Chancellorsville|The Wilderness (Location Key)


Two of the major battles of the Civil War were fought near Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The first, the Battle of Chancellorsville, took place between April 30 to May 6, 1863. According to Cass Edmonds' account of the fighting in Go Down, Moses, Union commander Joseph Hooker sits on the front gallery of a house in Chancellorsville "drinking rum toddies and telegraphing Lincoln that he had defeated Lee" (272). In fact the battle was a major defeat for the Union forces, although the Confederate victory was complicated by the death of Stonewall Jackson, one of the most successful generals in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Jackson's surprise flank attack along "the Plank Road" at the end of the battle's first day routed the Union troops, though shortly afterwards Jackson himself was accidentally shot by his own troops (272). The second occurred a year later but only a few miles away, when for the first time Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army into action against the Army of Robert E. Lee; this was the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864. Cass refers to it, though not by name, as an example of how the Southern cause was defeated by fate, or an unjust god; his evidence in this case is the way General Longstreet was also "shot . . . by his own men in the dark by mistake just as Jackson was" (273). The violent battle resulted in the deaths of over 5000 men. Longstreet, however, recovered from his wound.

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Chancellorsville|The Wilderness
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Chancellorsville|The Wilderness