On May 2, 1863, Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson led his Second Corps around the unsuspecting Army of the Potomac on one of the most daring flank marches in history. His surprise flank attack―launched with the five simple words “You can go forward, then”―collapsed a Union corps in one of the most stunning accomplishments of the war. Flushed with victory, Jackson decided to continue attacking into the night. He and members of his staff rode beyond the lines to scout the ground while his units reorganized. However, Southern soldiers mistook the riders for Union cavalry and opened fire, mortally wounding Jackson at the apogee of his military career. One of the rounds broke Jackson’s left arm, which required amputation. A week later Old Jack was dead.
Calamity at Chancellorsville: The Wounding and Death of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is the first full-length examination of Jackson’s final days. Contrary to popular belief, eyewitnesses often disagreed regarding key facts relating to the events surrounding Jackson’s reconnaissance, wounding, harrowing journey out of harm’s way, medical care, and death. These accounts, for example, conflict regarding where Jackson was fatally wounded and even the road he was on when struck. If he wasn’t wounded where history has recorded, then who delivered the fatal volley? How many times did he fall from the stretcher? What medical treatment did he receive? What type of amputation did Dr. Hunter McGuire perform? Did Jackson really utter his famous last words, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees?” What was the cause of his death?
Author Mathew W. Lively utilizes extensive primary source material and a firm understanding of the area to re-examine the gripping story of the final days of one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals, and how Southerners came to view Jackson’s death during and after the conflict. Dr. Lively begins his compelling narrative with a visit from Jackson’s family prior to the battle of Chancellorsville, then follows his course through the conflict to its fatal outcome.
Instead of revising history, Dr. Lively offers up a fresh new perspective. Calamity at Chancellorsville will stand as the definitive account of one of the most important and surprisingly misunderstood events of the American Civil War.
“The definitive book on the last days of Stonewall Jackson.”
― Frank A. O’Reilly, author of The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock
“The fatally wounded body of Stonewall Jackson has generated more controversy among historians than any of his famous military campaigns, and Mathew Lively dissects the events surrounding the general’s wounding and his medical care with surgical precision. Much of the established knowledge about Stonewall Jackson’s final days comes under question because of Lively’s microcosmic inspection of remarkable source material and research. Calamity at Chancellorsville gives us new angles from which to observe a deadly moment in Confederate history, one that is infused with high drama and intense action.”
― Peter S. Carmichael, Fluhrer Professor, Gettysburg College
“Stonewall Jackson’s wounding at Chancellorsville is one of the pivotal dramas of the Civil War. Dr. Mathew Lively is uniquely qualified to explore this tragic tale. Blending meticulous research and sparkling prose with the eye of a physician, Lively offers a fresh and compelling account of Jackson’s last days in Calamity at Chancellorsville. In the process he humanizes the blue-eyed warrior, revealing valuable new insight on the cause of his death.”
― W. Hunter Lesser, author of Rebels at the Gate
Mathew W. Lively
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An Interview with Mathew W. Lively
Q. Why did you decide to write this particular book?
ML: Stonewall Jackson's death was appealing to me for multiple reasons. First, I am a West Virginia native, as was Jackson, although it was still a part of Virginia when he was born. Nonetheless, our state still considers him a native of our land. Second, I have had a long interest in Civil War history that dates back to my childhood. And last, as I became a physician, I became interested in medical history, particularly 19th century medical history. Researching Jackson's death allowed me to concentrate all my interests into one subject.
Q. What specifically interested you initially about researching Stonewall Jackson's history?
ML: Stonewall Jackson is a well-recognized name in the state of West Virginia. His boyhood home, Jackson's Mill, is a popular state 4-H camp. There is a statue of him on the state capitol grounds, and a recreational lake and...
Passionate Civil War buffs, like anyone with a genuine love for a particular period of history, eventually reach a point where they know their events, places, and people well enough to teach a 200-level college course on them from memory. Yet having a passion means wanting more, and that is where many a Civil War buff turns to primary sources or the pursuit of a more intimate knowledge. For students of Stonewall Jackson, Mathew Lively's Calamity at Chancellorsville is an invaluable boost in taking that next step.
In recounting the events of Jackson's last days of active service, his wounding, and his decline and demise, Lively paints a vivid picture of Jackson's final days and the decisions behind his famed flank attack at Chancellorsville. This picture not only provides a clear understanding of Jackson's actions, but also of his character and style, as well as his relationships with Robert E. Lee and his own military family.
Dr. Lively has written a detail book about General Jackson last days. Because Dr. Lively is a physician, his insight about Stonewall Jackson's wounding has a lot of merit. I found that Dr. Lively made his point of views easy to understand. I feel this is a must book if you are a fan of Stonewall Jackson. Be prepare to be challenged about Stonewall and his wounding and death. Enjoy. I am now planning a trip to Chancellorsville. I must stop reading books from Savas Beatie because I don't have enough vacation time to visit all of the interesting Civil War Battlefields. Chuck from the Gettysburg area.
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