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Battle of Chancellorsville Begins

Discussion in 'The Eastern Theater' started by frontrank2, May 1, 2016.

  1. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    May 1, 1863 - the Battle of Chancellorsville begins in Virginia. Earlier in the year, General Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac into Virginia to confront Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker had recently replaced Ambrose Burnside, who presided over the Army of the Potomac for one calamitous campaign the previous December: the Battle of Fredericksburg. At that conflict, the Yankees amassed over 14,000 casualties while the Rebels suffered some 5,000 casualties.
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-chancellorsville-begins

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    Jackson's troops outflank and attack the Union 11th Corps
     
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  3. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Many historians claim that this was Lee's greatest victory. The ANV was outnumbered more than 2 - 1, but it was a costly victory. The Confederates went into the fight with only 60,000 troops, yet suffered 13,303 casualties. There were 1,665 killed ( including Gen. Stonewall Jackson ), 9,081 wounded, and 5,919 missing.
     
  4. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Gen. Hooker and the AOP had 97, 382 men equipped and present for duty. They executed a fine march and river crossing , placing 80,000 troops behind the ANV in the Wilderness region of Virginia. Hooker boldly stated that " Lee could either ingloriously fly or give battle on ground of our choosing." But Hooker lost his nerve when he encountered fierce counterattacks by the Confederate's rearguard. The Federals lost their advantage when Hooker halted to erect defenses near the Chancellor Farm. On May 1 Lee arrived and planned for his ( and Jackson's ) famous flanking maneuver.
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  5. Alaskazimm

    Alaskazimm Private

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    At least according to Sears, it wasn't that Hooker had lost his nerve, but that a defensive fight was what Hooker had planned all along. Hooker had seen the carnage at Sharpsburg and Fredricksburg from mounting attacks and knew that attacking would be very costly - better to make Lee do the attacking against prepared defenses.
     
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  6. Pat Answer

    Pat Answer First Sergeant

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    "We're good, Couch. I've got Lee right where he wants me now..."

    :D
     
  7. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Jackson's Flank Attack - May 2, 1863

    After learning that the Union right flank was "hanging in the air," Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson settled upon a highly aggressive plan to march Jackson's forces around the Union positions and onto that exposed flank. After a hard and dusty march on May 2, Jackson's column reached its jumping off point for their attack upon the unsuspecting Federal right flank. At 5:20 pm, Jackson’s line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union Eleventh Corps. However, some Federal troops did rally, resist the advance, and counterattack. Disorganization and darkness ended the fighting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was shot by his own troops in the darkness and fell mortally wounded—a serious blow to the Army of Northern Virginia.
    http://www.civilwar.org/battlefield...ack-map.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

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    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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  8. 1stMN

    1stMN Sergeant

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    One of the greatest "what ifs" in the Civil War.
     

    Attached Files:

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  9. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    May 3rd, 1863 - Confederates capture Hazel Grove

    The Union Army was in a state of confusion following Jackson's troops outflanking them and bursting through the woods the evening of May 2. The Rebels drove the Yankees back almost two miles before the attack was finally halted. Even so, the AOP was still in a position to give the ANV a serious defeat because they had superior numbers and were between Lee's divided forces. Hooker still controlled Hazel Grove, a prime location for artillery. Jeb Stuart, who took over for the fallen Jackson, was planning to attack this spot but Hooker had already decided to abandon it. Once Stuart deployed artillery there, they commenced shelling the Union lines creating more casualties than Jackson's attack of the prior day!
    Hooker himself was wounded when an artillery shell struck the column he was leaning against. Stunned, Hooker took a shot of brandy and ordered the retreat from the Chancellorsville area, which allowed Jackson’s men to rejoin the bulk of Lee’s troops.

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  10. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

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    I think the actions on May 3 often get overlooked -- overshadowed by the previous day's. May 3 was the bloodiest day of the battle and, according to Sears, the second bloodiest day of the war with 21,357 casualties total. The attacks on Hooker's line at Fairview produced some of the most intense fighting & heaviest losses of the battle, and add to that second Fredericksburg and Salem Church as well.
     
  11. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    That sounds like a great idea - but if it were really true he picked a sorry place to execute it! With no appreciable fields of fire due to the heavy Wilderness defenders were actually at a disadvantage; plus the defensive bulge he occupied was tailor-made for artillery crossfire like that Alexander showered on him from Hazel Grove once it was captured. Interior lines are certainly a good thing, but not when used like that!
     
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  12. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    It's tempting to think that you can just take a defensive position and the enemy will helpfully beat himself to death against it - the "Longstreet strategy" for Gettysburg comes to mind - but the other guy isn't always that obliging. Up to that point Hooker had done brilliantly; then he decided the way to fight Lee and Jackson was to sit still and see what they would do next......
     
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  13. frontrank2

    frontrank2 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Guided by the light of a full moon, and eager to locate a new avenue of attack, Stonewall Jackson and eight other Confederate horsemen rode forward through the dense woods and thickets on the night of May 2, 1863. Returning towards the Confederate lines, Jackson’s party came under fire from men of the 18th North Carolina who were tired and on edge after a long day of marching and combat. Despite being at extreme range of the 18th North Carolina’s smoothbore muskets, Stonewall Jackson was struck by three different round balls – one in his raised right hand, two others in his left arm.

    During Jackson’s evacuation to the rear, his litter carriers, stumbling through the dark forest, dropped the general twice to the ground, further exacerbating Jackson’s loss of blood. Later that night, Jackson’s left arm was amputated and he was subsequently evacuated to Guinea Station where he died of pneumonia eight days later.
    www.civilwar.org

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  14. J. Horace

    J. Horace Corporal

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    Lee orders no trunks so they can travel lightly:

    april13, 1863.jpg typedapril13,1863.jpg
     
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  15. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    There's an intriguing question. On the one hand, Hooker did express a preference for fighting on the tactical defensive; on the other, his flanking force (joined by Couch's 2d Corps) had camped around Chancellorsville the night of April 30 and started out the next day with an aggressive push into Lee's rear. If he was truly committed to a defensive stance, he could have spent the day building and improving field fortifications for the rebels to expend themselves upon. Instead his troops left those positions and only fell back to them when vigorously opposed.

    It's often noted how daring Lee was to divide his forces, but Hooker had done the same thing. Granted it's not quite so daring for the larger army, but there was a period in which Hooker's flanking force was separated from the 1st and 6th Corps at Fredericksburg and the 5th on the march north of the Rappahannock. Flanking movements have been the keys to victory in many battles, but there is usually this moment of vulnerability if the attacker does not move expeditiously and retain the initiative.
     
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  16. Jamieva

    Jamieva 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    someone correct me if I'm wrong but I thought Hooker's plan was to have Sedgwick's force drive the ANV against his flanking force. The flanking force would be the anvil and Sedgwick the hammer. It does make me chuckle that Sedgwick would be the hammer since he was notoriously slow.
     
  17. jackt62

    jackt62 Sergeant Major

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    That's also how I understood Hooker's plan. In conception, the plan was brilliant and Hooker managed to successfully cross the AOTP upstream in an attempt to flank Lee, while Sedgwick would push the ANV from the Fredricksburg side. Unfortunately, the execution was bungled, the AOTP got mired in the Wilderness instead of quickly enveloping Lee's force and then of course, Hooker for whatever reason pulled back into a defensive mode. Interesting thought about Sedgwick in the role of the hammer given his slowness, but I'm wondering if that was simply done as a matter of logistics because Sedgwick's VI Corps was already located along the left flank of the AOTP.
     
  18. Jamieva

    Jamieva 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    The distance between the main force and Sedgwick also created major communication issues. Hooker pulled into a defensive shell because he's waiting for the ANV to be flushed to him by Sedgwick.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    If the Union force at Fredericksburg was supposed to be the 'hammer', why was most of it transferred to Chancellorsville? 2d Corps, then 3rd, then 1st, leaving only Sedgewick's 6th Corps to drive the entire ANV onto the 'anvil' - starting with pushing them off the heights which had defied the entire army in December. Historically Sedgewick was only able to storm Marye's Heights because all but one Confederate division had been drawn off to fight the Union main body around C'ville.

    Also, if the decisive move was supposed to be the thrust from Fredericksburg, you'd think Hooker would want to be there to manage it. As Jamieva mentioned, he couldn't effectively control both parts of the battle. In the hammer and anvil analogy, the anvil has the less complex task; the offensive against Lee and the ANV would rightly demand the commanding general's attention.
     
  20. Jamieva

    Jamieva 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    It's Hooker. On paper it all looked good
     
  21. Alaskazimm

    Alaskazimm Private

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    And the other thing to remember about all this is that the Union communications corps was extremely unreliable early in the campaign. Many of the telegraph and Beardslee (?) machine messages were either very delayed or garbled. As a for instance - Reynold's movement to extend the left flank of the Union line and shore up Howard's position was delayed six or more hours by orders arriving late. Of course, this had dire consequences for the Union.
     
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