Special Reports

May 10, 2013

Stonewall Jackson’s death likely pneumonia

Historians and doctors have debated for decades what medical complications caused the death of legendary Confederate fighter Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, felled by friendly fire from his troops during the Civil War.

Historians and doctors have debated for decades what medical complications caused the death of legendary Confederate fighter Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, felled by friendly fire from his troops during the Civil War.

Shot three times while returning from scouting enemy lines in the Virginia wilderness, Jackson was badly wounded in the left arm by one of the large bullets the night of May 2, 1863. Blood gushed from a severed artery. It took at least two hours to get him to a field hospital, and Jackson was dropped twice in a stretcher before his arm was amputated. He died days later at 39.

Scholars have long questioned whether it was an infection or pneumonia that killed Jackson, who gained the nickname “Stonewall” early in the war.

On Friday, the 150th anniversary of Jackson’s death, a trauma surgeon. After reviewing the 1860s files and subsequent reports, University of Maryland surgeon and professor Joseph DuBose told The Associated Press that Jackson most likely died of pneumonia.

DuBose is confirming the original diagnosis given by Jackson’s personal physician, the famed Confederate doctor Hunter H. McGuire.

Jackson is the subject of an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore that reviews medical diagnoses of historical figures.

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