Chancellorville
The Battle of Chancellorsville
Civil War Combat

Unflinching, uncompromising and graphic, the images and stories presented here show these battles for what they were, with all the brutality, horror, devastation and desperation

Chancellorsville
Virginia Civil War


American Civil War
April 30-May 6, 1863

On April 27, General Joseph Hooker led the V, IX, and XII Corps on a campaign to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg.
Stonewall
Attack of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville
The cadenced ranks of Lieutenant General Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson's Confederates. The gray-clad Southerners plowed into the Union defense

Passing the Rapidan via Germanna and Ely's Fords, the Federals concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30 and May 1. The III Corps was ordered to join the army via United States Ford. Sedgwick's VI Corps and Gibbon's division remained to demonstrate against the Confederates at Fredericksburg.

In the meantime, Lee left a covering force under General Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the army to confront the Federals. As Hooker's army moved toward Fredericksburg on the Orange Turnpike, they encountered increasing Confederate resistance. Hearing reports of overwhelming Confederate force, Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate again at Chancellorsville.

Pressed closely by Lee's advance, Hooker adopted a defensive posture, thus giving Lee the initiative.  On the morning of May 2, Lieutenant General T.J. Jackson directed his corps on a march against the Federal left flank, which was reported to be  "hanging in the air." Fighting was sporadic on other portions of the field throughout the day, as Jackson's column reached its jump-off point.

At 5:20 pm, Jackson's line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union XI Corps. Federal troops rallied, resisted the advance, and counterattacked. Disorganization on both sides and darkness ended the fighting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men and carried from the field.

J.E.B. Stuart took temporary command of Jackson's Corps. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Federal line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in a defensive "U" with his back to the river at United States Ford. Union generals Berry and Whipple and Confederate general Paxton were killed; Stonewall  Jackson was mortally wounded.

On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses at Salem Church, Hooker recrossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock. This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee's greatest victory.

Result(s): Confederate victory

Location: Spotsylvania County

Campaign: Chancellorsville Campaign (April-May 1863) next battle in campaign    Campaigns

Date(s): April 30-May 6, 1863

Principal Commanders: General Joseph Hooker [US]; General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. Jackson [CS]

Forces Engaged: 154,734 total (US 97,382; CS 57,352)

Estimated Casualties: 24,000 total (US 14,000; CS 10,000)




Chancellorville Campaign
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The winter of 1862-1863 found the Union's Army of the Potomac in sad shape. Bloody battles, multiple defeats, lack of adequate provisions and high desertion rates had left even the hardiest Union soldiers dispirited

Chancellorsville Virginia Battle Map

A. By late in the day of April 30, Genreal Joseph Hooker had moved his army from north of Fredericksburg west across the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers to Chancellorsville. General Robert E. Lee's army had been flanked. Hooker would have 73,000 men in position by May 1.

B. General Lee's force at Fredericksburg consisted of 60,000 men. He left 10,000 there, under General Jubal Early, and on May 1 moved 50,000 west to meet Hooker. Lieut. General Thomas Jackson's corps attacked the Union force but the fighting was not decisive. Hooker, however, withdrew his troops to around Chancellorsville for the night.

C. On May 2 Lee divided his army at Chancellorsville with Jackson taking 26,000 men on a fourteen mile march west and north to hit the Federal right flank. Splitting his force was a big gamble and defied tactical rules. Lee had only 17,000-20,000 men remaining to face Hooker's 73,000 man army. Jackson attacked General Howard's Federal troops causing them to retreat two miles east. Darkness stopped the Confederate pursuit. Jackson was shot by mistake by men of the 18th North Carolina. General Stuart assumed command of Jackson's troops.

Wounded Soldiers after the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863
Wounded Soldiers after the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863
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