People of Faith: General Stonewall Jackson
- Monday, February 03, 2003
In late March , Jackson moved his headquarters from Moss Neck to Thomas Yerby's, near Hamilton Crossing. An outdoor chapel was prepared nearby, and services were held in the open air. Trees were felled and used for benches. There [chaplain] Tucker Lacy led the Sunday morning and evening services and Wednesday prayer meetings. Hymn sings were also held there on Sunday afternoons.
Often General Lee and other officers would worship there with men of Jackson's Second Corps. One April Sunday there were at least one thousand present. Rev. Lacy had never addressed such an imposing and respectful audience: "It was a noble sight to see there those, who led our armies to victory and upon whom the eyes of the nation are turned with admiration and gratitude, melted in tears at the story of the cross and the exhibition of the love of God to the repenting and return sinner."
Sandie Pendleton, one of General Jackson's aides, wrote his mother that Rev. Lacy was very effective in energizing the chaplains. He was an eloquent preacher as well as a charming companion at the staff mess. He was a great teller of stories and was full of witticism that always enlivened conversation.
In April, Jackson's wife Anna and baby Julia were able to come and spend some time with General Jackson at the Yerby's house. Jackson had not yet seen his little daughter and was the most doting of fathers when she came. On April 23, Rev. Lacy baptized little five-month-old Julia.
The following Sunday, the open air chapel was crowded with soldiers. An hour before the service was to begin, all the seats were occupied, and the soldiers were reading religious material and Bibles that had been distributed to them. General Jackson and Anna later arrived, as did Generals Lee, Early, and Kernshaw.
In a strong voice, Rev. Lacy preached to the large congregation a powerful sermon on the rich man and Lazarus, contrasting this world and the next. It was the last sermon General Jackson ever heard, for he was wounded six days later.
On the night of May 2, 1863, General Jackson was seriously wounded; his left arm was amputated in the early morning of the following day. When Rev. Lacy came to the tent where Jackson's arm had been amputated, he exclaimed, "Oh, General, what a calamity." Jackson thanked him and said, "You see me severely wounded, but not depressed, not unhappy. I believe that it has been done according to God's holy will, and I will acquiesce entirely in it. You may think it strange; but you never saw me more perfectly contented than I am today."
With his firm trust in God's providence, Jackson knew his wound was God's will, and he would wait until God revealed His reasons.
Jackson told Lacy that when he was lying wounded on the field and when he was being carried in the ambulance, "I gave myself up into the hands of the Heavenly Father without a fear. It has been a precious experience to me, that I was brought face to face with death, and found all was well." In the following days, at Jackson's request, Lacy had daily devotions at Jackson's bedside at ten o'clock.
The following Sunday, between twenty-five hundred and three thousand assembled for worship at Jackson's headquarters. Before the services, General Lee met Lacy and asked him about General Jackson's condition. When told he was growing weaker by the moment, Lee emotionally replied, "Surely, God will not take him from us, now that we need him so much. Surely he will be spared to us in answer to the many prayers which are offered for him."
For the text of his sermon, Tucker Lacy used Jackson's favorite Scripture: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
All the men were thoughtful and serious as they thought of all that depended on Jackson's recovery. At the end of the sermon, Rev. Lacy said it might be God's will to spare Jackson's life in answer to their prayers, and he called on all to petition the throne of grace for Jackson. At the conclusion of the time of prayer, Lacy said whatever God would do in the event would be for the best.
When Jackson died that day, there was a calm and peace among the soldiers. They accepted Jackson's death as part of divine providence, even if they did not understand it.
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