May 1, 1863 - Part 2


Mahone Attacked by Sykes

     Mahone formed his line along this high ground overlooking the valley.  The Union cavalry had been pushed back over the creek, but a whole division of Union infantry deployed along the distant ridge.  The Yankees attacked and pushed Mahone back, then took up a good defensive position as more Confederates arrived.

Looking South Across the Orange Turnpike

     Since the three Union columns hadn't all made equal progress, with the southernmost column lagging, the right flank of this center column was vulnerable.  So instead of attacking the Union position directly, Jackson sent more troops along the Plank Road further south.  They successfully pushed back the Federals opposing them, and Rodes' division then deployed north facing the flank of the Sykes' division at the Orange Turnpike.  They attacked toward the camera in a line roughly parallel to the turnpike.  Although three Union regiments had faced south to protect against an earlier attack by a single regiment, Rodes' attack quickly defeated Sykes' division, and the Yankees retreated in confusion behind the creek to the protection of Hancock's division.


New Park Service Land

   Sykes met Hancock here on the high ground on the right of the picture, and both of them wanted to make a stand on this ground, facing the Confederates off the picture to the right.  This land, a recent preservation success story, is the area between the Orange Turnpike along the treeline on the right half of the picture, and the Plank Road off the picture to the left.  Although fresh troops were available and Meade's column by the river was unopposed, Hooker ordered his men back to the Chancellorsville intersection. 

     For a time, Sykes' division took up position along the turnpike.  The Confederates of Heth's division moved north from the Plank Road to support McLaws' division advancing along the Turnpike but further back.  Considering a lone attack on Chancellorsville, Heth instead probed the Union position along the road.  Two regiments astride the turnpike gave a rebel yell from the high ground on the right of the picture and charged, driving in Union pickets in the swampy valley below and learning that the Yankees had set up a defensive position.

     That night, while Sykes fell back to Chancellorsville, McLaws' division occupied this high ground and set up a defensive position facing the treeline in the distance.  On May 2nd, unusually strong and active Confederate pickets clashed with their Union counterparts on the small distant ridge to distract Union attention from Jackson's flank march and to make the Confederate force here appear larger than it was.  In the final assault on May 3rd, McLaws' division crossed this terrain on their way to the Chancellorsville intersection.

Touring Note:  This area is well hidden by the park service.  Be sure you have the location mapped out ahead of time as it is difficult to find.  Despite doing so myself, I nearly drove by the unmarked parking lot.


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