From John Hennessy:
Note: Donald Pfanz’s new book is out: The Letters of Richard Ewell.
Note 2: see the bottom of this post for a nifty little update.
Photo by Donald Pfanz
The last few weeks have been busy ones, leaving little time for mysteries or conundrums in the wash of preps for the Fredericksburg 150th. But it’s also been uncommonly productive of new things coming in or being learned, including several new images we’ll share soon.
One of the enduring little mysteries that has lingered for decades revolves around what’s known as the “Jackson Rock” at Chancellorsville. Is it the oldest “monument” in the park? When was it placed? Don Pfanz’s extensive and invaluable work on the park’s monuments, never published, could not answer those questions. (Here is his entry on the Jackson Rock, written before the date of the rock could be confirmed.)
Last month I came across a short article in the September 29, 1879 issue of the Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago) that at least answered one of those questions. The piece, with a dateline of “Fredericksburg, Va. Sept. 23” noted:
Yesterday a large boulder of white quartz rock, from near the Wilderness, was placed to mark the spot where Stonewall Jackson received his death wound. A simple inscription will be put on the stone. The Rev B.F. Lacy, of Missouri, Jackson’s chaplain, originated the project.
Date solved: September 22, 1879. The promised inscription never materialized. Instead, an association of Confederate veterans formed to erect a more elaborate, suitable memorial to Jackson’s wounding. It’s easy to speculate that the ex-Confederates were spurred in their commemorative initiative by the impending placement (by Yankees) of a monument marking the death of Union general John Sedgwick at Spotsylvania.
In the face of that, Jackson surely needed something more dignified than an unhewn, blank rock. And so in June 1888, more than 5,000 spectators gathered to dedicate a new memorial, and the Jackson Rock became a footnote, its memorial-esque origins rarely understood and its presence often overlooked. So it remains, though the stone sits just a few dozen yards south of the Chancellorsville Visitor Center.
In the nearly nine years of the rock’s heyday as the sole marker at (or near) the site of Jackson’s wounding, the stone apparently gained some fame. Continue reading