J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Battle of Chancellorsville”

Battle of Chancellorsville

Today and tomorrow mark the 155th anniverary of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. To commemorate the anniversary, the Civil War Trust will be posting live from the battlefield on its Facebook page.


Many events are planned, so check it out here.


My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, discusses the battle and its terrible aftermath. Here is an excerpt.


It is well war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it.

—General Pendleton

Personal Recollections of General Lee

David rode Renegade at a walk for a few miles, unsure which direction to follow. The early morning sky and surrounding forest were so dark that he could barely make out the road, let alone anyone foolhardy enough to be out in the unfamiliar countryside…like him. He hoped he wouldn’t encounter any Yankees. The possibility of being apprehended and thrown into a Northern prison was all too real, but his desire to find Jake outweighed his fear. After riding for nearly an hour, he encountered a Rebel soldier on picket duty, who directed him to where he thought O’Neal’s brigade was camped.

“You’re on the Orange Plank Road now,” the picket said, gazing out from under his forage cap. Even though it was still night, David could make out dark circles under the picket’s eyes. “Go up a ways until you reach Brook Road, and keep goin’ till you git to the Orange Turnpike. You’ll see the Hawkins farmstead and the Wilderness Church in front of you. Turn right and keep travelin’ on the turnpike until you see their camp. You should run into them before you reach Chancellorsville.”

“Thank you kindly,” David responded.

The picket turned, walked back to a fence post, and lit a pipe. The glow from his burning tobacco faded into the darkness behind David as he proceeded in the direction that the picket had indicated. Reaching the intersection, he could barely make out the Hawkins farmhouse, which sat back from the road. The chapel, a small, whitewashed frame building, stood closer to the road, giving him a sense of reassurance as he rode by. A zigzagged wooden-post fence lined the turnpike, and behind it in the fields, David thought he could distinguish objects on the ground. He assumed they were bodies of dead Yankees. The smell of burnt timber hung in the air, making the darkness feel even thicker.

He rode another mile or two. At long last, he saw rows of white tents off to the side of the road. The soldiers within them were just beginning to stir, rising with the dawn. He asked one man for directions to O’Neal’s brigade. The soldier pointed without saying a word. Nudging Renegade, David headed off on the route the silent soldier had specified. He saw another foot soldier, asked for the location of O’Neal’s command, and was directed to a different area. Over and over he was misled, until almost an hour and a half later, he finally found O’Neal’s brigade. He didn’t recognize anyone, so he asked one of the soldiers if he knew where Private Jacob Kimball might be. The infantryman shook his head.

“Don’t reckon I know a Kimball,” he stated.

“He’s a new enlistee,” said David.

The soldier stood shaking his head and scratching his dark beard. “We’ll be havin’ roll call in a few minutes. You can find out if he’s here then.”

David swung down from the saddle and tied Renegade. He followed the infantryman to a clearing where several other members of the brigade congregated. A bugler signaled reveille, prompting more tattered soldiers to wander over to the gathering. David looked closely for Jake or one of his friends but didn’t recognize a soul.

The sun peeked out from the horizon, casting long shadows around camp. An eerie, stifling stillness hung in the cold morning air, and a sharp breeze pierced the soldiers bedraggled and soiled clothing. They stood shivering in irregular rows, their breath casting misty puffs into the chilly air.

An officer approached. He glanced over at David before calling out names. “Albright,” he hollered.

“Here,” came a reply.




The officer hesitated, looking around at his soldiers before speaking the name again, but still no one answered. He continued to callout names on the list. Some received responses, some did not.


David’s heart leaped. His eyes darted around the group of soldiers. There was no answer.


Silence. Then the officer continued on to the next name.

“Reckon you ought to check the hospital,” the soldier with the dark beard whispered loudly to David. He heard his name called, and bellowed, “Here!”

David looked down at the trampled ground and drew a heavy sigh. He returned to Renegade and mounted, starting his search again. His heart hurt, but he was determined to find his best friend. As the sun appeared above the horizon, he sent up the same prayer request he’d repeated since the start of the battle.

Please, dear Lord, protect Jake and keep him safe from harm’s way. Amen.

He asked for directions to the army hospital. A short, stocky soldier directed him back to the turnpike toward Chancellorsville. He rode for a few miles, asking several infantrymen if he was headed in the right direction. All of them knew the exact location of the hospital.

By midmorning, he reached the hospital tents marked with bold red flags. He dismounted, tied Renegade out to graze, and after inhaling a breath of courage, went inside one of the tents. Immediately, the smell of death assaulted him. He quickly backed out, nauseated, struggling not to gag, and took in huge gulps of fresh air before attempting to reenter. More cautiously this time, he pulled open the tent flap and stepped inside.

Noble Heroes Would Turn in Their Graves


On May 2, 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee divided his army and sent Stonewall Jackson’s entire corps on a flanking march that routed the Union XI Corps. The battle was a Confederate victory, although the South lost one of its best generals as a result. Jackson was fired upon by his own men, who thought he and his entourage were the enemy. The accident took place at twilight, when visibility was poor, and even though Jackson’s men identified themselves, the North Carolinians who fired upon them thought they were lying. Jackson lost his arm as a result, and died several days later after contracting pneumonia. I wonder what Jackson would say now to all the political correctness going on in the country, primarily in his beloved South?

What everyone seems to be forgetting is that the Confederates fought for something they truly believed in, which was state’s rights. It had nothing to do with slavery, but now, everything honoring these brave men is under attack by politically correct activists and BLM protesters who claim the flags, monuments, and memorials are racist. I think this is BS!

Pelham statue cemetery

Dishonoring American veterans, specifically Confederate veterans, seems to be the norm these days. In Anniston, Alabama, an ordinance was passed that forbids flying the Confederate battle flag at General John Pelham’s statue on Quintard Boulevard. The city stated that the flags are racist and offensive to some people. So what? Everyone finds something offensive. Why cater to a few? That is what is commonly known as discrimination.

A group called the Southern Poverty Law Center released a report that details “publicly supported spaces dedicated to the Confederacy.” The report, titled “Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy,” is a play book that is being used by anti-Confederate groups to substantiate their cause to erase history. The book includes propaganda attempting to associate the Confederacy with racist ideology. It also includes a “community action guide” offering tips and suggestions on how to benefit those who want to destroy all memorials to Confederate heritage. And the Southern Baptist church has been requested to support the discontinuation of displaying Confederate flags. When will it end?

Charleston Shooting-Confederate Symbols-States

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was asked by a Georgetown student last week about the removal of the Mississippi State Flag from the U.S. Capitol. The student said it was “renewed, northern Republican reconstruction” and “the erasure of Southern symbols, as well as ostracization of Southern voters by the GOP.”

Ryan’s response was, “I never looked at it that way.” He continued by saying, “We discussed it, and I thought it was the right thing to do. This symbol does insult. This symbol, I think, does more to divide this country than to unify this country. But I got to tell you, if, in the Capitol, we’re going to have symbols, we’re going to have symbols that unify people, that don’t divide people, and that’s just the way we think.”

Wow. So sensitive! We had better seriously re-think who we elect this fall.


Southern Baptists asked to endorse an end to public display of Confederate battle flag

$PLC finds at least 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces




In Honor of Two Famous Generals

This week marks the birthdays of two famous Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee’s birthday was yesterday, January 19, and Jackson’s birthday is tomorrow, January 21.


Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. He was a son of the famous Revolutionary War hero, “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Robert E. Lee’s upbringing was atypical of Virginia gentry. Although his first home was at Stratford Hall (a beautiful plantation in Virginia that is now a tourist attraction), Lee’s family moved to Alexandria when he was four because his father was thrown into debtor’s prison. Robert E. Lee was accepted into West Point Military Academy in 1825, where he excelled and graduated at the top of his class with no demerits. He served as a military engineer, and married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, at Arlington House.

After fighting in the Mexican War, Lee continued with the United States military until Virginia seceded in April, 1861. He then decided to stay true to his state, so he resigned his commission. He served under Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who eventually gave Lee total control of the Confederate Army. During the first two years of the war, Lee and Jackson fought side-by-side in several battles.

Following his surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Lee served as the President of Washington and Lee University in Lexington. His tenure was short-lived, however. He died on October 12, 1870, and is buried on campus. Lee was a true patriot, hero, and gentleman. He was deeply religious, and was greatly admired and respected by his men, as well as his students and the citizens of Lexington.


Thomas J. Jackson, born on January 21, 1824, was also a deeply religious man. He was sometimes ridiculed for his peculiar, eccentric behavior. Jackson was extremely shy, but after a harsh upbringing, he learned to read, and managed to graduate from West Point in 1846. He fought in the Mexican War, where he met Robert E. Lee. In 1851, Jackson became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, where his teaching methods received criticism. His first wife died in childbirth, but he remarried a few years later.

When the Civil War broke out, Jackson was assigned to Harpers Ferry, where he commanded the “Stonewall Brigade.” His strategic military genius helped win battles at First and Second Manassas, the Peninsula and Valley Campaigns, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. During the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Jackson was mistaken for the enemy by his own men and wounded. His arm was amputated, and it was thought he would recover. But after eight days, he succumbed to pneumonia. He died on May 10, 1863, and is buried in Lexington Cemetery (his left arm is buried at Ellwood Manor).

Lee and Jackson were two of the most prolific generals of the Civil War. Their religious conviction and military genius will always be admired and revered. Both men, along with Jefferson Davis, are featured in the carving on Stone Mountain, Georgia.


General “Stonewall” Jackson: A Man of Unwavering Faith


Thomas Jonathan Jackson was born on January 21, 1824. He acquired the nickname “Stonewall” after General Bee observed his stoic stance at the Battle of First Manassas. General Jackson’s brilliant military career was cut short when, at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863, he was accidentally shot down by his own men. General Jackson was a remarkable commander. He was quiet and shy, but effective as a commander and military genius. The following describes Jackson’s devout faith, as he always strongly believed that God was leading him and his country.

Jackson’s Unwavering Faith

Robert Lewis Dabney was a Confederate Army chaplain and chief of staff to Stonewall Jackson. He gave the eulogy at Jackson’s funeral. The following passage is taken from his speech:

“Such was the foundation of the courage of Jackson. He walked with God, in conscious integrity; and he embraced with all his heart “the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Christ.” His soul, I believe, dwelt habitually in the full assurance that God was his God, and his portion forever. 

“His manly and vigorous faith brought heaven so near, that death had slight terrors for him.– While it would be unjust to charge him with rashness in exposure to danger, yet whenever his sense of duty prompted it, he seemed to risk his person with an absolute indifference to fear. The sense of his responsibilities to his country, and the heat of his mighty spirit in the crisis of battle, might sometimes agitate him vehemently; but never was the most imminent personal peril seen to disturb his equanimity for one moment. 

“It is a striking trait of the impression which he has made upon his countrymen, that while no man could possibly be farther from boasting, it always became the first article of the belief of those subject to his command, that he was of course, a man of perfect courage.”

Source: “True Courage: A Discourse Commemorative of Lieut. General Thomas J. Jackson,” Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898).

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