Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 10, 1863 (Sunday): A Great National Calamity

Guinea Station-Site of Jackson's Death (

Secretary of War:
    It becomes my melancholy duty to announce to you the death of General Jackson. He expired at 3.15 p.m. to-day. His body will be conveyed to Richmond in the train to-morrow, under charge of Major Pendleton, assistant adjutant-general. Please direct an escort of honor to meet it at the depot, and that suitable arrangements be made for its disposition.

     R. E. LEE,

RICHMOND, VA., May 11, 1863.
General R. E. LEE:
     DEAR GENERAL: A great national calamity has befallen us, and I sympathize with the sorrow you feel and the embarrassment you must experience. The announcement of the death of General Jackson following frequent assurances that he was doing very well, and though the loss was one which would have been deeply felt under any circumstances, the shock was increased by its suddenness.
    There is sincere mourning here, and it will extend throughout the land as the intelligence is received.

    Your friend,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 791.

It was a shocking development.  Jackson had rallied for a time after his arm was amputated, but ultimately succumbed to pneumonia.  The deaths of Jackson and Lincoln were national events before the time of mass communication and both elicited deep mourning in their respective regions.  While many would mark Gettysburg as the turning point of the war, the death of Jackson marks a clear dividing point.  The Army of Northern Virginia would be effective, but never the same, after his death.

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