Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stonewall Jackson Shrine

We hadn’t been to the Jackson Shrine in many years, so with a free afternoon on Monday (I am almost living the life of a retiree these days), we decided to revisit the site. It’s changed a bit since we were there last, with a nicely paved road to the site, and a plaza with interpretive displays and restrooms that I don’t remember from our last visit. This is where Stonewall Jackson died, in an outbuilding on the Fairfield plantation of Thomas Chandler. Mistakenly shot by his own men at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, Stonewall’s arm was amputated (it’s buried here), and he was taken to the Chandler plantation, where he died on May 10 from pneumonia. The main plantation house no longer stands; only the office where Jackson received medical care remains.

The park ranger gave us a particularly dramatic retelling of Jackson’s last days. The ranger had one of those soft southern accents that would have been perfect in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary. Jackson’s conversations with loved ones in the final days are a poignant part of the story. It’s hard not to tear up just a little.

Here's the room where he died, with the original clock, still ticking:

Jackson's deathbed, with original blanket:

Jackson's doctors met in this room:

The display area:

The site is open Saturday through Monday from 9-5 through the end of April, then open daily starting May 1.

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