May 1 - 3, 1863

     After Burnside's failed attacks at Fredericksburg in December 1862, the Army of the Potomac attempted to flank Lee to the west, but this effort ended in failure.  Lincoln replaced Burnside with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker.  Hooker proved to an able administrator and improved the army greatly, especially the cavalry.

     Hooker created a solid plan to attack Lee.  Leaving 40,000 men at Fredericksburg to occupy Lee, Hooker moved west then south across the Rappahannock with another 54,000 men.  Lee would either withdraw or be trapped between two superior forces.  Lee had detached Longstreet's corps to the Suffolk area, in part to simplify his supply problems, and as a result had only 53,000 men to deal with the offensive.  To modern eyes, a withdrawal to join Longstreet may seem to have been Lee's best option, but the army's horses were in desperate shape, and perhaps reflecting this, Lee stated that a retreat would have been a disaster.  So Lee split his force, leaving 10,000 men at Fredericksburg under Jubal Early while moving with Jackson and 43,000 men into the Wilderness to face Hooker's advance.


Crossing Points

Kelly's Ford

     Two Union corps crossed the Rappahannock near Chancellorsville, but the majority marched further west and required two river crossings.  Meade's V Corps, Howard's XI, and Slocum's XII Corps crossed the Rappahannock River here at Kelly's Ford on April 26th after a brief skirmish.

Ely's Ford Over the Rapidan

     The XI and XII Corps crossed the Rapidan at Germanna Ford, but Meade's V Corps crossed here at Ely's Ford.  These Union corps met up with Couch's II and Sickles' III Corps at the Chancellorsville intersection.  Photos taken during the war show the hill in this picture directly above the river in the distance. 

The Battlefield

May 1, 1863  Hooker Advances and Falls Back

May 2, 1863  Jackson's Flank Attack

May 3, 1863  Stuart Continues the Attack


After the Battle

Guinea Station  The Death of Jackson


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