T.J. CAPPS COMMEMORATION
21 NOVEMBER 1999 SNEAD'S FERRY, NC
Written and Presented by L.J. Kimball
at the Memorial Service for T.J. Capps in Snead's Ferry, North Carolina
On November 21, 1999, the service of Thomas Jefferson Capps to the Confederate States of America will be commemorated by the placement of a military foot stone at his gravesite in Snead's Ferry. Capps, a stalwart Onslow County citizen who achieved moderate success after the war as a farmer and retailer, will always be associated by those familiar with the county's significant contributions to the Civil War with one of the most legendary figures of that great conflict, Stonewall Jackson.
Thomas Jefferson Capps was born in Onslow County on May 16, 1839, and like more than a thousand of his generation from the county, took up arms in support of the Old North State; enlisting in Captain Marquis Lafayette Redd's "Onslow Greys", later known as Company E of the 3rd Regiment North Carolina Troops, on May 13, 1861. During the momentous Battle of Chancellorsville, on the night of May 2, 1863, Capps achieved his moment of fame.
Serving as chief ambulance driver for BrigGen Ralph E. Colston's Brigade, II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, Capps was waiting with the remainder of the brigade train behind the line of battle when he was called forward to retrieve their severely wounded Corps Commander, the almost mythic LtGen Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Jackson had been shot down by his own nervous troops while returning during darkness from a reconnaissance in front of his lines. Capps moved his ambulance forward and, under heavy Union artillery fire, helped retrieve the incapacitated general and remove him from the shell-torn field to the closest hospital, where he was relieved of his precious burden.
Jackson slowly succumbed to pneumonia as a result of his wounds. On may 10, 1863, one of the South's greatest soldiers quietly muttered "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees", closed his eyes, and died. Capps continued to serve the Confederate cause until the last desperate year of that bloody conflict when, during their last stand in the Shenandoah Valley, he was captured as LtGen Jubal Early's decimated army was overrun and scattered by Union forces.
Following the war, Capps returned to Snead's Ferry, raised a loving family, and was appropriately recognized during his lifetime as "one of Onslow's cleverest and most prosperous citizens". And, until his death at 85 on November 4, 1924, he was proud to put on his old uniform to attend ceremonies throughout the state honoring Confederate veterans and welcome aging comrades around his hearth to reminisce of a passing era. In the crackling glow of a warming fire his eyes would gleam again in response to the constant requests to retell the story of that dark night in 1863 in the Wilderness when he became forever known as "the man who took Jackson from the field".
The public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony, which has been organized by the General Lewis A. Armistead Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Uniformed cavalry and infantry reenactors will emplace the Veterans Administration-provided foot stone on his grave during the dedication, beginning at Two O'clock on Sunday at the Four Corners in Snead's Ferry. The grave site is located behind the new Dixon School and is easily accessible by side road from either Highway 172 or 210.
L.J. Kimball 13 November 1999