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.
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.
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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