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Chancellorsville, Battle of

Chancellorsville, Battle of (1863).After the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg, President Abraham Lincoln gave Gen. Joseph Hooker command of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker planned an aggressive spring campaign to turn the left flank of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. On 29 April 1863, Hooker left Gen. John Sedgwick with 40,000 men to hold Lee at Fredericksburg and took 90,000 across the Rappahannock River into the densely wooded Virginia Wilderness.

With only 60,000 men, Lee left Gen. Jubal Early at Fredericksburg with 10,000, and sent Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson's Corps to meet Hooker. When Union and Confederate troops clashed in the woods, Hooker faltered, ordered a halt, and later confessed that “for once I lost confidence in Hooker.”

While Hooker pondered at Chancellorsville, Jackson, at 8:00 A.M. on 1 May, attacked Federals in the Wilderness; noting weak resistance, he concluded Hooker would retreat. Lee disagreed, and wanted to hit the Yankees tangled in the woodland. Frontal attacks were unfeasible. If Hooker's right flank could be turned, Lee would divide his force yet again and attack the enemy front and rear. Scouts sought a screened flanking route.

Rumors of Rebels on the right bothered the Federals throughout that day. Hooker convinced himself that the rumored Rebels proved Lee was retreating. Gen. Oliver O. Howard's XI Corps held Hooker's right and its own flank was unprotected. Many warnings of a flanking attack were ignored at Hooker's headquarters—Lee was retreating.

Early on 2 May, a usable road was reported and Lee agreed to let Jackson take 28,000 men on a flank march, leaving 14,000 to pin Hooker down. About 8:00 A.M., Jackson started a fifteen‐mile trek. His columns crossed part of Hooker's front, were once attacked, but by late afternoon were deployed athwart the Old Turnpike that ran into Chancellorsville behind the Union lines. At 5:15 P.M. Jackson's men attacked, overwhelmed hapless XI Corps outposts, and began “rolling up” Hooker's front. Hooker, occupied by Lee's heavy skirmishing during the afternoon, desperately tried to regroup.

Nightfall and confusion stalled the Confederates and Jackson rode ahead of his lines to find the enemy. Locating the fiercely entrenching Federals, Jackson and aides turned back and, mistaken for Union cavalry, were fired on by a North Carolina regiment. Jackson, mortally wounded, fell from his horse and was carried from the field. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart took command, and hoped to join Lee in a crushing attack on 3 May.

On the 3rd, Sedgwick drove Early from Fredericksburg and tried to reach Chancellorsville. Judging Hooker inert, Lee took 25,000 men to join Early and perhaps capture Sedgwick's corps. Sedgwick barely escaped back across the Rappahannock on 4 May.

With 17,000 casualties, Hooker still outnumbered Lee by two to one; but, psychologically beaten, he retreated across the Rappahannock on 5 May. Lincoln anguished: “My God… What will the country say?”

Chancellorsville was Lee's greatest and costliest triumph. Thirteen thousand Confederates fell, and on 10 May 1863, Stonewall Jackson died.

Bibliography

John Bigelow , The Campaign of Chancellorsville, 1910.
Stephen W. Sears , Chancellorsville, 1998.
Carl Smith (Adam Hook, illus.), Chancellorsville 1863: Jackson's Lightning Strike, 1998.

Frank E. Vandiver

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Chancellorsville, Battle of

CHANCELLORSVILLE, BATTLE OF

CHANCELLORSVILLE, BATTLE OF (1–4 May 1863). In April 1863 Gen. Joseph Hooker, with almost 130,000 men, faced Gen. Robert E. Lee's army of 60,000 that was entrenched near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Beginning 27 April, Hooker moved four army corps to Lee's left flank and sent 20,000 men under John Sedgwick to Lee's right. On 1 May, Hooker advanced across the river beyond Chancellorsville, Virginia, threatening Lee's communications and forcing him to leave 10,000 men at Fredericksburg under Gen. Jubal A. Early and march the remainder of his troops toward Chancellorsville. Late in the day the opposing armies took battle position on lines nearly perpendicular to the Rappahannock. At night Lee and Gen. T. J. ("Stonewall") Jackson devised a daring measure: Jackson, with about 30,000 men, would march around Hooker's right flank, while Lee, with less than 20,000, would hold the front.

The army corps on Hooker's extreme right were unprepared when Jackson, late on 2 May, fell upon them furiously. Gen. O. O. Howard's corps was routed, and only a serious injury to Jackson inflicted by fire from his own troops halted the Confederate attack. On 3 May, a cannonball struck a pillar against which Hooker was leaning. Hooker quickly withdrew his troops to the banks of the river. Lee, meanwhile, turned back to deal with Sedgwick's corps, which had routed the force under Early and was rapidly approaching Chancellorsville. On 4 and 5 May, Lee's veterans forced both Sedgwick and Hooker to withdraw their forces north of the river. Hooker lost 17,287 men and Lee 12,764. But Lee suffered the irreparable loss of Jackson, who after days of intense suffering died of his wounds.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Furgurson, Ernest B. Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Gallagher, Gary W., ed. Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Alfred P.James/a. r.

See alsoArmy of Northern Virginia ; Civil War ; Fredericksburg, Battle of ; Pennsylvania, Invasion of ; Trenches in American Warfare .

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Chancellorsville, battle of

battle of Chancellorsville, May 2–4, 1863, in the American Civil War. Late in Apr., 1863, Joseph Hooker, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, moved against Robert E. Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia (less than half the size of Hooker's) had remained entrenched on the south side of the Rappahannock River after the battle of Fredericksburg. Hooker, with four corps, crossed the river above Fredericksburg and took up a strong position near Chancellorsville, located 10 mi (16 km) W of Fredericksburg; he sent John Sedgwick, with two corps, to cross below Chancellorsville. Although outflanked, Lee did not retreat but, leaving 10,000 men under Jubal A. Early to watch Sedgwick, moved on Hooker, who fell back to a defensive position in the wilderness around Chancellorsville. Lee attacked on May 2: T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson led his 2d Corps on a brilliant 15-mi (24-km) flanking movement against the Union right, while Lee, with his small remaining force, feinted along the rest of the line. Jackson fell upon and routed the surprised Union troops but, unfortunately for the South, was mortally wounded by his own men. The next day the Confederate wings united (James Ewell Brown Stuart succeeding Jackson) and drove Hooker back further. Hooker failed to use his superior forces, but called for Sedgwick, who drove Early from Marye's Heights (May 3) and reached Salem Church, 5 mi (8 km) W of Fredericksburg. There, part of Lee's force joined Early and repulsed Sedgwick (May 4–5). Sedgwick and Hooker then withdrew across the river. Chancellorsville, Lee's last great victory, led to his invasion of the North in the Gettysburg campaign.

See J. Bigelow, The Campaign of Chancellorsville (1910); E. J. Stackpole, Chancellorsville: Lee's Greatest Battle (1958); J. Luvaas and H. W. Nelson, The U.S. Army Guide to the Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg (1989).

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Chancellorsville, Battle of

Chancellorsville, Battle of (2–4 May 1863) American Civil War battle. Union forces under General Joseph Hooker, advancing on Richmond, were opposed by General Robert E. Lee in n Virginia. Outflanked by General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the Union forces were decisively defeated, though Jackson, accidentally shot by his own men, died a week later.

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