The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

May 10, 2013

Surgeon: Stonewall Jackson death likely pneumonia

(Continued)

Dr. Philip Mackowiak, an internist who organizes the conference each year, said he differs with DuBose on the Jackson case. He reviewed the records and said he believes a recurrent pulmonary emboli destroyed Jackson's lung over time, leading to his death. The medical records don't describe Jackson coughing, as one would expect with pneumonia, Mackowiak said.

It's impossible to know for sure what killed Jackson. But DuBose said modern medicine could have saved him. Jackson's doctor didn't have the tools or knowledge to treat the complications after the shooting.

Robertson, a former Virginia Tech historian and professor who wrote Jackson's biography, said he has been persuaded that sepsis, caused by severe infection, killed Jackson, due to his chaotic rescue and unsanitary conditions. He noted, though, doctors at the time agreed Jackson had pneumonia.

"Unfortunately, medicine in the mid-19th century was still in the dark ages," he said. "Obviously, I'm not overly concerned with how he died. I'm terribly concerned that he died."

Jackson was a pivotal figure and perhaps the most esteemed soldier in the war, Robertson said. He was known for secrecy and speed to execute surprise flank attacks for Gen. Robert E. Lee's strategy.

"He was killed in what may be the high-water mark of the Confederacy," Robertson said. "You can make a case that after Chancellorsville, it's just a question of time for Lee."

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