Historic America

Chancellorsville Battlefield

The Chancellorsville battlefield is part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Fought between April 30 and May 6, 1863 near the village of Chancellorsville, the battle pitted  Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War. The battle resulted in approximately 30,500 total casualties.

The Battle of Chancellorsville is considered Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s most stunning victory. In violation of basic military rules, he divided his army in the face of a superior enemy and sent Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps around the Union army’s flank. Jackson’s ill-fated death, accidentally shot by one of his own soldiers, was devastating to the Confederate cause.

Pictured above is a re-creation outlining the Chancellor House at the intersection of modern-day Route 610 (Orange Plank Road) and Route 3 (Orange Turnpike). Union General Joseph Hooker used the Chancellor House has a headquarters during the battle. He was slightly injured when a cannonball struck a porch pillar he was leaning against.

This is the “Lee-Jackson Bivouac Site,” where Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jackson conferred for the last time, on the night of May 1, 1863. Here they developed their plan for a surprise flank attack. Two trees were planted in their honor.

During the battle, Hooker inexplicably abandoned this high ground, known as Hazel Grove, in the center of Lee’s divided army. Lee ordered 25 artillery pieces onto the hill, where they bombarded the Union army to great effect. You can see how far the heights overlook the battlefield, with a clear path to Fairview at the Union center.

Today, the Chancellorsville Visitors Center is near the spot where Stonewall Jackson was wounded by friendly fire. A large monument marks the spot and a well-maintained trail traces his footsteps on that fateful evening. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is open from dawn to dusk. The Chancellorsville Visitors Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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