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CASE HISTORICAL MUSEUM

CHANCELLORSVILLE

May 2-3, 1863

Chancellorsville was not a city, a village or even a hamlet.  It was a solitary house in the midst of a cultivated clearing, surrounded on all sides by woods, which gave the region the name of wilderness.  It was about twelve miles from Fredericksburg and about six miles from Banks Ford.

   After Burnside's disasterous repulse at Fredericksburg in December 1862 the morel of the Army of the Potomac sank to the lowest point it reached during the war.  President Lincoln need a new General to replase Burnside, he chose General Joseph Hooker.

    Having spent the winter in quarters around Falmouth north of Fredericksburg the Army had enjoyed improved sanitation, diet and morale.  General Hooker begain his movement on Chancellorswville on April 27, 1863.  He had 80,000 men  and his plan was to attack the Confederate flank.  He marched his men to the Rappahannock and moved against the rear of Lee's men.  But then, in a monumental failure of nerve.  Hooker drew back and went on the defense at Chancellorsville.

   This was all Lee needed.  He contrived a battle considered by many historians to be his mastern piece.  In one of the great gambles of the war, Jackson set out on the morning of May 2, a863 with the bulk of the Confederate force, about 26,000 men, on a 14-mile march around the Union right, leaving Lee with only 14,000 men to face General Hooker's 70,000.  The Confederates stormed over the Union's pickets and within half an hour had routed General Howard's unprepared XI Corps.

Stonewall Brigade Charging
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   During the night of 2-3 May 1863, the Union Army reorganized their lines, forming a loop around the Chancellor House.  At first light on May 4 the Confederates moved forward.  By noon the Union's position had become untenable, and General Hooker ordered the entire army to withdraw.  In three days the Union Army was speeding back across the Rappahannock.

   In the fighting, General Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by his pickets.  Lee lamented that he had lost his right arm,

General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
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   Lincoln had urged the boastful Hooker to "give us victories,"  Instead, Lincoln's Army had received another ignominious defeat.