The Battle of Chancellorsville. May 1-May 5 1863. April 27 1863.
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The Battle of Chancellorsville
May 1-May 5 1863
The AoP, commanded by Maj. Gen Joseph Hooker, begins its flank march by its “flying column” consisting of the 3rd, 11th, and 12th Corps. The part of Hooker’s plan that wanted to hide his march from Lee and the AoNV, worked perfectly. Lee had no idea the enemy had started their campaign
By April 30th, the 5th Corps, under Maj. Gen. Meade, is ordered to cross the Rappahannock River, and meet the “flying column” at a three building crossroad called Chancellorsville. Hooker now has four corps on Lee’s flank and rear. It went exactly how Hooker had planned, Lee was completely caught by surprise.
Lee finds out what Hooker has done on April 30th. He is shocked, disgusted, angry, in disbelief that Mr. “F.J. Hooker” has done to him
Exactly how Hooker had planned, Lee had two options. He either could:
LEE CHOSE #2
Lee orders Jackson’s 2nd Corps to leave Fredericksburg and march the ten miles to the Chancellorsville area, find the enemy and attack him.
1st Corps: Longstreet (two divisions left at Chancellorsville after Longstreet took 3 divisions to SE Virginia) commanded by Lee himself
1st Div.: Maj. Gen. Richard Anderson 2nd Div.: Maj. Gen Lafayette McLaws
2nd Corps: Maj. Gen Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
2nd Corps Division Commanders
1st Division: Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill 2nd Division: Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes
2nd Corps (cont’d)
3rd Division: Maj. Gen Jubal Early 4th Division: Maj. Gen Raleigh Colston
Lee also knows that the AoP’s 6th corps under Sedgwick was still at Fredericksburg. He had to keep one division to keep Sedgwick in check, so he orders Jackson to leave one division behind in the Fredericksburg lines. Jackson choose Early’s 3rd division. The other three 2nd corps divisions, he marches to the Chancellorsville area.
Hooker and the “flying column” of three corps now meet up with the 5th Corps at Chancellorsville. They now have a four corps flying column.
So far, his plan has worked flawlessly. Lee is out of his strong Fredericksburg defenses. Now three things must happen for his plan to become a victorious one:
IF all this would happen, there is a good chance Hooker would have badly defeated Lee!!!
First, Hooker heard nothing from Stoneman. And Obviously, Lee’s supply lines were not cut, because if they were Lee would HAVE TO RETREAT, and Lee is confronting him instead of retreating. This greatly confused and irritated Hooker
Second, there must have been some kind of communication mess up between Hooker and Sedgwick in Fredericksburg. Despite sending an order to attack, to keep Jackson and his men in Fredericksburg, Jackson was reported moving towards the flying column with his ENTIRE CORPS, so obviously Sedgwick and the 6th did not attack. This greatly worried and irritated Hooker.
Third, Jackson launches a massive assault against Hooker and his flying column, about three miles east of Chancellorsville. This major attack, and Hooker’s irritation over the previous two parts of the plan not working out, caused him to STOP MOVING FORWARD, and retreat around the Chancellorsville crossroads for the night to figure out what the Hell was going on.
These were the battle lines the night of May 1.
Hooker and the AoP still have the advantage. They have forced Lee out of his strong Fredericksburg defenses, and have chosen the battlefield, which Lee and the AoNV had to attack him on. If they
Could gain a few more miles
Of ground, Lee and the
AoNV would have to
Lee is in HORRIBLE trouble. He is severely outnumbered. Both his flanks are turned. He is out of his strong defenses. He is attacking the enemy in their chosen ground. Any other general would already have retreated. But not Lee. He decides to fight. So the night of May 1, he meets with Jackson to try and plan an attack the next day, and save the battle for the Confederates.
During Lee and Jackson’s meeting, scouts came back and said that the Union left flank was vulnerable to attack. Lee asks Jackson “How can we get at those people?”
Jackson proposes to attack the exposed Union left flank. Lee asks: “What force do you propose to attack with?”
Jackson: “My entire corps.”
Lee, taken back says, “What do you propose to leave me with to confront the enemy?”
Jackson: “With your permission, the divisions of McLaws and Anderson.”
This proposal stirred the fighter and risk taker in him, so he OK’d Jackson’s proposal. Jackson was to begin the flank march at 8:00 AM May 2.
This was an extremely risky plan. Jackson had to march and not let the enemy see him, or they could attack and rout his corps while on march. He had to completely conceal his march, his lines were miles long. He could not attack until he was in his assigned position.
By 4:00 PM May 2, his corps had made their flank march and were ready to attack
The corps on the Union left was the German 11th corps led by General O.O. Howard. These men were greatly disliked by other AoP men, and were harassed constantly. Howard was warned by Hooker to watch out for an attack from the west, but Howard did not heed the warning.
Consequently, the 11th corps was not ready for Jackson’s attack. They were literally lying around, playing cards, washing clothes, eating, and had NO IDEA what was coming. The first clue they had was that all kinds of wild animals-squirrels, deer, foxes, even a bear, came streaming out of the woods all at once right at them.
Jackson’s attack hit Howard’s 11th Corps right on the flank. Most Germans of the 11th did not even stop to pick up a weapon or any of their gear. They were so frightened they just ran the opposite way as fast as possible.
The attack takes about 2 ½ hours, and with the combination of Jackson’s lines getting tangled in the Wilderness, and resistance from the 12th corps, this caused the Confederate attackers to slow down. It is now about 8:00 PM May 2 1863
He wants to cut the Yankees off from the river. If he does, the war could be over. He does not want darkness or confusion to stop him. He orders another attack, a night attack. Jackson rides out between his lines and the Yankees, to personally look for an attack route. But it is dark.
And as Jackson is returning to his lines, he is shot…BY HIS OWN MEN!!!! His men, in the darkness mistook Jackson and his aides as Union Calvary.
Jackson was taken to a field hospital where his left arm was amputated. The next day, Jackson was in surprisingly little pain and all signs were positive. General Lee wrote Jackson that “You have lost your left arm, but I have lost my right.”
JEB Stuart, the Confederate calvary commander, is assigned to command Jackson’s corps. The battle is now in favor of the Confederates, but they still have a lot of hard fighting to do to win the battle. Hooker and the AoP are not defeated yet.
Lee decides to continue the attack. Even though he is greatly outnumbered, even though most of the Yankees are behind solid defenses, Lee feels he has the momentum, and will not give it up.
Lee orders Stuart (now commanding Jackson’s 2nd Corps) to continue his assault. He orders McLaws and Anderson’s Divisions (1st Corps divisions left with Lee at Chancellorsville) to attack on their front. He wanted to re-unite his line with Stuart’s Line
Hooker still felt confident of winning. He sent a direct order to Sedgwick to attack at Fredericksburg. He felt if Sedgwick could break through and threaten Lee’s flank, Lee would have to move once again, giving the AoP the chance to attack
Lee launches his combined assault and despite HORRIBLE losses, begins to pysh back the Yankees, slowly but surely
At 9:00 Am May 3, while standing on the porch of the Chancellor House, The house gets hit with a cannot ball, and the pillars on the porch collapse. Hooker is hit in the head with two pillars. He is severely concussed. Hooker is in and out of consciousness all day. Because of this, no more direct commands come from Hooker.
Sedgwick finally attacks at Fredericksburg with the 6th Corps. Though late, it is sucessful. It break’s Early’s division line and starts coming behind Lee at Chancellorsville to attack it. The battle might now be changing momentum.
Lee is told that Sedgwick and the AoP 6th Corps was about to attack his rear. Instead of retreating, he decides to divide his forces (again) and send McLaws division to attack Sedgwick. It resulted in the Battle of Salem Church, in which McLaws won. Lee’s rear and flank are now safe.
Lee has Hooker’s army hugging two fords. His main army around U.S. Ford, and the 6th Corps around Banks Ford.
They attack Sedgwick at Banks Ford, with no real success.
No real action. The two armies basically just wait and stare at one another
Hooker thought Sedgwick had retreated to the north side of the Rappahannock. He was devastated to learn this, but in order to re-unite the Army, the retreated the rest of the army across U.S. Ford. The Chancellorsville campaign is now over.
Jackson is taken to a mansion well behind Confederate lines to recover. He begins to recover excellently.
Jackson develops a severe case of Pneumonia. On May 9 the illness is deemed fatal.
Jackson is told he will die in a few hours. He says he will be better off for it. He goes into a delirium. At @1:00 Jackson momentarily comes out of his delirium and says to all watching
“Let us cross the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”
Jackson then dies.