Wounding of Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson Death & Funeral
George W. Koontz Letter, May 10, 1863.
Danville Artillery (Capt. Robert Sydney Rice/Rice's Artillery Battery) at the Battle of Chancellorsville, & the wounding of General Stonewall Jackson
George William Koontz was born on February 12, 1839, at Edinburg, Shenandoah County, Virginia. At age 15, Koontz left home to work in a mercantile business in Highland County, where he remained until the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in June 1861 in the Eighth Star New Market Artillery; he was reassigned to the Danville Artillery in September 1862. Koontz served with that unit until he was paroled at Appomattox in April 1865, having reached the rank of Captain by war's end. After the war, he soon returned to Shenandoah County, where he was a farmer, miller, and county treasurer. In 1871 he married Mary C. "Mollie" Newman, also of Shenandoah County. Koontz died in Philadelphia, PA on March 16, 1925; he is buried in Massanutten Cemetery, Woodstock, Virginia.
Full text transcription:
Camp Near Hamilton's Crossing
6 miles South Fredericksburg Va
Sunday Night May 10/63
Your kind & interesting letter was received Tuesday week last, and I would have answered sooner but on Wednesday 29 April we received orders to march, and by 12 o'clock we were on the march for Hamiltons Crossing (20 miles distant from our old Camp at Bowling Green). We traveled on sticking in the mud and pulling out again. We proceeded until 2 or 3 o'clock in the night, when it commenced raining we had to stop. Day light found us sticking in the mud with the road blockaded with wagons & artillery all way to Hamiltons, which was two miles.
Well we got started again and about 10 we were brought up on the Hills, near the old battlefield of the 13 Dec., and were ordered into camp. The enemy had crossed the river, and we were expecting to go to fighting. Shots were exchanged very freely and we expected to be into it next morning (Friday). But Friday morning came, instead of fighting everything was comparatively quiet. We were order[ed] to take up line of march. We did not know where but we did not travel far before we could hear the roar of cannon in the distant and it was reported that the enemy had crossed at Kellys Ford, which was true. We moved on up towards [Orange] on the plank road, and where we camped, our advance had driven the Yankees advance back so I may say that I slept on the edge of a battlefield.
Everything was quiet during the night, but when Saturday morning came it brought with it a thundering of artillery and we were ordered to the front. About 10 the cannonading ceased, and I found that our men had driven the enemy again. I soon discovered that Genl. Jackson was turning the enemies right flank, and about 5 or six we had completely gotten in their rear, drove them from their entrenchments, ran them I suppose 3 or 4 miles. Night coming on brought the fight for the day to a close, but there was firing of infantry and heavy firing of artillery nearly the whole night.
That was another night spent upon the battlefield among dead and wounded. We had as yet lost but very few men and I could not have much sympathy for the Yankees. Soon after dark on Saturday evening was when Genl. Jackson, Hill and Col. Crutchfield our chief of artillery was wounded. Genl. Jackson had to have his left arm amputated. They were wounded by our own men. He was riding between our first and second lines of battle and was mistaken for Yankee Cavalry.
Sunday morning came and the hardest days fight. The Yankees had secured a good position. As soon as day come heavy and desperate firing commenced. We were ordered up pretty soon, and soon we were ordered to take position within 3/4 miles of the enemies batteries under a very heavy rain of shot and shell. We fired about an hour and a half, exhausting nearly all of our ammunition, but we did not cease firing until we drove the enemy from and took possession of their position. We had one man, Corporal James L. Long killed and eight wounded, the greater portion slight wounds. All the boys that you are acquainted with come out alright.
We remained in and about the last day's (Sunday) fighting ground until Wednesday, when we return here. But during this time the enemy had forced our men what was left (1 Division) at Fredericksburg to retire and Genl. Lee had to return and drive them back across the river, which he did on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, so old Fighting Joe made good his escape perhaps never to return. The loss on both sides were very heavy, but I firmly believe the Yankees loss was two to our one if not more. Some say five to one. I never saw the like of knapsacks, the ground was literally covered from where we started them until we stopped. The Fredericksburg fight of Dec. 13 was not a circumstance compared to this, that was nothing more than play. We had miserable bad weather connected with it which made it so more disagreeable. This is called the battle of "Chancellorsville." I have given you as correct account as I could sum up. I guess you will be able to gather more from the papers. I forgot to state that the area of country fought over from beginning to end I think will exceed 20 miles.
I will stop writing of the fight. I guess we will not get back to our old camp at Bowling Green though I would like to go back there. The boys are well. Philip, Milt and Polk send their love to all the family. Milt sends his overcoat, and I send a piece of gray cloth by Mr. Coffman to be sent to you or you can go to town and get it. You will please take care of them and send it down home the first opportunity. I want to have a coat made of the cloth. You will let me know in your next whether you get them or not.
My love to all. It is twelve and I must close. "All quiet along the Rappahannock tonight." It was reported this evening in camp that Genl. Jackson died from his wound, but I don't believe. I hope it is false rumor.
Write soon to your Cousin, Geo. W. Koontz.
Address. G. W. K. Rice's Battery. McIntosh's Battalion. Jackson's Corps. P. S. Excuse this brief and imperfect letter, G.
The original letter is located in the Stonewall Jackson Papers (Manuscript # 102)