Battle of Chancellorsville , 2-5 May 1863
American Civil War battle widely considered to be Robert E. Lee's finest achievement. After the failure at Fredricksburg, President Lincoln had to find yet another commander for the Army of the Potomac. His next choice was ‘Fighting’ Joe Hooker. Hooker was very confident and very aggressive, but most of this turned out to be pure bluff. At first, he looked to be a most promising appointment. He restored the army’s confidence and then put together one of the best plans to be attempted by the Union armies in Virginia.
Taking advantage of his superior numbers, Hooker planned to split his army into three large units. One part of his army was to remain at Fredericksburg, in an attempt to pin Lee in place there. Another part was to move upstream to make what would look like his main flanking manoeuvre. Finally, one third of the army was to head further upstream on a wide flanking move that would hit the left and rear of Lee’s army.
Hooker’s bold plan began well. On 30 April, the main flanking force had already crossed all of the river barriers in its way, and had reached Chancellorsville. Although Lee had not been fooled by the force at Fredericksburg, on 30 April his army was dangerously exposed to Hooker’s flanking attack.
On 1 May, Hooker had a chance to maul two divisions of Lee’s army, but instead he withdrew into the Wilderness, an area of scrubland around Chancellorsville, where his great advantage in numbers would count for less. Hooker’s judgement was clouded by his fear of a direct fight with Lee’s Confederates. Lee took advantage of his opponents’ worries and launched an attack that led to his most impressive victory. A large part of the Union army was forced into flight by another flanking manoeuvre. However, once again the Union army was able to re-form and hold most of its position. Only after the battle did Hooker decide to withdraw back across the Rappahannock River, conceding the battlefield to Lee.
Chancellorsville raised morale across the Confederacy and increased the already high morale of Lee’s army. However, impressive though it was, the Confederate cause suffered two blows at Chancellorsville. Despite all of Lee’s successes, his losses were just as high as Hookers (1665 killed and 9081 wounded for Lee compared to 1575 killed and 9594 wounded for Hooker). This passed relatively unnoticed at the time. However, one of the Confederate dead after Chancellorsville was Stonewall Jackson, dead of pneumonia after being shot by mistake by some of his own men.
The death of Jackson provides another of those ‘missed chances’ of the Confederate mythology. After Chancellorsville, Lee embarked on his great invasion of Pennsylvania, which was to end at Gettysburg. If he had had Jackson, the myth goes, the Lee would have won at Gettysburg, and the Confederacy would have survived. Whatever the flaws of the Chancellorsville victory, it effectively ended any chances of any significant Federal campaign in the eastern theatre until the following year.
10 Facts: Chancellorsville
The Civil War Trust has been an active and aggressive partner in working to save and preserve key tracts at this endangered battlefield. To expand your appreciation for this battle and the preservation opportunity it presents, please consider these ten facts about the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Fact #1: At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee’s army faced its longest odds
The last meeting of Gens. Lee & Jackson Library of Congress
On April 30, 1863, Maj. Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker crossed the Rappahannock River and maneuvered part of his massive army onto the flank of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. A strong contingent of Hooker’s army threatened the Confederate lines opposite Fredericksburg. Not only did the Federal force greatly outnumber the Confederates – roughly 130,000 to 60,000 – but the Army of the Potomac had been reorganized and revitalized by Joe Hooker over the preceding winter.
Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, constantly facing significant supply challenges, was fairly dispersed in the spring of 1863. Lee’s First Corps commander, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, with roughly 15,000 veterans soldiers , were scavenging for food in the Suffolk, Virginia region and did not return to Lee until after the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Despite being outnumbered more than 2 to 1 and facing strong forces on both of his flanks, Robert E. Lee decided to take a far riskier path –attack this new massive foe and keep him at a disadvantage by fighting in the Wilderness of Virginia.
Fact #2: Despite Hooker’s successful flanking movement, Lee seized the initiative and held it for two full months
Hooker’s well-executed crossing of the Rappahannock led many senior Federal officers to believe that Lee’s only course of action was to retreat southwards towards Richmond. Maj. Gen. George Meade exclaimed “Hurrah for Old Joe. We’re on Lee’s flank and he doesn’t know it.”
With the bulk of his army safely positioned around the Chancellorsville crossroads, Hooker moved on May 1, 1863, to move eastward and out of the Wilderness. The ground to the east was far more open, affording the Federal army a better means to fully employ its significant numerical strength.
Before the Yankees could clear the woods, however, General Stonewall Jackson’s soldiers plowed into them on the Orange Turnpike. Jackson’s troops also appeared on the Union right flank and Hooker ordered a general retreat from this open ground after a sharp, brief battle. The First Day at Chancellorsville was a small action whose significance greatly exceeded its scale. The next day, deep within the tangled Wilderness, Hooker’s inert army failed to detect Lee’s bold plan to use the wooded roads to the south to maneuver a powerful column onto their right. On open ground, this kind of maneuver would have been impossible to execute.
This illustration by Edwin Forbes shows Union soldiers marching towards Chancellorsville on April 30, 1863. Hooker's crossing of the Rappahannock was well executed, but come May 1, 1863 he would surrender the initiative to Robert E. Lee. Library of Congress
Fact #3: Lee broke a central maxim of warfare to achieve his famous victory at Chancellorsville
Carl von Clausewitz, in his famous military treatise On War, states that the “first principle [of warfare] is to act concentrated as much as possible.” Dividing one’s force in the face of a numerically superior enemy was considered to be a sure path to defeat.
After the first day’s sparring on May 1, 1863, Robert E. Lee and his trusted subordinate Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson met at a bivouac in the woods and devised one of the boldest actions of the entire Civil War. Jackson, with almost 30,000 men and 110 cannon, would march 12 miles and fall upon the Federal army’s right flank. During this maneuver, Jackson’s force would be isolated from the rest of Lee’s army. If Hooker’s army became aware of this division, Lee’s forces could face great peril.
In hindsight, we know that Jackson’s secret flank march was a tremendous success for the Confederates, but at the time it was a high stakes gamble that depended upon subterfuge and bluff.
Fact #4: The Federal Eleventh Corps, largely filled with German-Americans, was made into a scapegoat for the defeat at Chancellorsville
Adolph von Steinwehr Library of Congress
With Jackson’s 30,000 men now poised to unleash their attack, their primary target was the Union Eleventh Corps which was holding the far right of the Union position at Chancellorsville. Unaware of the looming danger on their flank, Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard’s men were swiftly routed by the Confederates pouring out of the nearby woods.
The Union Eleventh Corps’ ranks were heavily populated by German-Americans and other recent European immigrants. Brigades within the corps were led by men with names like Schimmelfennig, Buschbeck, von Gilsa, and Kryzanowski.
In an Army of the Potomac which harbored general mistrust of “foreigners”, the routed Eleventh Corps became a convenient scapegoat for the overall defeat at Chancellorsville. But as noted Civil War historian Bob Krick highlights, “No corps in the army—or any army—could have stood up to the might of [Jackson’s] attack, combined as it was with overwhelming surprise, and coming from the worst possible tangent relative to their positions. They did not deserve calumny for the result…”
Unfortunately for “The Flying Dutchman” of the Eleventh Corps, their streak of bad luck would continue at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. But after being reassigned to the Western Theater, many of these Chancellorsville veterans proved their fighting worth in the famous storming of Missionary Ridge in November of 1863 and on other famous fields.
Fact #5: Stonewall Jackson was wounded by his own men on the night of May 2, 1863
Guided by the light of a full moon, and eager to locate a new avenue of attack, Stonewall Jackson and eight other Confederate horsemen rode forward through the dense woods and thickets on the night of May 2, 1863. Returning towards the Confederate lines, Jackson’s party came under fire from men of the 18 th North Carolina who were tired and on edge after a long day of marching and combat. Despite being at extreme range of the 18 th North Carolina’s smoothbore muskets, Stonewall Jackson was struck by three different round balls – one in his raised right hand, two others in his left arm.
During Jackson’s evacuation to the rear, his litter carriers, stumbling through the dark forest, dropped the general twice to the ground, further exacerbating Jackson’s loss of blood. Later that night, Jackson’s left arm was amputated and he was subsequently evacuated to Guinea Station where he died of pneumonia eight days later.
Despite Chancellorsville being one of the most brilliant Confederate victories of the entire Civil War, the loss of Stonewall Jackson proved to be a heavy blow to the fortunes of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Fact #6: The Union evacuation of Hazel Grove proved to be the key to Confederate victory on May 3, 1863
Despite the stunning blow delivered by Stonewall Jackson’s forces on May 2, 1863, the Union army remained the far larger force and it occupied many of the most strategic spots on the battlefield.
Among the most important, and often called the “key” to the Chancellorsville Battlefield was a high, open plateau named Hazel Grove. Hazel Grove, with its direct view of the Union positions at Fairview and Chancellorsville, was the perfect location for Confederate artillery looking to assail the very heart of the Federal position.
During the night of May 2, Col. Edward Porter Alexander of Georgia discovered Hazel Grove during an evening scouting mission. He persuaded acting corps commander, Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart, to make its capture the first priority. At dawn on May 3rd, Confederates under the command of Brig. Gen. James J. Archer charged up the slope of Hazel Grove and captured four artillery pieces and roughly 100 men – this small Union force was already in the process of retreating from this important high ground, however. Hooker, inexplicably, had ordered the abandonment of this key position – a significant error for which he and his army would pay.
Employing the new system of artillery battalions—clustering batteries into larger groups— Alexander filled Hazel Grove with 30 cannons and turned them loose on Hooker's lines.
The sheer weight of artillery fire from Hazel Grove, coupled with more guns along the Orange Turnpike, was too much for the Union troops around the Chancellorsville clearing. The clearing was abandoned and Confederate troops and their hero, Robert E. Lee, rode into the clearing, victors of the day.
A Confederate cannon atop Hazel Grove looks towards the Union positions at Fairview. The Confederate capture of the Hazel Grove plateau and its use as an artillery position was one of the decisive factors leading to the Confederate triumph on May 3, 1863. Rob Shenk
Fact #7: The Battle of Chancellorsville, at its time, was the bloodiest battle in American history
At its conclusion on May 6, 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville became the bloodiest battle in American history. The 30,764 combined casualties eclipsed the losses suffered at well-known battles such as Shiloh (23,746), Second Manassas (22,180), Antietam (22,717), and Stones River (23,515).
By far the bloodiest day of the battle was May 3, 1863 when Lee’s Confederates were forced to attack a larger, now-alerted Union foe, largely positioned in prepared defenses. The aggressive fighting at places like Salem Church produced more casualties than the entire Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run).
Chancellorsville’s title of bloodiest battle in American history would be short-lived, however. From Chancellorsville, Lee began his journey towards Gettysburg and the epic fighting to come on July 1-3, 1863. But even at the end of the American Civil War, Chancellorsville was still ranked as the fourth bloodiest battle of the Civil War, after Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Spotsylvania Courthouse.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Fact #8: Joseph Hooker was the second consecutive commander of the Army of the Potomac to be relieved after just one major battle
After the debacle at Chancellorsville, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker pulled his Army of the Potomac back across the Rappahannock River. For the next month, the Rappahannock acted as the dividing line between the two opposing armies. But come June 1863, Lee and his Army of the Northern Virginia began its movement to the north and its eventual crossing into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Concerned about Hooker’s poor showing at Chancellorsville, evidence of growing distrust in the Federal ranks, and tired of Hooker’s demands and complaints, President Abraham Lincoln accepted Joe Hooker’s resignation on June 28, 1863.
Like Generals Irvin McDowell, John Pope, and Ambrose Burnside before him, Joe Hooker’s tenure as the commander of the Army of the Potomac lasted only one major battle. Just three days before the fateful Battle of Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. George Meade was asked to take command.
Fact #9: The famous novel Red Badge of Courage is almost certainly based upon the Battle of Chancellorsville
In 1895, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane was published. Crane, who was born after the Civil War, reportedly used the Battle of Chancellorsville as his setting and drew on the accounts and stories of veterans from the 124 th New York Volunteers – the “Orange Blossoms.” Many of the names of the characters and the sequences of the battle actions closely parallel the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Crane’s novel, which highlights the personal fears, hope, and human struggles of Private Fleming, became a popular best seller and has never been out of print since its publication. In 1951, a movie was made from the book and starred World War II hero Audie Murphy.
Fact #10: None of the battlefield land associated with Jackson's Flank Attack had been saved until the 1990s
It’s hard to believe that the portion of the Chancellorsville Battlefield most closely associated with Jackson’s famous flank attack was entirely unprotected all the way up to the 1990s. As fast moving urban development started to impact this once-rural region, the urgency to acquire and preserve this section of the battlefield dramatically increased.
The first tracts associated with this part of the battlefield were saved by the National Park Service in 1990 after a boundary expansion was approved. After that preservation groups like the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust and the Civil War Trust stepped in to acquire key tracts.
In 2009 the Civil War Trust made its biggest acquisition in this region when it acquired the 85-acre Wagner Tract. In 2013, the Civil War Trust successfully worked with the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust to save an additional 37 acres at Chancellorsville.
Significant portions of the Chancellorsville Battlefield remain unprotected today.
Civil War Trust Trustee John Nau and American Battlefield Trust President Jim Lighthizer accepting a check from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in support of the preservation of the 85-acre Wagner Tract on the Chancellorsville Battlefield. The American Battlefield Trust has worked to save more than 400 acres of this historic battlefield. Rob Shenk
Explore articles from the History Net archives about the Battle Of Chancellorsville
Hooker left the VI Corps and a division to make a demonstration against the Confederate position at Fredericksburg to cover his movement with the rest of the army to cross the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers at Germanna and Ely’s fords. Lee responded by dividing his army, leaving Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in charge of a force at Fredericksburg, and taking the rest to confront Hooker near a mansion that the owner had named Chancellorsville. Hooker took up defensive positions, and Lee again divided his own army, sending Jackson on march around the Union’s left flank. Around 5:30 p.m. on May 2, members of the XI Corps in the Army of the Potomac were settling down to fix supper when Jackson’s Rebels burst from the woods, routing them. The Union army counterattacked, and the day ended with both sides disorganized in an area of tangled wilderness. Jackson, riding out with his staff to reconnoiter in preparation for the next day’s battle, was wounded by his own men. He would die several days later, following amputation of his left arm.
The Confederates resumed the offensive on May 3, forcing Hooker’s army into a defensive posture near the fords that were their only means of retreat. Meanwhile, Lee received word that the Federals had crossed the Rappahannock and were advancing on him from the east. Splitting his army yet again, he met and defeated this new threat near Salem Church.
All told, the Union suffered 14,000 casualties, the Confederates 10,000&mdashbut the loss of Jackson was a high price to pay, a price that would become obvious before summer was over.
Many consider Chancellorsville to be Lee’s greatest victory. It set the stage for his second invasion of the North and the Battle of Gettysburg.
Banner image One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania regiment at Falmouth, Va., April 24, 1863, nearly annihilated at battle of Chancellorsville, created by Andrew J. Russell, Library of Congress.
Battle of Chancellorsville , 2-5 May 1863 - History
In January 1863 the Union army once again tried to cross the Rappahannock and attacked the Confederate Army. Initially the attacked was met with success, but Lee's superior leadership and the unwillingness of the Union forces to sustain an encounter resutled in another Union defeat.
After the debacle of Fredericksburg, Burnside in January made an additional attempt to cross the Rappahannock, which was now heavily fortified. On January 19th the army of the Potomac broke camp and headed upriver. The weather turned terrible, and after two days Burnside's was forced to call off the march, which was terribly bogged in the mud. It became known as the Mud march, and marked another low for the Army of the Potomac. On January 25th Lincoln replaced Burnside as the commander of the army of the Potomac, immediately replacing him with Joseph Hooker.
Hooker immediately reorganized the army, created an independent cavalry division, and most important reorganized the army. As one veteran recalled many years later
" From the commissary came less whiskey for the officers and better rations, including vegetable, for the men. Hospitals were renovated, new ones built, drunken surgeons discharged, sanitary supplies furnished, and the sick no longer left to suffer and die without proper care and attention. Officers and men who from incompetence or disability could be of no further use to the services were allowed to resign or were discharged, and those who were playing sick in the hospitals were sent to their regiments for duty."
Moral rebounded, but that was obviously only a start. Hooker needed to attack Lee forces. He developed a plan of attack, which he kept secret from everyone, so as not to alert Lee of his plans. His plans called for dividing his army in two. The first half would secretly move North and cross the river getting behind Lee, while the other half under Sedgwick would cross south of the city to fool Lee into thinking that this was the main attack.
The army of the Potomac broke camp on the 27th of April, and headed North. They successfully moved North without being observed by the confederates and crossed the river at Kelly's ford. At the same time Sedgwick began crossing South of the city.
The troops North quickly moved in and captured Chancellorsville, but instead of keeping moving under the orders from Hookers they then stopped to regroup before continuing. By the end of the 30th Lee had decided that Sedgwick's crossing to the South of town was merely a feint, and the main attack was coming to the North. Lee ordered his main forces North. They moved North on the morning of the first. That day, Hooker's forces- moved out as well. Slocum's forces were to advance along Plank road on the right, supported by Howard's corp., Meade was to advance on the left supported by Couch's corps. The roads led through an area that was known as the wilderness, thick forest that was almost impenetrable. The goal was to make it through the woods to the open, where the Unions numerical strength would be effective. The going was not easy and a regular army division commanded by George Sykes was forced to withdraw when it came under withering fire. The division regrouped and receive reinforcements but before it could resume its advance it received orders from Hooker to pull back. Hooker seems to have lost his nerve, and he pulled all of the army back to their starting point of the morning. Meanwhile Lee had arrived on the scene. He and Jackson, after scouting out the Union defensive lines concluded that a direct attack on them would fail, instead it was decided that Jackson commanding 25,000 men would make a large flanking move and hit the Union armies Northern flank. Jackson moved off, and although his movement was observed by Union forces, Hooker concluded that it was the beginning of a confederate withdrawal. Thus despite mounting evidence that Jackson was going to attack the North flank of the army no preparations were made, nor was Lee almost empty lines attacked. At 6 PM on May 2nd, Jackson launched his attack on the unsuspecting Union flank. It fell back in confusion. Meanwhile Jackson himself was wounded by his own men. He died a few days later.
Hooker ordered the forces of Sedgwick to attack from the south and on the morning they successfully stormed the Marye Heights, defended this time only by Early's division, which was forced back. Sedgwick was ordered to advance and attack Lee's main body from his rear. Unfortunately for Sedgwick the inactivity of Hookers forces around Chancellorsville allowed Lee to turn his army and face Sedgwick, who was fought to a standstill. Sedgwick retired back across the Rappahannock. The next day before the Confederates could renew there attack, the Union forces withdrew from there beachhead across the Rappahannock. Once again Lees superior generalship and union incompetence had bested a Union forces twice his size.
Map Plan of the battle of Chancellorsville. Virginia position, 5 p.m., 2nd May 1863.
The maps in the Map Collections materials were either published prior to 1922, produced by the United States government, or both (see catalogue records that accompany each map for information regarding date of publication and source). The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17 of the United States Code) or any other restrictions in the Map Collection materials.
Note that the written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.
Credit Line: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
What You Need to Know:
Battle of Chancellorsville was the greatest Confederate victory of the war, won against the longest odds, but for which the Confederacy paid an enormous price in the death of Stonewall Jackson, Lee’s most trusted and effective lieutenant. In the gloomy dusk, scouting ahead of his lines to see how he could capitalize on his smashing success, Jackson and his staff officers were shot by Confederate troopers who mistook them for a Federal patrol.
The Battle of Chancellorsville is considered Robert E. Lee’s masterpiece. His reputation as a military genius was sealed by fighting an incredibly successful offensive battle despite being outnumbered 2-to-1 and launching attacks on multiple fronts.
After another humiliating Union defeat at Fredericksburg, On January 26, Lincoln replaced Gen. Ambrose Burnside with Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker as the new commander of the Army of the Potomac, with 120,000 troops. Hooker’s plan was to send his cavalry on a raid behind Lee to cut off Lee’s communication with Richmond. He would leave 40,000 troops in front of Lee near Fredericksburg, and Hooker himself would march up the Rappahannock River and try to go around Lee’s left. If he didn’t defeat Lee at that time, he would at least force Lee to retreat. But Lee managed to achieve victory despite splitting up his forces into vastly inferior numbers and fighting the Union on multiple fronts. The outcome was 17,000 Federal casualties to 13,000 Confederates.
Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see more maps related to this battle.
Battle of Chancellorsville , 2-5 May 1863 - History
The Battle of Chancellorsville took place in Spotysylvania County in Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle started on April 30, 1863 and finished on May 6, and marked the most significant encounter between the opposing forces in what was known as the Chancellorsville Campaign.
The Chancellorsville Campaign brought the Union Army of the Potomac under Major General Joseph Hooker up against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee.
Events Leading up to the Battle
The battle was one of several that took place as a result of the Federal objective of trying to take the Confederate capital, Richmond, in Virginia. The Union army had been defeated in four major encounters with the same objective in the previous two years.
As a result of these defeats, morale was low and the Union army was suffering from a high desertion rate. Major General Ambrose Burnside wanted to implement widespread changes in the Army of the Potomac by removing many if its most senior officers, but failed to get the necessary approval from Congress. Disillusioned, he offered his resignation to the President, Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln persuaded him to accept a different command.
Burnside’s replacement as head of the Army of the Potomac was Hooker, who undertook systematic changes aimed at restoring morale and improving efficiency. He addressed problems with the living conditions of the troops, improved the quality of the army food, introduced better drills and training techniques, and streamlined many administrative functions.
Any attempt to take Richmond involved the Union army crossing the Rappahannock River and dislodging the Confederate forces from their fortifications there, and Hooker had realized from the previous failed campaigns that using brute force was not a tactic that would work.
Hooker set about assembling his troops at Falmouth, and worked out a plan to overcome the Rebel forces.
Hooker’s plan was to send a large force to cross the river much further upstream and mount an assault on the Confederates from the rear. It was hoped this action would cause the Confederate army to retreat, because their supply lines would be cut.
On April 13, he dispatched 10,000 troops under the command of Major General George Stoneman to cross the river at Sulphur Spring, but the move was thwarted by heavy rains, which made the crossing impossible.
Hooker modified the plan, and this time set about launching an attack on the Confederates from the front and rear. Stoneman was to retry his crossing, while 42,000 men would simultaneously try to cross the river upstream at Kelly’s Ford, and proceed to Chancellorsville.
A further 40,000 troops under the command of John Sedgwick would attempt to cross the Rappahannock south of Fredericksburg and launch an assault on the Confederates’ right flank, a section commanded by Stonewall Jackson.
The remainder of his army, numbering some 25,000 men would remain at the Falmouth camp, and act as a diversionary force to conceal the pincer movement from the Confederates.
The river crossings were attempted between April 27 and 30 and were successful, meeting little opposition from the Rebels. As a result, Hooker had assembled a total force of 70,000 at Chancellorsville by May 1.
Despite his army being outnumbered by more than two to one, Lee decided to split his force in two, and mount an offensive against the Union soldiers. Heavy fog helped to confuse the Union army about what the Confederates were doing.
The first engagement of the battle took place just before midday on May 1. Despite his numerical superiority, Hooker adopted a conservative approach. He felt his best chance of success was to maintain a defensive position around Chancellorsville, hoping the Confederates would be drawn into attacking his positions.
While the Union army was relatively well-protected on its left flank and in its center, the right flank was less well fortified. In addition, Lee was made aware of a road through woodland that would enable his troops to maneuver into position to attack the Union right flank, and that the trees would conceal their movements from Union lookouts. Lee ordered Stonewall Jackson to undertake the flanking maneuver.
The maneuver was more successful than Lee could have hoped for. Not only did the Union army fail to recognize the danger and spot the Confederate soldiers moving into position, they were having dinner when Jackson launched his attack from the woods, leading to a Union rout.
On May 2, Jackson was keen to press home his advantage, so he set out on a scouting mission to see whether a nighttime assault on the Federal troops was a possibility. When the scouting party turned back towards the Confederate lines, some of their own troops mistook them for Union soldiers and opened fire. Jackson was hit three times, and had to have his arm amputated. He then succumbed to an infection that was to prove fatal, and he died on May 10, in what was to be a major blow to the Confederate cause.
On May 3, Hooker was wounded by an artillery shell, but insisted on staying in overall command of his army. Many military experts feel this decision was critical, and that Hooker’s performance in the rest of the battle showed that his ability to make good decisions was affected by his injury.
Hooker’s defensive approach in the battle allowed Lee to send reinforcements to his troops near Fredericksburg, and they managed to push the Union soldiers under Sedgwick back across the river in the early hours of May 5.
Realizing that Sedgwick’s men could not now join him at Chancelorsvile, Hooker decided to retreat and began withdrawing his troops on the night of May 5. Meanwhile, Stoneman and his soldiers, who had not managed to launch any of the attacks that Hooker’s plan called for, also withdrew.
The Union army had a total of 17,197 casualties. 1,606 men were killed in the battle, 9,762 were wounded and 5,919 were captured or reported missing. Confederate casualties totaled 13,303, with 1,665 killed, 9,081 wounded and 2,018 missing or taken prisoner.
While the total casualty figures for both sides were similar, the percentage losses for the Confederates were significantly higher, since they had less than half the number of Union troops in the field. On top of that, they had lost one of their most aggressive commanders, Stonewall Jackson.
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 𠇏or 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.
John Bigelow , The Campaign of Chancellorsville , 1910.
Stephen W. Sears , Chancellorsville , 1998.
Carl Smith (Adam Hook, illus.), Chancellorsville 1863: Jackson's Lightning Strike , 1998.
American Civil War
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major Civil War battle that took place near the small town of Chancellorsville, Virginia. The South defeated the North despite having a much smaller army due to the superior tactics of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
When did it take place?
The battle took place over several days in the Spring of 1863 from April 30th to May 6th with the fiercest fighting taking place on May 3rd.
Who were the commanders?
The Confederate Army was led by General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Other Confederate commanders included Stonewall Jackson, A.P. Hill, and J.E.B. Stuart.
The Union Army was led by General Joseph Hooker who had been recently appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac. Other Union commanders included George Stoneman, Oliver Howard, and George Meade.
General Robert E. Lee's army was dug into the hills near Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was guarding the way to the Confederate capital of Richmond. Union general Joseph Hooker put together a plan to attack Lee and force him to retreat. He would take part of his army and sneak up on Lee from the side while the rest of his army kept Lee busy from the front. Hooker felt sure of his plan and his victory. He had an overwhelming force of 130,000 Union soldiers and Lee only had 60,000 Confederates.
The battle started out on April 30, 1863 as Union General Hooker had planned. He led a large number of troops to the side of the Confederate Army. He had them trapped. Surely Robert E. Lee would retreat.
Then things started to go wrong. Instead of retreating, Lee attacked Hooker's army at Chancellorsville. The Confederate army quickly split into two forces. Lee sent half of his soldiers, led by General Stonewall Jackson, to attack Hooker's army from the side. The Confederates continued to attack over the next several days. General Lee constantly maneuvered his fewer forces to keep them from getting overwhelmed by the larger Union army.
After several days of fighting, the Union Army was forced to retreat on May 7, 1863. The battle was over and the Confederates had won.
The Confederates won the battle. Despite having fewer than half the number of soldiers, they did not have to retreat and they had inflicted 17,000 casualties on the Union while suffering 13,000 of their own.
Even though they had won the battle, the Confederate Army was considerably weakened. They lost 13,000 of their 60,000 men, which was a large percentage of their soldiers. They also lost one of their best generals when Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee left Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early to hold Fredericksburg on May 1, while he marched west with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia to deal with Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's main thrust at Chancellorsville with four corps of the Army of the Potomac. Early had his own division, along with William Barksdale's brigade from McLaws' division and cannons from the artillery reserve Early was assisted by Brigadier General William Pendleton of the artillery reserve. Cadmus Wilcox's brigade arrived on May 3, increasing Early's strength to 12,000 men and 45 cannons. Most of the Confederate force was deployed south of Fredericksburg.
Early was ordered by Lee to watch the remaining Union force near Fredericksburg if he was attacked and defeated, he was to retreat southward to protect the Confederate supply lines. If the Union force moved to reinforce Hooker, then Early was to leave a covering force and rejoin Lee with the remainder of his troops.  On May 2, misunderstanding his orders, Early left one brigade at Fredericksburg and started the rest of his force towards Chancellorsville Lee corrected the misunderstanding and Early then returned to his positions that night before Sedgwick discovered the Confederate retreat. 
Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick was left near Fredericksburg with the VI Corps, the I Corps, and the II Corps division of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon. Hooker's plan called for Sedgwick to demonstrate near the city in order to deceive Lee about the Union plan. The VI and II Corps seized control of several crossings on April 29, laying down pontoon bridges in the early morning hours, and the divisions of William T. H. Brooks and James S. Wadsworth crossed the river. The I Corps was ordered to reinforce the main army at Chancellorsville during the night of May 1. During the evening of May 2, Sedgwick received orders to attack Early with his remaining forces. 
Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1 and 2)
On April 27, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker led the V, XI, and XII Corps on a campaign to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg.
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 Maj. Gen. Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the army to confront the Federals.
Location: Spotsylvania County
Campaign: Chancellorsville Campaign (April-May 1863)
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker [US] Gen. Robert E. Lee and Maj. Gen. 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)
Description: On April 27, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker led the V, XI, and XII Corps on a campaign to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg. 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 Maj. Gen. 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, Lt. Gen. 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
Preservation Priority: I.2 (Class A)
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville and the area from there to the east at Fredericksburg. The battle pitted Union Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's Army of the Potomac against an army half its size, Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. It is known as Lee's "perfect battle" because of his risky but successful division of his army in the presence of a much larger enemy force. Lee's audacity and Hooker's timid performance in combat combined to result in a significant Union defeat. The Confederate victory was tempered by the mortal wounding of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to friendly fire, a loss that Lee likened to "losing my right arm."
The Chancellorsville campaign began with the crossing of the Rappahannock River by the Union army on the morning of April 27, 1863. Crossing the Rapidan River via Germanna and Ely's Fords, the Federals concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30 and May 1. Heavy fighting began on May 1 and did not end until the Union forces retreated across the river on the night of May 5–6.
In the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, the basic offensive plan for the Union had been to advance and seize the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia. In the first two years of the war, four major attempts had failed: the first foundered just miles away from Washington, D.C., at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in July 1861 Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign took an amphibious approach, landing his Army of the Potomac on the Virginia Peninsula in the spring of 1862 and coming within 6 miles (9.7 km) of Richmond before being turned back by Gen. Robert E. Lee in the Seven Days Battles that summer, Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia was defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run in December 1862, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside commanded the Army of the Potomac and attempted to reach Richmond by way of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he was defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg. (This string of Union defeats was interrupted in September 1862 when Lee moved into Maryland and his campaign was defeated by McClellan at the Battle of Antietam, but this represented no threat to Richmond.) President Abraham Lincoln became convinced that the appropriate objective for his army was actually Robert E. Lee's army, not a geographic features such as a capital city, but he and his generals knew that the most reliable way to bring Lee to a decisive battle was to threaten his capital. Lincoln tried a fifth time with a new general in 1863, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, a man with a pugnacious reputation who had performed well in previous subordinate commands.
The Chancellorsville campaign was potentially one of the most lopsided clashes of the war. At the start of the campaign the Union army had an effective fighting force of 133,868 men on the field of battle the Confederate army numbered less than half that figure, at 60,892. Furthermore, the Union forces were much better supplied and were well-rested after several months of inactivity. Lee's forces, on the other hand, were poorly provisioned and were scattered all over the state of Virginia. Some 15,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia's First Corps, under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, had previously been detached and stationed near Norfolk in order to block a potential threat to Richmond from Federal troops stationed at Fort Monroe and Newport News on the Peninsula, as well as at Norfolk and Suffolk. In light of the continued Federal inactivity, by late March Longstreet's primary assignment became that of acting as the Army of Northern Virginia's new commissary, which meant requisitioning provisions for Lee's forces from the farmers and planters of North Carolina and Virginia. As a result of this the two divisions of Maj. Gen John Bell Hood and Brig. Gen. George Pickett were 130 miles (210 km) away from Lee's army and would take a week or more to reach it in an emergency. After nearly a year of campaigning, allowing these troops to slip away from his immediate control was Lee's gravest miscalculation. Although he hoped to be able to call on them, these men would not arrive in time to aid his outmanned forces.
More importantly, the engagement began with a Union battle plan superior to most of the previous efforts by Army of the Potomac commanders. A complete overhaul of the army's Bureau of Military Intelligence, which was commanded by Col. G. H. Sharpe, meant that for once the army's commander had a much more accurate appraisal of the number of troops in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, of how they were organized, and where they were stationed. Apart from gathering the usual sources of information from interrogating prisoners, deserters, "contrabands" (slaves), and refugees, the bureau for the first time coordinated intelligence from other sources including infantry and cavalry reconnaissance, signal stations, and an aerial balloon corps. Col. Sharpe also recruited scouts from the army and spies from the local population to infiltrate Lee's army and report directly back to the bureau. Overall the new service provided Hooker with a far more accurate estimate of the size of the forces confronting his army than the wild overestimates that had been provided by Allan Pinkerton and his detective agency to Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan during his tenures in command. Armed with this more realistic information, Hooker was able to plan for a flanking attack that, it was hoped, would avoid the bloodbath of direct frontal attacks, which were features of the Battles of Antietam and, more recently, Fredericksburg.
The army started from its winter quarters around Fredericksburg, where it faced Lee across the Rappahannock. Hooker planned a bold double envelopment of Lee's forces, sending four corps on a stealthy march northwest, turning south to cross the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers, turning east, and striking Lee in his rear. The remaining corps would strike Lee's front through Fredericksburg. Meanwhile, some 7,500 cavalry under Maj. Gen. George Stoneman were to raid deep into the Confederate rear areas, destroying crucial supply depots along the railroad from the Confederate capital in Richmond to Fredericksburg, which would cut Lee's lines of communication and supply. This bold, aggressive plan was later known as Stoneman's Raid.
On April 27–28, the four corps of the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers in several places, most of them near the confluence of the two rivers and the hamlet of Chancellorsville, which was little more than a large mansion, owned by the Frances Chancellor family, at the junction of the Orange Turnpike and Orange Plank Road. In the meantime, the second force of more than 30,000 men, under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, crossed the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, and Stoneman's cavalry began its movement to reach Lee's rear areas. Because the bulk of his cavalry was used in this way Hooker, who believed that cavalry could not operate efficiently in the heavily wooded Wilderness south of the Rappahannock, was left with only one cavalry brigade with which to operate with his main flanking force. The Confederate cavalry forces commanded by Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart would play a dominant role in the upcoming campaign by providing Lee with a constant flow of information while denying Hooker similar information from his own cavalry.
By May 1, Hooker had approximately 70,000 men concentrated in and around Chancellorsville. From his Fredericksburg headquarters, Lee decided to violate one of the generally accepted Principles of War and divide his force in the face of a superior enemy, hoping that aggressive action would allow him to attack and defeat a portion of Hooker's army before it could be fully concentrated against him. He left behind a brigade under Brig. Gen. William Barksdale on heavily fortified Marye's Heights and one division, 12,000 men under Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, on Prospect Hill to resist any advance by Sedgwick's corps, and he ordered Stonewall Jackson to march west and link up with Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson, assembling 40,000 men to confront Hooker at Chancellorsville. Fortunately for the Confederates, heavy fog along the Rappahannock masked some of these westward movements and Sedgwick chose to wait until he could determine the enemy's intentions.
Chancellorsville battle on May 1 and 2
Dowdall's Tavern was Union General Oliver O. Howard's headquarters until he was surprised and driven by Stonewall Jackson's Confederate troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1863.
Wilderness Church at Chancellorsville was the center of a stand made by Union general Schurz's division after Confederates under Stonewall Jackson made a surprise flank attack. The stand was brief as the Confederates smashed through and continued to roll up the Eleventh Corps (under command of General Oliver O. Howard).
At the same time that General Jackson was marching west to join with Anderson on the morning of May 1, Hooker ordered an advance to the east to strike Anderson, pushing his men out of the impenetrable thickets and scrub pine that characterized the area. This was seen by many Union commanders as a key to victory. If the larger Union army fought in the woods, known as the Wilderness of Spotsylvania, its huge advantage in artillery would be minimized, since artillery could not be used to any great effect in the Wilderness. Fighting began between the Confederate division of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws and the rightmost division of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's V Corps, under Maj. Gen. George Sykes. Sykes began an orderly withdrawal, covered by Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock's division.
Despite being in a potentially favorable situation, Hooker halted his brief offensive. His actions may have demonstrated his lack of confidence in handling the complex actions of such a large organization for the first time (he had been an effective and aggressive division and corps commander in previous battles), but he had also decided before beginning the campaign that he would fight the battle defensively, forcing Lee, with his small army, to attack Hooker's larger one. At the [First] Battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862), the Union army had done the attacking and met with a bloody defeat. Hooker knew Lee could not sustain such a defeat and keep an effective army in the field, so he ordered his men to withdraw back into the Wilderness and take a defensive position around Chancellorsville, daring Lee to attack him or retreat with superior forces at his back.
Lee accepted Hooker's gambit and planned an attack for May 2. On the night before, Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, came up with a risky plan that would once again split his already divided army. Jackson would lead his Second Corps of 28,000 men around to attack the Union right flank. Lee, on the other hand, would exercise personal command of the other 12,000 (the other half of Longstreet's First Corps, commanded directly by Lee during the battle) facing Hooker's entire 70,000 man force at Chancellorsville.
For this to work, several things had to happen. First, Jackson had to make a 12-mile (19 km) march via roundabout roads to reach the Union right, and he had to do it undetected. Second, Lee had to hope that Hooker stayed tamely on the defensive. Third, Early would have to keep Sedgwick bottled up in Fredericksburg. And when Jackson launched his attack, he had to hope that the Union forces were unprepared.
All of these conditions were met. Confederate cavalry under Stuart kept the Union forces from spotting Jackson on his long flank march, which took almost all day. The only sighting came shortly after Jackson's corps disengaged from Union forces south of Chancellorsville, and this worked to the Confederates' advantage—Hooker thought that his cavalry under Stoneman had cut Lee's supply line and that Lee was about to retreat. Therefore, he stayed right where he was and never contemplated an all-out attack, sending only his III Corps of 13,000 men under Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles forward. Sickles captured a handful of Second Corps men and then stopped.
At Fredericksburg, Sedgwick and Hooker were unable to communicate with one another because of a failure of telegraph lines. When Hooker finally got an order to Sedgwick late on the evening of May 2 ordering him to attack Early, Sedgwick failed to do so because he mistakenly believed Early had more men than he did.
But what led most of all to the impending Union disaster was the incompetent performance of the commander of the Union XI Corps, Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard. Howard, whose 11,000 men were posted at the far right of the Union line, failed to make any provision for his defense in case of a surprise attack, even though Hooker ordered him to do so. The Union right flank was not anchored on any natural obstacle, and the only defenses against a flank attack consisted of two cannons pointing out into the Wilderness. Also, the XI Corps was a unit with poor morale. Originally commanded by Brig. Gen. Franz Sigel and composed heavily of German immigrants, they were resentful when Sigel was replaced by the non-Germanic Howard. Many of the immigrants had poor English language skills and they were subjected to ethnic friction with the rest of the Army of the Potomac. The corps' readiness was poor as well—of the 23 regiments, eight had no combat experience, and the remaining 15 had never fought on the winning side of a battle.
Chancellor House was the headquarters of General Joseph Hooker during the Battle of Chancellorsville, 1863. The general was knocked off his feet with a possible concussion when a Confederate artillery round smashed into a column that he was standing beside. Later, the general would take flight leaving the house to fall prey to heavy Confederate fire.
Around 5:30 p.m., Jackson's 26,000 men came running out of the Wilderness and hit Howard's corps by surprise while most of them were cooking dinner. More than 4,000 of them were taken prisoner without firing a shot, and most of the remainder were routed. Only one division of the XI Corps made a stand, and it was soon driven off as well. By nightfall, the Confederate Second Corps had advanced more than two miles (3 km), to within sight of Chancellorsville, and was separated from Lee's men only by Sickles's corps, which remained where it had been after attacking that morning.
Hooker, concerned about Sickles's ability to hold what was now a salient into the Confederate lines, pulled the III Corps back to Chancellorsville that night. This gave the Confederates two advantages—it reunited Jackson and Lee's forces, and it gave them control of an elevated clearing in the woods known as Hazel Grove, one of the few places in which artillery could be used effectively. (Sickles was quite bitter about giving up this high ground his insubordinate actions at the Peach Orchard in the Battle of Gettysburg two months later were probably influenced strongly by this incident.)
Jackson's mistake came when he was scouting ahead of his corps along the Orange Plank Road that night. Having won a huge victory that day, Jackson wanted to press his advantage before Hooker and his army could regain their bearings and plan a counterattack, which might still succeed because of the sheer disparity in numbers. He rode out onto the plank road that night on horseback to determine the feasibility of a night attack by the light of the full moon, and, upon his return, he and his staff were incorrectly identified as Union cavalry by men of the Second Corps, who hit him with friendly fire. The wound was not life-threatening, but Jackson contracted pneumonia after his arm was amputated, and he died on May 10. His death was a devastating loss for the Confederacy. Some historians and participants—particularly those of the postbellum Lost Cause movement—attribute the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg two months later to Jackson's death.List of site sources >>>