- The Campaign - Battle Studies: Chancellorsville - Research Guides at Library of the Marine Corps
- The Union Sixth Army Corps in the Chancellorsville Campaign
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The Campaign - Battle Studies: Chancellorsville - Research Guides at Library of the Marine Corps
Summary The campaign of Chancellorsville was perhaps the Union Army's greatest disappointment in the war. A Companion to the U. Civil War. Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. The corps suffered nearly 2, casualties killed, 1, wounded, and missing or captured , about one quarter of its strength, including 12 of 23 regimental commanders, which suggests that they fought fiercely during their retreat. Jackson's force was now separated from Lee's men only by Sickles's corps, which had been separated from the main body of the army after its foray attacking Jackson's column earlier in the afternoon.
When he first heard the news, Sickles was skeptical, but finally believed it and decided to pull back to Hazel Grove. Sickles became increasingly nervous, knowing that his troops were facing an unknown number of Confederates to the west. A patrol of Jackson's troops was driven back by Union gunners, a minor incident that would come to be exaggerated into a heroic repulse of Jackson's entire command.
Between 11 p. Stonewall Jackson wanted to press his advantage before Hooker and his army could regain their bearings and plan a counterattack, which might still succeed because of the sheer disparity in numbers. He rode out onto the Plank Road that night to determine the feasibility of a night attack by the light of the full moon, traveling beyond the farthest advance of his men. When one of his staff officers warned him about the dangerous position, Jackson replied, "The danger is all over.
The enemy is routed. Go back and tell A. Hill to press right on. As he and his staff started to return, they were incorrectly identified as Union cavalry by men of the 18th North Carolina Infantry , who hit Jackson with friendly fire. Jackson's three bullet wounds were not in themselves life-threatening, but his left arm was broken and had to be amputated. While recovering, he contracted pneumonia and died on May His death was a devastating loss for the Confederacy. Some historians and participants—particularly those of the postbellum Lost Cause movement—attribute the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg two months later to Jackson's absence.
The Union gunners at Fairview Cemetery were alert and nervous; they were a few hundred yards behind Berry's division and still-intact elements of the XI Corps and they found it quite impossible to fire their guns without the shells going over the heads of the infantrymen in front of them. A few friendly-fire casualties resulted from this as the gunners were quick to shoot at anything that looked like enemy soldiers; when they got sight of a large body of Confederates drawing near, they let loose a huge cannonade that landed on and around the party that was carrying the wounded Jackson to the rear and did end up wounding A.
The Union Sixth Army Corps in the Chancellorsville Campaign
Despite the fame of Stonewall Jackson's victory on May 2, it did not result in a significant military advantage for the Army of Northern Virginia. About 76, Union men faced 43, Confederate at the Chancellorsville front. Unless Lee could devise a plan to eject Sickles from Hazel Grove and combine the two halves of his army, he would have little chance of success in assaulting the formidable Union earthworks around Chancellorsville. Fortunately for Lee, Joseph Hooker inadvertently cooperated. As they were withdrawing, the trailing elements of Sickles's corps were attacked by the Confederate brigade of Brig.
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James J. Archer , which captured about prisoners and four cannons. Hazel Grove was soon turned into a powerful artillery platform with 30 guns under Col. Porter Alexander. After Jackson was wounded on May 2, command of the Second Corps fell to his senior division commander, Maj. Hill was soon wounded himself.
He consulted with Brig. Rodes , the next most senior general in the corps, and Rodes acquiesced in Hill's decision to summon Maj.
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Stuart to take command, notifying Lee after the fact. Henry Heth replaced Hill in division command. Although Stuart was a cavalryman who had never commanded infantry before, he was to deliver a creditable performance at Chancellorsville. By the morning of May 3, the Union line resembled a horseshoe. On the western side of the Chancellorsville salient, Stuart organized his three divisions to straddle the Plank Road: Heth's in the advance, Colston's — yards behind, and Rodes's, whose men had done the hardest fighting on May 2, near the Wilderness Church.
The Confederates were resisted fiercely by the Union troops behind strong earthworks, and the fighting on May 3 was the heaviest of the campaign. The initial waves of assaults by Heth and Colston gained a little ground, but were beaten back by Union counterattacks. Douglas Southall Freeman , Lee's Lieutenants . Rodes sent his men in last and this final push, along with the excellent performance of the Confederate artillery, carried the morning battle.
Chancellorsville was the only occasion in the war in Virginia in which Confederate gunners held a decided advantage over their Federal counterparts.
Confederate guns on Hazel Grove were joined by 20 more on the Plank Road to duel effectively with the Union guns on neighboring Fairview Hill, causing the Federals to withdraw as ammunition ran low and Confederate infantrymen picked off the gun crews. Hooker ordered it abandoned for good. The loss of this artillery platform doomed the Union position at the Chancellorsville crossroads as well, and the Army of the Potomac began a fighting retreat to positions circling United States Ford.
The soldiers of the two halves of Lee's army reunited shortly after 10 a. Lee's presence was the signal for one of those uncontrollable bursts of enthusiasm which none can appreciate who has not witnessed them. The fierce soldiers, with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle, the wounded crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a common impulse.
One long unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle and hailed the presence of a victorious chief. He sat in the full realization of all that soldiers dream of—triumph; and as I looked at him in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and confidence in his army had won, I thought that it must have been from some such scene that men in ancient days ascended to the dignity of gods.
He later wrote that half of the pillar "violently [struck me] Although clearly incapacitated after he arose, Hooker refused to turn over command temporarily to his second-in-command, Maj. Couch , and, with Hooker's chief of staff, Maj. Daniel Butterfield , and Sedgwick out of communication again due to the failure of the telegraph lines , there was no one at headquarters with sufficient rank or stature to convince Hooker otherwise. This failure may have affected Union performance over the next day and may have directly contributed to Hooker's seeming lack of nerve and timid performance throughout the rest of the battle.
As Lee was savoring his victory at the Chancellorsville crossroads, he received disturbing news: Maj.
John Sedgwick 's force had broken through the Confederate lines at Fredericksburg and was headed toward Chancellorsville. On the night of May 2, in the aftermath of Jackson's flank attack, Hooker had ordered Sedgwick to "cross the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg on the receipt of this order, and at once take up your line of march on the Chancellorsville road until you connect with him. You will attack and destroy any force you may fall in with on the road. Lee had left a relatively small force at Fredericksburg, ordering Brig. Jubal Early to "watch the enemy and try to hold him.
On the morning of May 2, Early received a garbled message from Lee's staff that caused him to start marching most of his men toward Chancellorsville, but he quickly returned after a warning from Brig. William Barksdale of a Union advance against Fredericksburg. John Newton and Brig. Albion P. Howe and William T. Brooks —were arrayed in line from the front of the town to Deep Run. Most of Early's combat strength was deployed to the south of town, where Federal troops had achieved their most significant successes during the December battle. Harry T. Hays from the far right to Barksdale's left.
By midmorning, two Union attacks against the infamous stone wall on Marye's Heights were repulsed with numerous casualties. A Union party under flag of truce was allowed to approach ostensibly to collect the wounded, but while close to the stone wall, they were able to observe how sparsely the Confederate line was manned. A third Union attack was successful in overrunning the Confederate position. Early was able to organize an effective fighting retreat.
John Sedgwick's road to Chancellorsville was open, but he wasted time in gathering his troops and forming a marching column.
His men, led by Brooks's division, followed by Newton and Howe, were delayed for several hours by successive actions against the Alabama brigade of Brig. Cadmus M. His final delaying line was a ridge at Salem church, where he was joined by three brigades from McLaws's division and one from Anderson's, bringing the total Confederate strength to about 10, men.