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Would things have been different? - Thomas Stonewall Jackson - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Fri May 10th, 2013 12:24 pm
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Texas Defender
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  On this date 150 years ago, General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson died from the effects of wounds received during a friendly fire incident at Chancellorsville.

  For the last 150 years, armchair generals have speculated about how his presence at subsequent battles, such as Gettysburg, might have altered the results of those battles. Some have gone so far as to say that the death of General Jackson doomed the CSA to eventual defeat.

  Of course, it can never be known how events might have been different if General Jackson had been present during the two years that the war continued after his death. Since there can be no answer to this question, there can be no end to the speculation.

Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) C.S.A. | This Wee



 Posted: Fri May 10th, 2013 05:15 pm
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Of course things would have been different. Things would have been different if Grant were moved east June 20, 1863 and assumed command of the Army of the Potomac instead of Meade. Or if Johnston had not been wounded at Seven Pines and replaced by Lee. The question to me isn't would they have been different but how different would they have been.

It's one of the things we'll never know, how Jackson would have preformed had he lived. Let's assume Jackson's life remained the same up until May 10, 1863 and then on May 10th Jackson somehow survived. Would we be talking about the same Thomas J. Jackson from May 11, 1863 to June 23, 1865 (yeah, I'm picking the day after Jackson died to the day Stand Waite surrendered for my date range) as from the start of the war to his death? Or would Jackson have been different because of the friendly fire incident and the loss of his arm? Would he have been more aggressive to the point of ignoring what he himself had once said was the reasons for his success. According to Encyclopedia of the American Civil War Jackson said the reasons were:

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 the 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 you 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.


If Jackson became so aggressive that he ignored his own advice for success would he have ended up more likely to loose because he had become too aggressive.

The inverse is also something to consider, Jackson was so rattled by his injuries that he became more timid in his actions. This timidness resulting in his not moving his troops fast enough or even pulling out when things got a little to hot.

There doesn't seem to be anything to suggest either of these would have been the case and and you look at what Dr. McGuire said of his last words it would seem the old Stonewall was still there even just before his death. But we don't know how, or even if, his injuries would have affected him had he survived. Which means we don't know what his actions would have been.



 Posted: Fri May 10th, 2013 06:20 pm
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Hellcat-

  Perhaps I should rephrase the question to better reflect its intended meaning: "Would the presence of General Jackson have changed the outcomes of subsequent battles, and perhaps the war?" Of course, there is no way to know this.

  My guess is that if General Jackson had recovered, his wounds would have made no difference to him in how he conducted his business. He considered himself an instrument of God, and that he was doing what God had ordained for him. He once said: "God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me." I believe that he would have viewed his wounds as a kind of test that God had given him to endure. But, of course, there is no way we can know how the experience might have effected him.

Stonewall Jackson - in His Own Words. Quotes



 Posted: Fri May 10th, 2013 11:07 pm
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Hellcat
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TD I stick by what I said at the start of my first post as I think in part it does go to the intended meaning. Grant wasn't Meade, I have to believe he would have fought Gettysburg differently from Meade and that would have affected the outcome of the battle, and possibly even the outcome of the war. Johnston wasn't Lee, had he been left in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia would McClellan have eventually pulled back from the Penisula as he did with Lee or would he have possibly taken Richmond by that fall? I have to believe that you could take just about any general who was not involved in a particular battle and place them in that battle with the results being they would have an affect on the outcome of the battle. So the question I ask is not if they'd affect the outcome but how much of an effect their presence would cause.

Ewell wasn't Jackson, Hill wasn't Jackson. After Jackson's death we know Lee weakened the Second Corps by splitting it in two and giving half to Ewell and half to Hill as the Third Corps. And prior to this split Hill had been in charge of the entire corps following Chancellorsville. Had either Ewell or Hill commanded almost exactly like Jackson then I think we could better predict how Jackson would have affected the war and future battles had he lived. But they weren't him so we can't use them as a gauge in my opinion. BUT I believe we can readily assume that had Jackson survived Lee would not have created the Third out of a portion of the Second and that Ewell and Hill would have most likely remained division commanders at Gettysburg (though Ewell might not have been at Gettysburg and might have been commanding reserves in defense of Richmond during the battle). DH Hill might not have been detatched for recruiting duty and then to command reserves in defense of Richmond as his brother-in-law might have managed to keep him in his command. And if this were so then Pettigrew might have returned to DH Hill's Division instead of being made a part of Heth's. So we can't tell where Pettigrew's Brigade would have been June 30th.

But let's assume things leading into Gettysburg still largely played out the way they had in reality and we swap Hill and Henry Heth for Jackson and DH Hill. Pettigrew is supposed to have seen Buford's First Cavalry Division near Gettysburg and did not engage. But on returning to Cashtown he informed Hill and Heth of their pesence in Gettysburg, which both dismissed. Had he told Jackson and DH Hill then I'd think Jackson would have sent a small force to determine if Pettigrew was right on June 30th and informed Lee of the possibility that Federal cavalry was in Gettysburg. He might then have waited for Longstreet's Corps to come up so Lee could launch an attack enforce as was what Lee ordered. This would then have given Lee the choice of battlefield and today we might be talking about the Battle of Cashtown instead of Gettysburg.

On his viewing himself as an instrument of God you're right that we have no way of knowing how his injuries would have affected his thinking on this. For all we'll ever know you're right that he saw his injuries as a test from God. But he might have also viewed them as punishment for not being aggressive enough or for being too aggressive. Or he might have viewed it as a warning not to but himself in such a situation again. We can only speculate on how he would have taken it



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