National Park Mystery Photo 4 Revealed: Take a Tour Inside the Stonewall Jackson Shrine


Kurt Repanshek's picture

This week's Mystery Photo, of the Stonewall Jackson Shrine, stumped quite a few people and was viewed by more than 1,000. Now let's take a look inside the building.

Either before you view the video, or after, read the following brief history from the National Park Service. You can find additional details at this site.

Born in what is now the state of West Virginia, in the town of Clarksburg, Thomas Jonathan Jackson possessed a strong military background at the outbreak of the Civil War. His training in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, recognition as a hero in the Mexican War, and his experience as an instructor at the Virginia Military Institute justified Jackson's rank of brigadier general at the first major battle of the Civil War near Manassas, Virginia. Upon that field, General Bernard E. Bee proclaimed, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall," and a legend as well as a nickname was born.

Jackson's military feats had elevated him to near mythical proportions, in both North and South, when in the midst of one of his most brilliant maneuvers, he was mistakenly shot by his own men on the night of May 2, 1863 at the The Battle of Chancellorsville. Confederate army commander Robert E. Lee decided that his indispensable and most capable subordinate should recuperate in a safe place well behind friendly lines. He selected this area, Guinea Station, as the best location for Jackson because of its proximity to the railroad to Richmond and its familiarity to the wounded general.

The "Stonewall" Jackson Shrine is the plantation office building where General Jackson died. The office was one of several outbuildings on Thomas C. Chandler's 740-acre plantation named "Fairfield." This typical frame structure saw use primarily by the men for recreation as well as for work. Chandler kept records in the office and one of his sons once practiced medicine there, but with three of the Chandler boys away serving in the Confederate Army, the building no longer witnessed its ante-bellum level of activity.

The office stood bare, except for a few items in storage, when Jackson's ambulance arrived. Although offered the use of the Chandler house, Jackson's doctor and staff officers chose the quiet and private outbuilding as the best place for Jackson to rest after his long ambulance ride. If all went well, the general would soon board a train at Guinea Station and resume his trip to Richmond and the medical expertise available there.

Today, the office is the only plantation structure remaining. The Chandler house burned at some point after the Civil War, and its shell was dismantled in the early 1900's. Once established as an historic "shrine," the office underwent restorations in the 1920's and the 1960's, and still retains about 45% original fabric. The National Park Service has augmented some of the items used during Jackson's stay with other pieces from the era, along with a few reproductions, to recreate the scene of those tragic last days of his life.

Jackson's doctors and staff officers both worked and relaxed in this room during the General's stay. Five different physicians examined Jackson, and these men probably discussed their conclusions here over cups of coffee. Jackson's chief surgeon, Dr. Hunter H. McGuire, was the only physician present the entire six days. McGuire had performed the surgery on Jackson in a field hospital near Chancellorsville where he amputated Jackson's twice wounded left arm and removed a ball from the General's right hand.

Jackson's chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy, had a brother who owned a house near the hospital, and took "Stonewall's" severed limb to his brother's family cemetery for burial. Lacy comforted the pious Jackson, holding devotions with him for the first two days spent at Guinea Station, but the chaplain soon returned to army headquarters. He requested that General Lee send another doctor to relieve the weary McGuire, who tried to provide round-the-clock care. In their conversation about Jackson's condition, Lee told Lacy, "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm."