Early in April, 1863, Hooker
, in command of the Army of the Potomac, became impatient, and resolved to put it in motion towards Richmond
, notwithstanding his ranks were not full.
Cavalry under Stoneman
were sent to destroy railways in Lee
's rear, but were foiled by the water in the streams.
After a pause, Hooker
determined to attempt to turn Lee
's flank, and, for that purpose, sent 10,000 mounted men to raid in his rear.
Then he moved 36,000 of the troops of his right wing across the Rappahannock
, with orders to halt and intrench at Chancellorsville
, between the Confederate army near Fredericksburg
This movement was so masked by a demonstration on Lee
's front by Hooker
's left wing, under General Sedgwick
, that the right was well advanced before Lee
was aware of his peril.
These troops reached Chancellorsville
, in a region known as “The wilderness,” on the evening of April 30, 1863, when Hooker
expected to see Lee
, conscious of danger, fly towards Richmond
He did no such thing, but proceeded to strike the National
army a heavy blow, for the twofold purpose of seizing the communications between the two parts of that army and compelling its commander to fight at a disadvantage, with only a part of his troops in hand.
had made his headquarters in the spacious brick house of Mr. Chancellor
, and sent out Pleasonton
's cavalry to reconnoitre.
A part of these encountered the Confederate cavalry, under Stuart
, and were defeated.
had called “Stonewall
's large force to come up when he perceived Sedgwick
left General 20, 1870.
Early with 9,000 men and thirty cannon to hold his fortified position at Fredericksburg
, and, at a little past midnight (May 1, 1863), he put Jackson
's column in motion towards Chancelorsville.
It joined another force under General Anderson
at eight o'clock in the morning, and he, in person, led the
Confederates to attack the Nationals.
had also disposed the latter in battle order.
Aware of the peril of fighting with the Wilderness
at his back, he had so disposed his army as to fight in the open country, with a communication open with the Rappahannock
At eleven o'clock the divisions of Griffin
, of Meade
's corps, pushed out to the left, in the direction of Banks's Ford, while Sykes
's division of the same corps, supported by Hancock
's division, and forming the centre column, moved along a turnpike.
's entire corps, with Howard
's, and its batteries, massed in its rear, comprising the right column, marched along a plank road.
The battle was begun about a mile in advance of the National
works at Chancellorsville
, by the van of the centre column and Confederate cavalry.
brought up his entire column, with artillery, and, after a severe struggle with McLaws
, he gained an advantageous position, at noon, on one of the ridges back of Fredericksburg
Banks's Ford, which Lee
had strenuously sought to cover, was now virtually in possession of the Nationals, and the distance between Sedgwick
, opposite Fredericksburg
, and the army at Chancellorsville
was shortened at least 12 miles.
had met and struggled fiercely on the plank road.
endeavoring to flank Slocum
, and his strong column overlapping Sykes
's flank, Hooker
, fearing his army might be beaten in detail before he could successfully resist the furious onslaught of Jackson
, ordered its withdrawal behind his works at Chancellorsville
, the Confederates
following close in the rear of the retreating troops.
So ended the movements of the day. Hooker
's position was a strong one.
line extended from the Rappahannock
to the Wilderness church
, 2 miles west of Chancellorsville
's corps, with Couch
's, formed his left; Slocum
's, and a division of Sickles
's, his centre, and Howard
's his right, with Pleasonton
's cavalry near.
's forces had the Virginia
cavalry of Owen
on the right, and Stuart
's and a part of Fitzhugh Lee
's on the left.
's forces occupied the bridge on the east of the Big Meadow Swamp
, and Anderson
's continued the line to the left of McLaws
Such was the general disposition of the opposing armies on the morning of May 2.
was unwilling to risk a direct attack on Hooker
, and Jackson
advised a secret flank movement with his entire corps, so as to fall on Hooker
hesitated, but so much did he lean on Jackson
as adviser and executor that he consented.
With 25,000 men Jackson
made the perilous movement, marching swiftly and steadily through the thick woods, with Stuart
's cavalry between his forces and those of the Nationals.
But the movement was early discovered; the Nationals, however, believing it to be a retreat of the Confederates
pushed forward Birney
's division to reconnoitre, followed by two brigades of Howard
charged upon the passing column, and captured a Georgia regiment, 500 strong.
but was checked by Confederate artillery.
now held the road over which Jackson
Disposition was made to pursue the supposed fugitives, when Jackson
made a quick and startling movement towards Chancellorsville
, concealed by the thick woods, at six o'clock in the evening, suddenly burst forth from the thickets with his whole force, like an unexpected and terrible tornado, and fell with full force upon Howard
's corps (the llth), with tremendous yells, just as they were preparing for supper and repose.
's division, on the extreme right, received the first blow, and almost instantly the surprised troops, panic-stricken, fled to the rear, communicating their alarm to the other divisions of the corps.
The Confederates captured men and guns and a commanding position, while the fugitives, in evident confusion, rushed towards Chancellorsville
, upon the position of General Schurz
, whose division had already retreated.
The tide of affrighted men rolled back upon General Steinwehr
While the divisions of Devens
were reforming, Steinwehr
quickly changed front, threw his men behind some works, rallied some of Schurz
's men. and checked the pursuit for a brief space.
But the overwhelming number of the Confederates
speedily captured the works.
These disasters on the right were partially relieved by Hooker
, who sent forward
troops at the double-quick, under Generals Berry
, and also a courier to apprise Sickles
, who had pushed some distance beyond the National lines
, of the disaster to the 11th Corps and his own peril.
He was directed to fall back and attack Jackson
's left flank.
He was in a critical situation, but Pleasonton
saved him by a quick and skilful movement, greatly assisting in checking the pursuit.
This was done long enough for Pleasonton
to bring his own horse-artillery and more than twenty of Sickles
's guns to bear upon the Confederates
, and to pour into their ranks a destructive storm of grape and canister shot.
soon came to Pleasonton
's assistance, when there was a severe struggle for the possession of cannon.
was making a strong artillery
attack upon Hooker
's left and centre.
Soon a great misfortune befell the Confederate
commander, in the loss of “Stonewall
, the strong right arm of his power.
had sent for Hill
, and was anxious to follow up the advantage he had gained by extending his lines to the left and cutting off Hooker
's communication with the United States Ford
While waiting for Hill
, he pushed forward with his staff, on a personal reconnoissance, and, when returning, in the gloom of evening, his men, mistaking them for National cavalry, fired upon them and mortally wounded the great leader.
No more fighting occurred in that part of the field.
's division drove back the Confederates
at midnight, recovered some lost ground, and brought back some abandoned guns and caissons.
During the night a new line of intrenchments was thrown up by the Nationals; but Hooker
's forces were in a very perilous position on Sunday morning, May 3.
When he heard of the movement of Jackson
on Saturday morning, he had called from Sedgwick Reynolds
's corps, 20,000 strong, and it arrived the same evening.
's force was now 60,000 strong, and Lee
The former ordered Sedgwick
to cross the river and seize and hold Fredericksburg
and the heights behind it, and then, pushing along the roads leading to Chancellorsville
, crush every impediment and join the main army.
Each army made disposition for a battle on Sunday morning. Stuart
advanced to the attack with Lee
's left wing, and when he came in sight of the Nationals he shouted, “Charge, and remember Jackson
With thirty pieces of artillery presently in position on an elevation, his men made a desperate charge under cover of their fire, and were soon struggling with Sickles
's corps and four other divisions.
These were pushed back, and a fierce battle ensued, the tide of success ebbing and flowing for more than an hour.
During this struggle Hooker
had been prostrated, and Couch
took command of the army.
Almost the whole National army became engaged in the battle, at different points.
excepting the troops under Meade
fell back towards the Rappahannock
, and, at noon, Hooker
, having recovered, resumed chief command.
's army was now united, but
's was divided.
had seriously menaced Lee
's flank, but had not joined Hooker
After a hard conflict and the loss of 1,000 men, Sedgwick
had captured the Confederate
works on the heights back of Fredericksburg
, and sent Early
, their defender, flying southward with his shattered columns.
Intelligence of these events made Lee
, leaving Gibbon
in command at Fredericksburg
, marched for Chancellorsville
, when Lee
was compelled to divide his army to meet this new peril.
He sent McLaws
with four brigades to meet Sedgwick
At Salem church they had a sanguinary conflict.
The Confederates won, and the losses of Sedgwick
, added to those sustained in the morning, amounted to about 5,000 men. Hooker
, at the same time, seemed paralyzed in his new position, for his army appeared being beaten in detail.
On the following morning, perceiving that Hooker
's army had been much strengthened, Lee
thought it necessary to drive Sedgwick
across the Rappahannock
before again attacking the main body.
Early was sent to retake the Heights of Fredericksburg
, and he cut Sedgwick
off from the city.
Early was reinforced by Anderson
, by which Sedgwick
was enclosed on three sides.
At six o'clock in the evening the Confederates
attacked him. His forces gave way and retreated to Banks's Ford, and before morning the remains of Sedgwick
's corps had crossed the Rappahannock
over pontoon bridges.
also withdrew from Fredericksburg
that night, and, on Tuesday, Lee
had only Hooker
to contend with.
He concentrated his forces to strike Hooker
a crushing blow before night, but a heavy rain-storm prevented.
prepared to retreat, and did so on the night of May 5 and morning of the 6th, crossing the Rappahannock
and returning to the old quarters of the army opposite Fredericksburg
The losses of each army had been very heavy.
That of the Confederates
was reported at 12,277, including 2,000 prisoners, and that of the Nationals was 17,197, including about 5,000 prisoners. The latter also lost thirteen heavy guns, about 20,000 small-arms, seventeen colors, and a large amount of ammunition.
The Union Generals Berry