A balm to a wounded South: honoring Jackson and the dead at Guinea Station, 1866


From John Hennessy:

"Fairfield," the Chandler Plantation at Guinea Station, before the removal of the big house (left), early 1900s. The farm office where Jackson died is at right, and survives.

The great risks that attended secession did not become obvious to many Southerners until the experiment failed, until the South was vanquished. In diaries and letters written during the months following Appomattox, the people in and around Fredericksburg struggled to reconcile defeat with the immense losses the community, state, and South had suffered. In May 1865, Lizzie Alsop of Princess Anne Street wailed,”Each day increases the weight upon our hearts; & we feel more accutely the loss we have sustained; our country, our cause, our all.”  A other great example can be found in this letter from Hannah Rawlings of Spotsylvania County.

As witness to more Southern sacrifice than any other place in the nation, the Fredericksburg region symbolized the cost of war acutely. A few residents seem to have been much aware of the immense investment the Confederacy had made here, and sought to justify that sacrifice with honor.  Here is a letter from Guinea Station, written in 1866 (it appeared in the Fredericksburg Ledger  on June 29). The letters speaks to the nexus between wartime and postwar suffering and the need to honor the sacrifices embodied at the failed attempt to create the Confederate States of America.

The farm office at Jackson Shrine today.

Guiney’s Depot,  Caroline County, Va.

Editor of the Ledger:

            DEAR SIR:–I suppose you can, in some degree, appreciate the condition of the people at present;  we are without money and nothing to see to get it; there is a complete failure in the wheat crops in my neighborhood.

            I have intended for some time to give you some account of the way in which the anniversary of the death of our much lamented Jackson was spent in the neighborhood of Guiney’s depot, by the patriotic young ladies and gentlemen in that vicinity.  They turned out on that day and made up and decorated with flowers, over one hundred greaves of the Confederate soldiers, mostly from the Southern States.  I think such things should be published to let the friends of those who fell in our country’s cause know that they are not forgotten by the people of Virginia; that their husbands and sons, though filling soldier’s graves, are alive in the hearts of those who were engaged in a common cause.  Much credit is due, especially to the ladies, for this manifestation of their respect to the soldiers; much has been done, and I hope much more will be done in honor of the soldiers who lost their lives in behalf of our beloved, though unfortunate country.

            With my best wishes for your prosperity, I subscribe myself yours with respect.

                                                                            J. M. B. 

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