Battle of Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson, Confederate General
Stonewall Jackson, Confederate General. Stock Montage / Getty Images

Dates:

April 30-May 6, 1863

Other Names:

None

Location:

Chancellorsville, Virginia

Key Individuals Involved in the Battle of Chancellorsville:

Union: Major General Joseph Hooker
Confederate: General Robert E. Lee, Major General Thomas J. Jackson

Outcome:

Confederate Victory. 24,000 casualties of which 14,000 were Union soldiers.

Significance of the Battle of Chancellorsville:

This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee’s greatest victory.

At the same time, the South lost one of its greatest strategic minds with the death of Stonewall Jackson.

Overview of the Battle:

On April 27, 1863, Union Major General Joseph Hooker attempted to turn the Confederate left flank by leading the V, XI, and XII Corps across the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg, Virginia. Passing the Rapidan via Ely’s Fords and Germanna, the Union forces concentrated near Chancellorsville, Virginia on April 30 and May 1. The III Corps was to join the army. General John Sedgwick’s VI Corps and Colonel Randall L. Gibbon’s division remained to keep up appearances against the Confederate forces gathered at Fredericksburg. Meanwhile, General Robert E. Lee left a covering force commanded by Major General Jubal Early in Fredericksburg while he marched with the rest of the army to meet the Union forces. As Hooker’s army worked its way toward Fredericksburg, they encountered increasing Confederate resistance.

Fearing through reports of large Confederate force, Hooker ordered the army to stop the advance and concentrate again at Chancellorsville. Hooker adopted a defensive posture which gave Lee the initiative.

On the morning of May 2, Lieutenant General T.J. Jackson directed his corps to move against the Union left flank, which was reported to be separated from the rest.

Fighting was sporadic across the field throughout the day when Jackson’s column reached its destination. At 5:20 pm, Jackson’s line surged forward in an attack that crushed the Union XI Corps. Union troops rallied and were able to resist the attack and even counterattack. Fighting eventually ended due to darkness and disorganization on both sides. During the nighttime reconnaissance, Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire. He was carried from the field. J.E.B. Stuart took temporary command of Jackson’s men.

On May 3, the Confederate forces attacked with both sides of the army, massing their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Union line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew about a mile and entrenched his men making a defensive “U.” His back was  to the river at United States Ford. Union generals Hiram Gregory Berry and Amiel Weeks Whipple and Confederate General Elisha F. Paxton were killed. Stonewall Jackson soon died from his wounds. During the night between May 5-6 Hooker recrossed to the north of the Rappahannock, due to Union reverses at Salem Church. 

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Your Citation
Kelly, Martin. "Battle of Chancellorsville." ThoughtCo, Aug. 15, 2016, thoughtco.com/battle-of-chancellorsville-p2-104415. Kelly, Martin. (2016, August 15). Battle of Chancellorsville. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-chancellorsville-p2-104415 Kelly, Martin. "Battle of Chancellorsville." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-chancellorsville-p2-104415 (accessed November 22, 2017).