Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chancellorsville - Scene of Stonewall Jackson's Final Battle

Chancellorsville Battlefield
Just seven miles off I-95 between Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., the National Park Service preserves a spot in an old road where famed Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was severely wounded in a friendly fire incident.

The Battle of Chancellorsville may well have been the most brilliant success of Jackson's military career. With a force of 30,000 men, he hit the right flank of the massive 120,000 man Army of the Potomac, delivering a shock that would lead the following day to one of the most embarrassing Union defeats of the entire Civil War.

Jackson's flank attack was a key element of General Robert E. Lee's stunning victory over the huge army of Union general Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker. Together the two generals used intelligence from Southern cavalry commander General "Jeb" Stuart to develope a plan that was wildly successful. Stuart had discovered that the right flank of the Army of the Potomac was "in the air" and vulnerable to attack. Lee and Jackson agreed that the latter officer should try to sweep around that flank and roll up the Union army.

Jackson's maneuver succeeded and he hit the very end of the Union lines late on the afternoon of May 2, 1863. The attack shocked the entire Federal army. Late in the day, with darkness and the smoke of battle obscuring visibility, Stonewall Jackson rode forward with his staff to examine the placement of the Union troops trying to resist his attacks. As he returned to his own lines, he was mistaken for the enemy and his own troops opened fire. The noted Confederate general toppled from the saddle, severely wounded. He died eight days later.

Jackson Monument
"Jeb" Stuart took command of Jackson's wing of the army and joined Lee in a smashing attack the next day that sent Hooker retreating across the Rappahannock River.

Key areas of the Chancellorsville Battlefield, including the site where Stonewall Jackson was wounded, are now part of of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park.

To learn more, please visit

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