The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville


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General Hooker beamed with satisfaction and pride, he continued. His eyes sparkled with confidence…. Such a great army! Thunder and lightning! The Johnnies could never whip this army! Upon his return to Washington, Lincoln wrote a letter to Hooker expressing his views on the upcoming spring campaign. He stated that our primary object is to menace him [Lee], that he shall have no leisure nor safety in sending away detachments. If he weakens himself, then pitch into him. On April 11, he sent Maj.

Daniel Butterfield, his chief of staff, to the capital with a top-secret letter to Lincoln detailing his plans for the upcoming offensive. This double envelopment had Maj. Henry W. George G. With that, the blue horde would traverse the Rappahannock, then the Rapidan, and march in a southeasterly direction toward the vital crossroads at Chancellorsville. While all this was transpiring, Maj. Ambrose Burnside, later dubbed the Mud March.

On the left wing, Hooker sent Maj. There they would cross the Rappahannock and convince Lee that this was the main thrust of the attack. If Lee held, Sedgwick would hurl his 59,man wing against him. If Lee withdrew toward Chancellorsville, Sedgwick would follow and carry the works at all hazards, and establish his force on the Telegraph Road. Let your watchword be fight, and let all your orders be fight, fight, fight. Unfortunately, the Union horsemen did not do much fighting on this day; Mother Nature stepped in.

As Stoneman was preparing to cross, a torrential downpour began. For some inexplicable reason, Stoneman had hesitated in crossing. Now the wooden bridge that spanned the Rappahannock was under water, and the nervous brigadier decided to wait out the rain. Earlier, Colonel Benjamin F. If Stoneman had demonstrated the same boldness that Davis possessed, his cavalry would have crossed the river and sped on toward Richmond unimpeded.

The raid was a disastrous failure. Infuriated, Hooker quickly revised his plans. Within two days, the Union horsemen had crossed the Rappahannock and were in motion. Apart from a few skirmishes with Rebel troopers, the Northern force was unimpeded as it proceeded to rip up railroad ties, burn depots and cause as much damage as possible.

The only exception was Brig. It seems that Averell thought he was vastly outnumbered and thus ordered his 3, troopers to halt. Disgusted, Hooker relieved him of command on May 2. Under the cover of darkness on the evening of April 28, the Union juggernaut began to move. As a chilly rain fell, the Northern infantry stepped off with a spirit not felt since the beginning of the war.

The Battle of Chancellorsville

Foot soldiers from the 75th Ohio sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic as they slogged through the thick, oozing mud. Suddenly, Hooker rode past. His bright blue eyes sparkled with pride and confidence, remembered one infantryman. He waved his black hat high overhead. His thick blond hair jolted in rhythm to the galloping of his horse. Slocum, senior to Howard and Meade, was in command. However, Fighting Joe had, in a manner of speaking, kept his cards close to his vest. The only commanders who had received any detailed instructions were Sedgwick and Stoneman. If the enemy decided to fight, Slocum was to select a strong position, and compel him to attack you on your ground.

Hooker urged Slocum to push on so that not a moment be lost until our troops are established at or near Chancellorsville. From that moment all will be ours. When he learned the true scope of the Yankee movement, Stuart hastily sent word to the Confederate detachment at Germanna Ford.

The Battle of Chancellorsville:

Brigadier General Henry W. He soon was embroiled in an exchange of words with Brig. William T. Brooks and James S. It seems that Benham also thought he was in charge of the crossing.

American History: The Civil War and Reconstruction: Major Battles and Campaigns of the Civil War

At a. David A. Russell refused to allow his troops to cross in the darkness. Benham summarily ordered him arrested, but nothing came of it. At approximately a.

Gods and Generals ~Battle of Chancellorsville (part two)

Suddenly out of the darkness the sharp crack of muskets was heard. Bang whiz bang—we were saluted by a volley of musketry, recalled one Pennsylvania officer. The greater portion of the balls flew too high over the men in the boats and too low to do us much damage. As soon as this was accomplished, the bridge building resumed at a rapid pace. As the boatmen neared the riverbank, preparing to cross, Confederate sharpshooters opened up. The boatmen fled as two regiments from the famed Iron Brigade returned the Rebel fire.

When word came to load the boats, the soldiers had to race across open ground to reach the craft. While their comrades covered them, the 6th Wisconsin and 24th Michigan started toward the Rebel positions with bullets hailing around all the time. Opposing the Iron Brigade were the 13th Georgia and 6th Louisiana. In this instance, the blue-clad attackers had the advantage. Confederate riflemen had to stand halfway out of their parapets to get a clear shot and, in so doing, exposed themselves to the Yankee infantry.

Henry Walker from the 13th Georgia later wrote to his family: We fought there about two or three hours until our cartridges gave out and we never lost but one man while we was in the rifle pits but when we went to leave they swept our boys down like they was chaff. The troopers from Maj. Jubal A. While they were frantically digging in, a puzzled Robert E.

Lee watched in amazement as Union infantry scampered ashore from the Union bridgehead at Fredericksburg. Never one to become nervous in tense situations, Lee coolly waited to hear from his trusted eyes and ears, Stuart, before making any decision. Lee knew that he must have more detailed information to determine where the main effort of the Yankee army would be. Thomas Stonewall Jackson, was shoring up Confederate defenses around Fredericksburg.

Brigadier General Robert E. Hill and Brig.


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Raleigh E. Colston, were kept in reserve. Early anxiously watched as the Yankees deployed along a four-mile front. The question was whether they were ostentatiously displayed as a feint, or whether they were massed for crossing, he later wrote. Finally, the word came that Lee had been eagerly awaiting. Lee immediately telegraphed Davis: Their intention, I presume, is to turn our left, and probably get into our rear.

Our scattered condition favors their operations. Without hesitating, Lee sent for his artillery, which was camped at Bowling Green and Chesterfield Station. However, with the exception of a few smaller infantry units in the area, he could expect no other reinforcements. Samuel French was stationed at Petersburg, and Maj. Hill was back in North Carolina with his division. It was crystal clear to Lee that he would have to defeat the Union masses with what he had in hand—no more. At 11 a. Brusquely ushering the Chancellor family into one of the back rooms of the house, the crusty corps commander awaited the arrival of the remainder of the troops.

About 2 that afternoon, Slocum galloped up with the forward elements of his corps. This is splendid, Slocum! Hurrah for old Joe! Slocum, however, had discouraging news for Meade. Hooker had given directions to take up a line of battle…and not to move forward without further orders. This was extremely bleak news to Meade, but Slocum was in command and he had no choice but to follow orders. At dusk, Hooker himself arrived on the scene.

Amid a flurry of congratulations, he issued his grandiloquent General Order No. Surrounded by dozens of officers, Hooker further boasted: I have the rebellion in my breeches pocket, and God Almighty himself cannot take it away from me. A few in the crowd were taken aback by this blasphemous remark. Said one Union officer: I do not like that sort of talk on the eve of battle. There is no sense in defying the Almighty when you are fighting General Lee. General Anderson, after leaving the Chancellor estate, was ordered by Lee to reposition the brigades of Brig.

While Meade was trotting up to the Chancellor house, the Rebels were already beginning to build fortifications to establish a perimeter from Zoan Church to Tabernacle Church. Once again, the fast-paced cavalry of Jeb Stuart came through. Lee knew at this point he had no time to waste; he must attack. McLaws was ordered to leave behind Brig. It was a daring move, but Lee felt he had no other alternative.

While on reconnaissance the evening prior to the battle, Rebel horsemen ran pell-mell into Lt. As the two groups neared, Stuart was startled by a pistol shot and was surprised to see his point rider hurrying toward him, warning that Yankees were up ahead. Jeering, the cavalier dispatched a small scouting party to verify the information. Heading the foray was Heros von Borcke, a former officer in the Prussian army, who immediately met several horsemen on the road.

Because of the darkness, von Borcke had difficulty distinguishing their uniforms and inquired what outfit they belonged to. With that, they charged. Watch now. Commentary from leading historians and eyewitness accounts are combined with dramatic battle reenactments to tell the tragic story of the battle of Chancellorsville. Fought on May of , it is considered Robert E. Lee's greatest victory during the American Civil War, despite the loss of his best lieutenant, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, to friendly fire.

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The Battle of Chancellorsville in the Civil War

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The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville The Greatest Civil War Battles: The Battle of Chancellorsville

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