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General 'Stonewall' Jackson
(1824 – 1863)

picture of General Stonewall Jackson

Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men during a nighttime reconnoitre shortly after the battle of Chancellorsville (1863) in the American Civil War. His arm was amputated under chloroform anaesthesia. The General rallied, but complications set in. He died of pneumonia eight days later.

As the chloroform started to take effect, his pain evaporated. General Jackson reportedly exclaimed: "What an infinite blessing". He continued to murmur the word "blessing" until he became insensible.

On recovering consciousness, Jackson talked with Captain James Smith, who had been present at the operation. (B.C. Smith, "The Last Illness and Death of General Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson", Virginia Military Institute Alumni Review, Summer 1975). Jackson was a devout Christian. He told Captain Smith: "I have always thought it wrong to administer chloroform in cases where there is a probability of immediate death. It was the most delightful physical sensation I ever experienced. I seem to remember the most delightful music that ever greeted my ears, but I should dislike above all things to enter eternity in such a condition."


Utopian Surgery
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics