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The death of Gen. Stonewall Jackson and June 19, 1865, the day history changed

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By Bill Federer, June 19, 2024

President Abraham Lincoln's National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer was observed April 30, 1863.

Two days later, a freak accident occurred which altered the course of the war. One of the South's best generals was accidentally shot by his own men. Lt. General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was considered one of the greatest tactical commanders in history.

He refused to let his men give ground at the First Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, standing there "like a stonewall." Often outnumbered, sometimes 2 to 1, Jackson successfully fought the Shenandoah Valley Campaign:
  • Battles of McDowell (May 8, 1862);
  • Front Royal (May 23, 1862);
  • Winchester (May 25, 1862);
  • Port Republic (June 9, 1862);
  • Seven Days Battles (June 25-July 1, 1862);
  • Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28-30, 1862);
  • Antietam (September 17, 1862);
  • Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862); and
  • Chancellorsville (April 30-May 2, 1863).
Stonewall Jackson wrote to Col. Thomas T. Munford, June 13, 1862: "The only true rule for cavalry is to follow the enemy as long as he retreats."

Jackson advised Gen. John D. Imboden (Robert Underwood and Clarence C. Buel, eds. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, 4 vols. New York: Century Co., Vol.2, p. 297):

Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number.

The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it.

Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.

The day after Lincoln's Day of Fasting was observed, April 30, 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville began, May 1, 1863.

Outnumbered two to one, Stonewall Jackson's 60,892 Confederate troops successfully attacked the flank of 133,868 Union troops. The Union suffered a devastating 17,197 casualties to the Confederate 13,303. At the end of the day, May 2, 1863, Jackson surveyed the field and returned to camp at twilight.

Suddenly, one of his own men shouted, "Halt, who goes there," and without waiting for a reply, a volley of shots were fired. Two bullets hit General Jackson's left arm and one hit his right hand. Several men accompanying him were killed, in addition to many horses. In the confusion that followed, Jackson was dropped from his stretcher while being evacuated. His left arm was mangled, became infected, and had to be amputated.

Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote to Jackson: "Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead."

Gen. Lee sent the message through Chaplain B.T. Lacy: "He has lost his left arm but I my right ... Tell him that I wrestled in prayer for him last night ... as I never prayed for myself."

Jackson's injuries resulted in him contracting pneumonia. Growing weaker, Jackson said, May 10, 1863: "It is the Lord's Day; my wish is fulfilled. I have always desired to die on Sunday."

A few moments before he died, as he was losing consciousness, Jackson said: "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."

Jackson had previously told Gen.John D. Imboden ("Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Bull's Run," New York Times, May 3, 1885):

My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death.

I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. ... That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.

Many historians speculate what would have happened if Stonewall Jackson had not been shot. He most certainly would have been at the Battle of Gettysburg two months later, which conceivably would have resulted in a Confederate victory, changing the entire outcome of the war.

Jackson's death was difficult to reconcile, as he was exemplary in faith and virtue. He did not fight to defend slavery, but rather he fought to defend his home state of Virginia from the war of Northern Federal aggression. Jackson was personally against slavery, having arranged to free the slaves he inherited from his wife's estate.

Beginning in 1855, Jackson participated in civil disobedience every Sunday by teaching a Colored Sunday School class at the Lexington Presbyterian Church. This was against the law, as a Virginia statue forbade teaching slaves to read, especially after Nat Turner's rebellion. Nevertheless, Jackson regularly taught both slaves and free blacks, adults and children, to read the Bible.

The Revised Code of the Laws of Virginia (1819):

Whereas it is common in many places for slaves to meet at religious meeting-houses in the night, or at schools for teaching them reading or writing, which if not stopped may cause considerable evil to the community; Be it passed: That all meetings of slaves, or free negroes or mulattoes mixing with such slaves, at any meeting-house or school for teaching them reading or writing, either in the day or night, for any reason, shall be deemed an unlawful assembly. And any officer of the law may have permission to enter the house to arrest or send off such slaves, and to punish them with up to twenty lashes.

The Democrat Party has a history of enslaving blacks. Democrat Sen. Jefferson Davis from Mississippi became the President of the Confederacy. He stated: "African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing."

Democrat state legislatures passed Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, enforcing segregation, intimidating black voters, prohibiting blacks from learning to read and write, making it a crime for blacks to own weapons. Southern Democrats participated in the KKK.

The Republican Party was the first major political party to have abolition of slavery in its party platform, June 18, 1856:

This Convention of Delegates ... are opposed to ... the extension of Slavery into Free Territory ...

With our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons ...

... Our Republican fathers ... abolished Slavery in all our National Territory (with the Northwest Ordinance) ... It becomes our duty to maintain this provision ... against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery ... We deny the authority of Congress ... to give legal existence to Slavery ... It is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism—Polygamy, and Slavery.

A Republican, Abraham Lincoln stated in Springfield, Illinois, June 26, 1857:

Two weeks ago Judge Douglas spoke here on the ... Dred Scott decision ... He finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes ALL men, black as well as white ... He boldly denies that it includes Negroes ... I protest against that ... Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include Negroes ...

I think the authors of that noble instrument intended to include all men ...

Dred Scott, his wife and two daughters were all involved in the suit ... Judge Douglas is delighted to have them decided to be slaves ... How differently the respective courses of the Democratic and Republican parties ... Republicans inculcate ... that the Negro is a man; that his bondage is cruelly wrong ...

Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the wrong of his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him.

In 1861, Lincoln became the first Republican to be elected President. He addressed the Indiana Regiment, March 17, 1865: "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."

Lincoln proclaimed in his Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who later was a Republican President, recalled in 1878 his thoughts when he heard the Civil War had started: "As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt ... that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle."

Booker T. Washington wrote in The Story of My Life and Work, 1901: "So far as I can now recall, the first knowledge that I got of the fact that we were slaves, and that freedom of the slaves was being discussed, was early one morning before day, when I was awakened by my mother kneeling over her children and fervently praying that Lincoln and his armies might be successful, and that one day she and her children might be free."

A major turning point in the Civil War was the Battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862, the bloodiest day of fighting in American history with over 23,000 casualties.

The North was able to replace its fallen ranks by drafting European immigrants from crowded northern cities, but the South was agricultural and did not have the population base from which to draw new recruits. It was a war of attrition.

Republican President Lincoln met with his cabinet to draft the Emancipation Proclamation. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Portland Chase recorded Lincoln declaring: "When asked what he meant, Lincoln replied: 'I made a solemn vow before God, that if General Lee were driven back from Pennsylvania, I would crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves.'"

The Emancipation Proclamation stated:

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief ... do, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three ... publicly proclaim ... that ... persons held as slaves ... are, and henceforward shall be, free ...

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence ... and ... labor faithfully for reasonable wages ...

And upon this act ... I invoke ... the gracious favor of Almighty God.

Lincoln rushed to push through Congress the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery before the war ended as his Emancipation Proclamation was issued using Presidential war powers which would eexpire once the war ended.

He also feared that after the war, the southern states readmitted to the Union might block the Amendment's ratification and re-institute a form of slavery.

The 13th Amendment was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 8, 1864.

All 30 Republican Senators voted in favor of it, joined by 4 Democrats.

The U.S. House passed the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865.

All 86 Republicans voted in favor of it, joined by 15 Democrats, 14 Unconditional Unionists, and 4 Union men.

Voting against the 13th Amendment were 50 Democrat Congressmen, joined by 6 Union men.

The 13th Amendment stated: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Though not necessary, Lincoln added his signature to the 13th Amendment after the words "Approved February 1, 1865."

Lincoln said in his Second Annual Message, December 1, 1862:

"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free ... We shall nobly save — or meanly lose — the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain ... a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.

Nearly a half-million died fighting in the Civil War which freed four million slaves.

To celebrate this victory of Republican abolition policies over the Democrat pro-slavery policies is "Juneteenth," the day Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 from his headquarters in Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865, announcing:

The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.

Booker T. Washington was nine years old when the war ended. He remembered: "There was more singing in the slave quarters than usual ... Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom ... Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper ... After the reading we were told that we were all free and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks.

She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying but fearing that she would never live to see."
June19 by is licensed under Internet

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