Battle of Chancellorsville

"Battle of Chancellorsville," by Kurz and Allison

“Battle of Chancellorsville,” by Kurz and Allison

The Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863) was a Civil War battle fought in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. It ended in a Confederate victory and is often considered General Robert E. Lee’s “perfect battle,” as he successfully defeated an army more than twice the size of his own.

Background & Union Strategy

In April 1863, Union general Joseph Hooker—the new commander of the Army of the Potomac—decided to move against Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia was situated at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Hooker planned to send a third of his army to Fredericksburg to hold Lee there, while his cavalry would cut Lee’s communication lines and the majority of his army would sweep around to outflank Lee from the rear and left.

Battle of Chancellorsville

Hooker’s movement to Chancellorsville, a crossroads not far from Lee’s left flank, was well-executed. But Lee—although outnumbered more than two to one (roughly 130,000 to 60,000)—left only a small part of his troops at Fredericksburg and moved the rest under Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to face Hooker. When Jackson began to push back against Hooker’s vanguard, Hooker took up a defensive position in a brushy, difficult area known as the Wilderness.

Lee and Jackson decided to split the army once again, leaving a portion of troops under Lee to distract Hooker’s front, while Jackson would take the bulk of the troops to hit the Union’s exposed right flank. The gamble paid off, and on the evening of May 2, Jackson’s troops caught the Union right by surprise and it crumbled.

The fighting continued for a few more days, with the most intense occurring on May 3. Besides fighting around Chancellorsville, there was also fighting at Fredericksburg and Salem Church. Eventually, Hooker retreated across the Rappahannock River, giving the Confederates the victory, despite heavy casualties on both sides.

Significance

Lee’s victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville would give him the necessary momentum for his campaign into the North. However, although the battle was a Confederate triumph, Lee sustained a significant loss in the death of Jackson, one of the best Confederate generals.

Learn more about the Battle of Chancellorsville through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Battle of Chancellorsville

Map of General Joseph Hooker's field of operations around the Battle of ChancellorsvilleMap of General Joseph Hooker's field of operations around the Battle of Chancellorsville Thu, May 7, 1863 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comIllinois newspaper editorial reacts to news of the Battle of ChancellorsvilleIllinois newspaper editorial reacts to news of the Battle of Chancellorsville Thu, May 7, 1863 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comVirginia newspaper gives a summary of the Battle of Chancellorsville from a Confederate perspectiveVirginia newspaper gives a summary of the Battle of Chancellorsville from a Confederate perspective Tue, May 12, 1863 – Page 2 · Staunton Spectator (Staunton, Virginia) · Newspapers.comSouthern newspaper reacts to the death of Thomas Southern newspaper reacts to the death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at Battle of Chancellorsville Tue, May 12, 1863 – Page 1 · Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina) · Newspapers.comLetters from Ohio soldiers about the Battle of Chancellorsville, including casualtiesLetters from Ohio soldiers about the Battle of Chancellorsville, including casualties Wed, May 13, 1863 – Page 3 · Urbana Union (Urbana, Ohio) · Newspapers.comLetter from Colonel Madill about Pennsylvania troops at the Battle of ChancellorsvilleLetter from Colonel Madill about Pennsylvania troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville Thu, May 14, 1863 – 2 · Bradford Reporter (Towanda, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comNorthern newspaper editorial about the Union loss at ChancellorsvilleNorthern newspaper editorial about the Union loss at Chancellorsville Fri, May 15, 1863 – 2 · The St Johnsbury Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, Vermont) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from a re-printed Boston newspaper article with a Northern perspective on ChancellorsvilleExcerpt from a re-printed Boston newspaper article with a Northern perspective on Chancellorsville Sat, May 16, 1863 – 1 · The Evansville Daily Journal (Evansville, Indiana) · Newspapers.comVermont newspaper editorial gives opinion of Union loss at Chancellorsville and summarizes battleVermont newspaper editorial gives opinion of Union loss at Chancellorsville and summarizes battle Sat, May 16, 1863 – 2 · Burlington Daily Times (Burlington, Vermont) · Newspapers.comNorthern newspaper writes about the death of Thomas Northern newspaper writes about the death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at Chancellorsville Wed, May 20, 1863 – 2 · The Lancaster Examiner (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comConfederate perspective on the Battle of Chancellorsville written May 6, 1863Confederate perspective on the Battle of Chancellorsville written May 6, 1863 Thu, May 21, 1863 – 1 · The Daily True Delta (New Orleans, Louisiana) · Newspapers.comCorrespondent to a British newspaper writes a summary of the Battle of ChancellorsvilleCorrespondent to a British newspaper writes a summary of the Battle of Chancellorsville Sat, May 23, 1863 – 3 · The Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser (Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.comExample of a newspaper casualty list from Battle of Chancellorsville for North Carolina regimentsExample of a newspaper casualty list from Battle of Chancellorsville for North Carolina regiments Tue, May 26, 1863 – Page 2 · Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina) · Newspapers.comLetter from Captain S.B. West about North Carolina troops during the Battle of ChancellorsvilleLetter from Captain S.B. West about North Carolina troops during the Battle of Chancellorsville Mon, Jun 1, 1863 – Page 2 · The Daily Progress (Raleigh, North Carolina) · Newspapers.comObituary for Connecticut soldier who died from wounds received at Battle of ChancellorsvilleObituary for Connecticut soldier who died from wounds received at Battle of Chancellorsville Thu, Jun 4, 1863 – 2 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.comConfederate veteran gives eyewitness account of his experiences during Battle of ChancellorsvilleConfederate veteran gives eyewitness account of his experiences during Battle of Chancellorsville Fri, Jul 11, 1890 – Page 4 · The Weekly Star (Wilmington, North Carolina) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from Excerpt from "The Cavalry at Chancellorsville" in the Journal of the U.S. Cavalry Association Mon, Jun 1, 1891 – 5 · Journal of the U.S. Cavalry Association (Leavenworth, Kansas) · Newspapers.comConfederate veteran from the 5th Alabama regiment shares memories of the Battle of ChancellorsvilleConfederate veteran from the 5th Alabama regiment shares memories of the Battle of Chancellorsville Thu, Apr 3, 1902 – 2 · Greensboro Watchman (Greensboro, Alabama) · Newspapers.comStory of Annie Etheridge, who was presented with a medal for conduct during Chancellorsville battleStory of Annie Etheridge, who was presented with a medal for conduct during Chancellorsville battle Mon, May 26, 1913 – 4 · Buffalo Evening News (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.comPhotos of John Sedgwick, Stonewall Jackson, and Joseph Hooker--generals at ChancellorsvillePhotos of John Sedgwick, Stonewall Jackson, and Joseph Hooker--generals at Chancellorsville Wed, May 28, 1913 – Page 4 · The Beloit Daily Call (Beloit, Kansas) · Newspapers.com
"Battle of Chancellorsville," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/civil-war/battle-of-chancellorsville/ : accessed August 24, 2019)