Did the Moon Do In Stonewall Jackson?

Or is this just another loony theory?

Two astronomers from Texas State University think that the angle of the moon had a lot to do with Stonewall’s fatal wounding at Chancellorsville.

If Jackson’s reconnaissance party was riding in bright moonlight, then his own men should have recognized them as they returned from the Union’s side, but Olson and Jasinski say they did not — for good reason.

“The 18th North Carolina was looking to the southeast, directly toward the rising moon,” they said. It stood at “25 degrees above the horizon” at the time, just at the wrong angle.

“The bright moon would’ve silhouetted Jackson and his officers, completely obscuring their identities.”

The Confederate infantrymen likely thought their own men returning were Union cavalrymen on the approach.

“Our astronomical analysis partially absolves the 18th North Carolina from blame for the wounding of Jackson,” Olson says.

Their article appears in this month’s Sky & Telescope magazine (subscription required).


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