Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Chancellorsville, Battle of (May 1863) from Andromeda Encyclopedic Dictionary of World History

Battle of the American Civil War in Virginia, marked by brilliant countermarches on both sides. It was Robert E. Lee's greatest defensive victory, enabling his advance to Gettysburg. The Union commander Joseph Hooker squandered his tactical advantages, and General “StonewallJackson was killed.

Summary Article: Chancellorsville, battle of
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

May 2–4, 1863, in the American Civil War. Late in Apr., 1863, Joseph Hooker, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, moved against Robert E. Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia (less than half the size of Hooker's) had remained entrenched on the south side of the Rappahannock River after the battle of Fredericksburg. Hooker, with four corps, crossed the river above Fredericksburg and took up a strong position near Chancellorsville, located 10 mi (16 km) W of Fredericksburg; he sent John Sedgwick, with two corps, to cross below Chancellorsville. Although outflanked, Lee did not retreat but, leaving 10,000 men under Jubal A. Early to watch Sedgwick, moved on Hooker, who fell back to a defensive position in the wilderness around Chancellorsville. Lee attacked on May 2: T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson led his 2d Corps on a brilliant 15-mi (24-km) flanking movement against the Union right, while Lee, with his small remaining force, feinted along the rest of the line. Jackson fell upon and routed the surprised Union troops but, unfortunately for the South, was mortally wounded by his own men. The next day the Confederate wings united (James Ewell Brown Stuart succeeding Jackson) and drove Hooker back further. Hooker failed to use his superior forces, but called for Sedgwick, who drove Early from Marye's Heights (May 3) and reached Salem Church, 5 mi (8 km) W of Fredericksburg. There, part of Lee's force joined Early and repulsed Sedgwick (May 4–5). Sedgwick and Hooker then withdrew across the river. Chancellorsville, Lee's last great victory, led to his invasion of the North in the Gettysburg campaign.

  • See Bigelow, J. , The Campaign of Chancellorsville (1910);.
  • Stackpole, E. J. , Chancellorsville: Lee's Greatest Battle (1958);.
  • J. Luvaas; H. W. Nelson, The U.S. Army Guide to the Battles of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg (1989).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Chancellorsville, Battle of
American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide

In December 1862, at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River, Lee won his most one-sided victory of the war, shattering Union major...

Full text Article CHANCELLORSVILLE, BATTLE OF (2-3 May 1863)
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History

Abrick tavern and family residence at the intersection of the Orange Turnpike and Orange Plank Road, Chancellorsville lent its name to one of...

Full text Article Chancellorsville
Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History

After the battle of Fredericksburg, the Army of Northern Virginia enjoyed four months of inactivity. Then came the news that the Union army...

See more from Credo