Friday, May 3, 2013

150th of Chancellorsville: Second Fredericksburg

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The Battle of Chancellorsville by Kurtz and Allison.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the third day of significant fighting during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia -- the day a beaten US General Hooker decided that the Corps left in Falmouth had to save his army!

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L: CS Gen Robert E. Lee   Center: US Gen Joseph Hooker  Right: US Gen. John Sedgwick

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under Robert E. Lee, having dealt a shocking blow to the Union Army of the Potomac on the previous day remained outnumbered some 40,000 to the Northern 70,000 in the area of Chancellorsville.  Cavalry Commander CS General J.E.B. Stuart took command of the Corps of the fallen Stonewall Jackson, and attempted to keep up the pressure on the Union host.  The morning of 3 May, US General Hooker was actually wounded when a cannonball struck the pillar that he was leaning on in the front of the Chancellorsville mansion.  It was symbolic of the blow that had been dealt to his confidence.  Rather than use his superiority of numbers and take the fight to Lee's army, Hooker would turn to the VI Corps left at Falmouth for relief.

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Map of the action at Chancellorsville, Afternoon, 3 May 1863.  Attribution: Map by Hal Jespersen,

The Union VI Corps under the command of US General John Sedgwick would overwhelm the division of CS General Jubal Early left at Fredericksburg -- an action known as the "second Battle of Fredericksburg" that 3 May 1863, but would be halted in its advance towards Chancellorsville in the area of the Salem Church by the division of CS General McLaws.

That would end the hostilities.  Hooker was a beaten man.  The Army of the Potomac would linger, but ultimately the battle was over.  Outnumbered 2 to 1, Robert E. Lee had stopped, defeated, and sent back the Union army.  It had cost him 13,000 men, including the invaluable Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.  The Union army, having lost 17,000 men, was dealt yet another terrible defeat.  It would soon receive a new commanding officer.

As he had in the wake of the victory at Second Manassas in 1862, General Lee would use the momentum of Chancellorsville to take the war North.  With the return of the troops of CS General James Longstreet, Lee would set out for Pennsylvania in the weeks to come...

For more on the battle you might note:
National Park Service Battle Description

Civil War Trust Chancellorsville Page

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Live well!

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