by Dawn Farmer
The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson
by Chris Mackowski* and Kristopher D. White
*S&R’s very own Chris Mackowski
Reading The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson is like poring over a treasure chest of family relics as a wise uncle explains the contents. The wise uncles are the authors Chris and Kristopher. These two historians and writers have taken an amazing number of primary and secondary sources and woven a fascinating tale of the last week in the life of Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, accidentally shot by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. They report documented events with insights and an obvious love and respect for the topic.
This accessible volume can be read in a single sitting, but don’t, you’ll be rewarded by savoring the details. The story is told in words, selected art, maps, quotes and historic and modern photos. Each is selected to enhance important points in the storyline. The authors excel at filling in the small details that bring the story to life. The reader knows the weather, feels the confusion of battle, senses the fear when Stonewall is shot, and importantly the authors give us closure in knowing the calm certainty Stonewall Jackson felt in his final moments.
“Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” – The last words of Stonewell Jackson.
The story has moments as diverse as learning Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried separately from his body (it was amputated in the aftermath of his shooting, but some days before Jackson succumbed to complications of pneumonia) to a touching passage retelling the moment Jackson met his daughter Julia. There are handy timelines included and an appendix listing the fate of all the characters in this drama. When you finish the final chapter you will be very glad you opened that treasure chest.