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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 02, 1863

Battle of Chancellorsville

By this time the major parts of both armies were in place around Chancellorsville. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia numbered around 40,000 men, while Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac nearly totaled 70,000. But Lee and Stonewall Jackson were instituting a daring plan; they had split their smaller force into two, with Jackson leading 28,000 troops through the wilderness for a surprise attack on the Union left. To mask this Lee, with only 12,000 remaining troops, engaged the full Union army and kept them occupied for most of the day. Shortly after 5:00 that afternoon, Jackson had successfully completed his secret march, and launched a massive, surprise attack on the Union left. That portion of the Union army was routed and driven back almost a full mile, before recovering and making a stand before dark. After the fighting was over for this day, Hooker moved his main army back to support the broken left, giving Lee what most consider his most impressive victory of the war. But it came at a heavy price. Stonewall Jackson went out to scout the terrain after the battle, to see if there was a possibility for a night time attack. Upon returning to his troops he was mistaken for a Union patrol, and shot three times by his own men. One of the wounds caused his left arm to have to be amputated. He actually had begun to recover from his wounds, when contracted pneumonia and died on May 10. Meanwhile, J.E.B. Stuart assumed command of Jackson’s forces.

Click here to read Chancellorsville, Chapter VIII of Reminisces of the Civil War by John B. Gordon - which contains material on Georgians’ participation in the battle.

Image of Battle of Chancellorsville Detail of Stone Mountain Carving, showing Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson
Ed Jackson
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