The Friends of California Libre...

30 April 2013

The Battle of Chancellorsville

150 years ago today...the Chancellorsville campaign began in northern Virginia.  Usually considered a high point in the career of General Robert E. Lee, the battle started as Union General Joseph Hooker crossed the Rappahannock River, intending to encircle Lee's army between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania County.  Even though his force was less than half that of Hooker's, Lee made the daring decision to leave a token force behind at Fredericksburg, and suddenly attacked Hooker.  Lee divided his army once again, attacking Hooker from two sides, and by 3 May had convinced the Union leader to withdraw.  Lee had his victory at a high price; he had lost nearly a quarter of his men, including his best commander, Stonewall Jackson.

Lee began to believe in his own invincibility after Chancellorsville, and initiated the campaign that would eventually end the war, the invasion of Pennsylvania at Gettysburg.  This battle was also notable as the one portrayed by Stephen Crane in The Red Badge of Courage thirty years later.

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