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Astronomer studied moonlight night Stonewall shot

Friday - 5/10/2013, 9:12am  ET

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- An astronomer says his calculations about the exact position of a full moon one night in 1863 would help explain how Confederate Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was felled by friendly fire in the Civil War.

The legendary Confederate fighter was shot by troops of the 18th North Carolina during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va. Friday marks the 150th anniversary of Jackson's death.

Astronomer Don Olson at Texas State University and a colleague wrote in "Sky & Telescope" magazine that the moon's low position then would have left Jackson in silhouette, difficult to recognize as friend or foe.

Jackson biographer James Robertson says the woods were too thick and dark for the moon to matter. He blames Jackson for the shooting, saying he erred by doing his own scouting of Union lines.

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