of the men got his foot entangled in a grape vine and fell, letting General Jackson fall on his broken arm. For the first time he groaned piteously; he must have suffered agonies. He soon recovered his composure, however, and we again took the road to avoid the repetition of such an accident. It was a long time before we got out of the space on which the fire of 
the battery seemed to be concentrated; as long as we were in it, the shells burst around us thick and fast; they seemed like falling stars. At length I met Dr. Whitehead, who, as I have since learned, had been summoned when General Jackson was found to be wounded. Dr. Whitehead had procured an ambulance, in which was placed the General. It was already occupied in part by a person whom I did not then recognize, but whom I afterwards found to be Colonel Crutchfield, of the artillery, who had his leg broken.  General Jackson at this time complained of great pain in the palm of his left hand, and repeatedly asked for spirits, of which we were unable to find any for a long time, but Dr. Whitehead at length procured a bottle 
of whisky.  After we had gone a short distance with
the General in the ambulance, we stopped at the 
house of Melzei Chancellor to get some water for 
the General and Colonel Crutchfield. * * 

At Melzei Chancellor's, Dr. Hunter McGuire, Chief Surgeon of our corps, joined us and took charge of
the General.

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"Arriving at the hospital, I found Drs. Coleman, Taylor and Fleming; * * * that General Jackson had already arrived; and the surgeons told me it would be necessary to amputate his arm. No one at that time seemed to think that his life was in danger". * *

*Taken from the Southern Historical Society Papers
Volume VI, Richmond, Va, November, 1878 pages 231-234