The story is familiar to many. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson lies dice in one outbuilding near Guiney Station, Virginia. After gift wounded in a friendly fire accident at the battle of Chancellorsville on may 2,1863, Jackson survives amputation of his left arm just to construct a deadly pneumonia four days later. Through his wife, Anna, and also members of his employee gathered near his bed, Jackson drifts in and also out of delirium, muttering disconnected words and sentences. Then, suddenly and also clearly, Jackson utters his renowned last words: “Let united state cross end the river and also rest under the the shade of the trees.” A quick time later on that day, might 10, 1863, Jackson breathes his last.

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Although Jackson’s last words have become legendary, the specific phrasing the his declare is no without part controversy. In 1888, a large obelisk-style monument was inserted on the Chancellorsville battlefield come commemorate the approximate ar of Jackson’s wounding. His “last words” space engraved ~ above one side: “Let us pass over the river and also rest under the the shade of the trees.” Furthermore, in the first authorized biography of Stonewall Jackson, Life and Campaigns of Lieut-Gen. Cutting board J. Jackson (1866), author Robert L. Dabney also quotes Jackson as saying: “Let united state pass over the river….”


In contrast to Dabney’s book, a slightly earlier biography by man Esten Cooke, Stonewall Jackson: A army Biography (1866), papers Jackson’s last words together being “Let united state cross end the river….”

So, walk Jackson “cross” or “pass” over the river? The price is not entirely clear. Dabney’s apparent source for the quote to be Anna Jackson, who provided the author with a detailed account that the event. In she narrative, Anna says her husband’s last audible native were: “Let us pass end the river….” as she was most likely in the closest proximity come Jackson as soon as he make the statement, her testimony carries significant weight. But Anna would later on use the phrase “Let united state cross end the river…” when recounting the event in her own two books, the Life and also Letters of general Thomas J. Jackson (1892) and also Memoirs of Stonewall Jackson by his Widow mary Anna Jackson (1895).

Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, Jackson’s chef physician, is attributed with composing the most famous and eloquent description of the general’s final moments. McGuire’s account – the most oft-cited source of Jackson’s critical words – documents the basic as saying “Let us cross end the river….” Complicating the matter, however, is the truth that McGuire admits in an early handwritten account the he was not actually current at the time Jackson uttered the words.

Presently a smile of ineffable sweetness spread itself over his pale face, and also he said quietly and also with one expression together if of relief, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees “; and also then, there is no pain or the least struggle, his soul passed from earth to the God who gave it.

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 – Hunter Holmes McGuire

On the other hand, the general’s meticulous aide-de-camp – Lieut. James power Smith – to be a witness to Jackson’s last moments. Smith wrote several post-war narratives, each time quoting Jackson as making use of the verb “cross.” Additionally, in ~ one to two weeks of Jackson’s death, several period newspapers, consisting of the Richmond Sentinel, the Richmond day-to-day Dispatch, and also the main Presbyterian, report Jackson’s last words together being: “Let united state cross over the river and also rest under the shade of the trees.”

Despite the discrepancy in the exact wording, several primary accounts check the fact that Jackson go voice some type of the phrase prior to he died. Back we might never understand with certainty whether he actually provided the indigenous “pass” or “cross,” the expression “Let us cross end the river and also rest under the shade of the trees” has become the most widely embraced version that Stonewall Jackson’s critical words.