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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 03, 1863

Battle of Chancellorsville(2)

In the bloodiest day of fighting at the Battle of Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee and General J.E.B. Stuart (commanding Stonewall Jackson’s troops) hammered the Union lines for five hours, slowly forcing them back and finally reuniting the two wings of the Army of Northern Virginia. As Lee prepared for an all out assault on the remaining Union forces, he received word from the detachment of troops he had left behind in Fredericksburg, that their defenses had broken. Lee halted the attack and sent troops to relieve those near Fredericksburg; the Union commander there had already left to help at Chancellorsville; Lee met him and forced his troops back across the Rappahannock River.

A Georgia soldier described the battle to his wife.

“…The fight commenced this morning, fought until 12 o’clock, the hardest battle I have ever heard. We drove them back across the river, but while we were fighting them there, they came across at Fredericksburg. Our division was sent down there to attack them and did so. It was most terrible, and we lost a great many men. …” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 227.