previous next

Oil-Cloth coat in which Jackson received his mortal wound.

The story of its loss and recovery.

It fell into the hands of Mr. Joseph Bryan and was sent to General Lee— the correspondence which followed.

One of the most interesting relics of Stonewall Jackson was brought to light in the manner as narrated yesterday by Mr. Joseph Bryan, as follows:

I was sent to my home in Fluvanna county in November, 1864 (upon a wounded furlough), and took the opportunity to visit my sister, who was then refugeeing in Goochland county.

Just across James river, in Powhatan county, near ‘Belmead,’ my father had rented a farm in conjunction with Major J. Horace Lacy, who owned a large part of the battle-field of Chancellorsville.

To this place, as one of the greater security, they had both sent a number of their servants from their places in Spotsylvania and Gloucester counties, which had been overrun by the enemy. I went to this place to see my old colored friends, and there met a Mr. Jones, the overseer, who had come with Major Lacy's servants from the Wilderness, and who was in charge of this place.

It was a rainy day, and some complaint being made of the disagreeable weather, Jones remarked that he had an oil-cloth overcoat which had kept him dry in pouring rain, all day.

I instantly protested against such a treasure being left in the possession of a man who was at home, and insisted that he should sell it to me for use in the field. This he agreed to do, and the price was fixed at $125, for which I gave him an order on my father.

The coat.

The coat being produced was found to be a large oil-cloth coat, the left sleeve of which had been split up on the inside, and also across the breast, and afterward sewed up, while just below the shoulder two bullet-holes had been patched up, and at the end of the sleeve the course of another bullet had been repaired by turning down an additional hem. [325]

As soon as I saw the coat I was struck by the well known fact that Stonewall Jackson had been wounded in exactly that way-two bullets in the left arm, and I remarked upon this coincidence.

Jones stated that he would not be surprised if it was General Jackson's coat, because the man who had brought it to him a day or two after the battle of Chancellorsville had stated that he had gotten it from where General Jackson was wounded, and brought it away to sell, asking for it a peck of meal.

This charge Jones said he considered unreasonable, and had refused to pay it, as the coat was badly mutilated and very bloody, but that he had finally agreed to take it for a gallon of meal, which was accepted, and the coat was thrown into an old out house, along with a large amount of other plunder, blankets, knapsacks and such things as he had gathered from the battle-field. There it lay until the following fall, when, having to make a trip to Orange Courthouse in a spell of threatening weather, Mrs. Jones remembered this coat and repaired it so as to give her husband protection and satisfaction in a continuous and heavy rain.

T. J. Jackson.’

I then opened the coat and examined it more carefully, and found in the inside of the back, in Jackson's own unmistakable handwriting, the name, ‘T. J. Jackson.’ I carried the coat home, but of course never pretended to use it. The only occasion thereafter on which it was used by any one was when it protected the venerable Commodore George N. Hollins, when he was driven from Charlottesville, by Sheridan's cavalry, in March 1865. The coat remained at ‘Carysbrook’ until in December, 1867, when my father forwarded it to General R. E. Lee, at Lexington, Va., narrating the circumstances of his having gotten possession of it, and requesting him to make a proper disposition of so precious a relic. To this General Lee replied (I have his original letter) as follows:

Lexington, Va., 13th December, 1867.
My dear Sir,—I have received the overcoat worn by General T. J. Jackson at the time that he was wounded at the Wilderness. I am very much obliged to you for sending me so interesting a relic of one whose memory is so dear to me. Before making any disposition of it I think it proper to consult Mrs. Jackson, whose wishes on the subject are entitled to consideration. [326]

Mrs. Lee joins me in kindest regards to yourself and family, and

I am very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Lexington Va., 18th January, 1868.
My dear Sir: I informed you in December last that before making any disposition of the overcoat of General T. J. Jackson, I had written to Mrs. Jackson to ascertain her wishes on the subject. In a letter rec'd from her this morning, she says: ‘Such a relic of my precious martyred husband would be extremely painful to me, and yet I cannot reconcile myself to think of its being in any other possession than my own.’

I have, therefore, forwarded it to her with a copy of your letter, that she may see how it was recovered and to whom she is indebted for it.

Hoping that this disposition of a relic familiar to my eyes and painfully interesting to the hearts of all our people may receive your approbation, I am, with great respect, very truly yours,

It has been stated that this coat was obtained by some devoted Scotch admirers of General Jackson, and has been seen by American travelers, with appropriate descriptive inscriptions, in a museum in Glasgow, Scotland. Whether this latter part is correct or not, I am unable to say.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: