Boom Goes the History Hero

Boom Goes the History

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Join us on a journey to the key battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War, unraveling the tales of valor, sacrifice, and pivotal moments that shaped the nation. We'll delve into some of the most significant chapters in American history, bringing the past to life with a unique blend of storytelling, expert analysis, and on-site exploration. 

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One of the seminal moments of Confederate memory occurred on the night of May 1st, 1863. Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan Stonewall Jackson sat down on a pair of cracker boxes to discuss plans for another day of fighting. I'm Chris Makowski for the American Battlefield Trust. We're presenting a 16-episode podcast series that explores one of the most consequential battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville. For the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville, the American Battlefield Trust headed into the field with a team of historians to trace the action of the first week of May 1863. In this episode, you'll hear from the Trust education manager Daniel T. Davis, Trust education specialist Sarah K. Byerly, and former National Park Service historian, Don Fonz. But first, we kick off this episode with the Trust's deputy education director, Chris White, as he, Dan Davis and I take a drive from the first day's battlefield to a spot known as the Lee Jackson Bivouac site.

All right. Welcome everybody to our next video here for the 160th Chancellorsville Live. I am Chris White, Chris Bukowski beside me, behind me is Dan Davis, we are actually going to do something a little bit different. You may have seen our Shiloh Driving Tour and our Gettysburg Driving Tour with Gary Adelman and Tim Smith of the West. So, what we're going to do here at Chancellorsville, 160, and you may have seen this already in our first video. We're going to drive a little bit around this battlefield. This is a huge battlefield that most people don't give it credit for. I mean, from where we're sitting over to Fredericksburg to the east, to my right, that is 10ish miles. Chancellorsville itself, sits about a mile and a half to my left out to the West. Behind me, to the South, about 12 miles to the South is Spotsylvania Courthouse. And then to the north, will be the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers and various different stages around us from about 3 miles to just a little bit over a mile from where we're sitting. So, this is a huge battlefield. So, we want to give you a little bit of an experience and we're actually starting from the first day at Chancellorsville. You better have watched our earlier video about the first day at Chancellorsville, because this is going to tie into that right now. And we're gonna go take a drive to one of the most famous meetings of the American Civil War, and that'll be the last meeting between General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. We'll have some other cast of characters in there as well, but those are the two primary folks that we talk the most about.

So, as we start off here from the first day at Fredericksburg, we are going to head out onto Route 3. We're facing to the north right now. We're facing off towards those rivers. If you're looking at the front camera, if you're looking at me, you're looking in the South. As we ride out here, Route 3 is off to our left. That is the Orange Turnpike, at times, this is both the Orange Turnpike and the Orange Plank Road because the two intersect, and in fact it became so confusing down here whenever they put the 911 system into place in Spotsylvania County that they had to make sure they differentiated between the two different roads, because this name was so interchangeable. We're heading out here towards the West, off to our right is the first day at Chancellorsville battlefield. Chancellorsville is a little bit over a mile to the front of us, and as we dip down here, we're going into the Lick Run Valley, we sometimes call this first day at Chancellorsville, internally, we call it FDAC, but we sometimes call it the Lick Run Battlefield. And Lick Run is down here along modern-day Route 3.

Chris, one of the things that's important about this steam is Confederates would be advancing from our rear toward our front, and as they would try to get across that stream, it's something that's going to break up their cohesion. So, as they try to kind of splash through and they have to get back in line, it's something that really causes some problems for them as they're making their assault against the Federals off in this direction.

Yeah, and as we come up on top of this hill, this is what we call McGee Hill. I call it McGee Ridge because it's more of a Ridge line than a hill. But in 1863 off to our left in the median would have been a small structure, the Newton House, we don't know much about that, but off to our front, right would have been the House of Absalom McGee. He's one of three McGees who would have lived in this area. This would have been a neighborhood of sorts if you were out here in 1863, you would have had Reuben McGee, you would have had Absalom McGee, you would have had another McGee out here, you would have had down the road, the Zoan Church, which is today near the Home Depot. You would have also had the McCartney house, which would have been where basically the Home Depot is today.

Janis Joplin and Bobby McGee.

Bobby McGee, of course, we always have to work in Janis Joplin. You also had Anne Lewis' house. She would have had one of the Alsops. I think it was Joseph Alsop's house out in this area. So, you would have had a lot of people living here. These would have mostly been subsistence farmers, hard for me to say with my fake tooth, and they would have been out here, you know, earning a living. Most of them don't own slaves. Most of them are out here are poor dirt farmers, as we would think of them. What we've now done is actually made a left off of Route 3, the Orange Turnpike, and we are now on Mclaws Drive. We're in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Off to our right will be the West and that will be the Chancellorsville area. Down straight ahead of us is the South, we're heading towards the Lee Jackson bivouac site and this area would have been Lee's central position during the Battle of Chancellorsville. A lot of people make a big deal out of the flank attack here at Chancellorsville. I think it's a little bit overblown, personally, because it leaves Lee's army in a terrible position, but, to bring us to the April 3rd – May 1st 1863, Lee has moved his army out into this direction, specifically under his de facto second in command, Stonewall Jackson. Jackson's troops establish the line in Zoan Church Ridge. They will then push forward on two parallel roads, the Orange Plank Road, which will cross here momentarily, and the Orange Turnpike. They will be coming down these roads, push Hooker back off of this high ground, which will point us off towards Chancellorsville, out towards the West. If you ever heard of the quip from George Gordon Meade saying if he can't hold the top of the hill, how does he expect to hold the bottom of the hill? We're on the top of the hill. The bottom of the hill is just out in front of us and he would been referring to McGee Ridge. This Ridge line is going to give Lee cover and concealment to mass Jackson's 31,000 or so men so that they can make that flank attack, which we'll talk about in this video as well as another video, and what he is also going to be able to do is bring reinforcements back to this point from Fredericksburg. Remember, at this point Lee's army we've broken up into two pieces. One is at Fredericksburg under Jubal Anderson Early as battle man, then we have a gap of about 10 miles till we get to about where we are, then we will have Lee break his army into another piece and that'll be Stonewall Jackson marching out and around us and he will launch an attack about four miles to the West, directly in front of us on the Union right flank. So, we have three different pieces of the Confederate Army at one point, and that doesn't even include Jeb Stewart, who's off doing his own thing for a while. So now what Lee has to do is have a central position, so people know where he is. He also can use this position for cover and concealment to move Jackson, Early can fall back this position if he needs to, Jackson can fall back to here, but most importantly, Lee can also fall back to the South. When people talk about the flag attack here at Chancellorsville, they talk about this audacious movement, and it is a calculated risk, I think that's the best way of putting it. And what Lee will end up doing is always making sure that his army has an escape route. Jubal Early at Fredericksburg will be able to hinge his force on a place called Prospect Hill and fall back towards Spotsylvania Courthouse or toward Robert E. Lee.

I'm gonna lean in here just a second, Chris, because we can see forest in front of us. The woods at the time would have been even thicker than this. For a second ago, we were looking across that field here at Mclaws wedge, that would have been wooded at the time. It's wonderful that it's open now because now you can see the terrain and how you've got all these dips, you've got these streamlets that run through it, men get lost out in there, and so it's a really confusing spot, but we've got a really good interpretive opportunity here to really kind of take a look at what the landscape looked like.

Yeah, and what's interesting about this landscape, again to really fully understand, as we've talked about in other videos, a battle you have to get out on the ground, you have to walk the ground for yourself and analyze the movements and the decisions that the commanders are making. But the ground out here on the claws trail is really very similar to the ground that we just visited, we were at in the earlier video, it's very undulating, which is interesting just to get a sense of how the terrain is here, just to the east of Chancellorsville. Why it was so important for Hooker to try to get out of the wilderness, clear this dense secondary growth forest so he can bring his numbers and his artillery to bear. Now going back to what Chris mentioned earlier talking about the families that lived West of Fredericksburg, what's interesting about those families, not only are they dirt poor farmers, but there's also a fairly strong Union sentiment running through the community here around Chancellorsville, to the point where after Joseph Hooker takes command, he establishes what is called the BMI, the Bureau of Military Information. It's an intelligence arm of the army of the Potomac for runners to modern FBI and CIA and the head of the BMI, George Sharpe, is actually getting information, having information sent across the Rappahannock River from the rear of the Confederate Army from the families out here in this area. He has operatives in the rear of the Confederate army that he is communicating with on a fairly regular basis.

So, out in this area, we're heading to the South, heading almost to Lee Jackson bivouac site. Lee will have the opportunity, if he's attacked on this position, his men would be facing off to my right out towards the West to fall back towards the area of Gordonville or Spotsylvania County as well. He always has an escape route out here as does Stonewall Jackson if he's caught on the flag march, he will have an opportunity to fall back, but the Union Army still could pick this Confederate army apart in three distinct pieces. Now Lee would have been very prominent up on this ridge line, we've seen a lot of him. We'd also seen Lafeyette Mclaws, or Lafayette Mclaws, as he is known in in Georgia, but Mclaws is a West Point graduate of the class of 1842. He comes out here, he's the vision commander, his division probably fights the most at Chancellorsville, if you ask me. And when he comes out here at one point, he needs to get a better view, so he goes to one of those houses, the House of Absalom Baird, Absalom McGee- I'm thinking about someone from my hometown, Absalon Baird who is a Union general- McGee's house, and they pushed the general up onto the roof of one of the buildings so he can get a better view while he's out there. We're also going to see with him artillery. Artillery would have been up here, this would have been some of the guns of Mclaws’ batteries and the artillery actually would have been tucked in the wood line along the left side of Mclaws Drive, they would push their muzzles out to the edge of the wood line, fire, and let the recoil come back in, load the guns undercover, push them back out. So, they're using the Crest of this Ridge line, very important for the gunners. And one last story has to do with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the dogs. There's a dog with the troop Georgia artillery up here named Robert E. Lee, he's apparently a great coward and will hide behind a tree any time the battle comes about, and they talked about him being a shirker that they had picked up, but the battery loved this dog so much. They also had another dog named Stonewall Jackson, and this dog would run up and down the line barking at anyone, and when the battery had to shift positions, which it did a few times during this battle, someone would grab the dog, they said they normally had to dive in and tackle the dog because he would kind of scamper away, and throw him into a limber chest where you carry the ammunition. They’d stuff him in there, they’d move to a new position, they’d spring them free, and he’d go running around again. Unfortunately, we don't know exactly what happened to Stonewall Jackson. We know Lee survived the war, Lee the dog. Stonewall Jackson, we think survived the war, but the Louisiana Tigers under Harry Hayes stole the dog multiple times and finally absconded with the dog sometime in 1863, and the Troop Artillery never saw him again. So, we're going to jump out here at the Lee Jackson bivouac site, talk about the real Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee.

Ok, so we've jumped out of the car and now we are at tour stop #5 at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Specifically, the Chancellorsville unit, and we are right at an intersection, as you can tell. And this is the intersection of the Orange Plank Road, which is just where that van went to, as well as Mclaws drive today, we call that the furnace Road in 1863. This is one of the most important intersections in the Chancellorsville area, the most important intersection is the Chancellorsville Crossroads, which is where Joe Hookers headquarters is located, just about a mile from where we're standing. And here we are again. We drove down this road. We went right past through here and now we're the Lee Jackson bivouac site. Why do we call it that? This is where Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee will meet on the evening of May 1st into the morning of May 2nd and then they will have their final meeting close to this area as Stonewall Jackson marches off on his flank attack here at Chancellorsville. It's a really interesting area we're to bring some folks on to talk about, but one of the things we have out here is one of the 10 monuments that were placed out here are markers by James Powers Smith. These markers are actually very, very tall. This is very deeply buried into the ground and on this side of it will say Lee Jackson bivouac. It's a little bit out of the sun right now, you won't be able to see it, but a New Yorker actually pays to put these in about $250 a piece, and then place them around 10 spots on the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park battlefields. Before this was a national military park, so we'll see things at Prospect Hill, at Fredericksburg we'll see one of these. We'll see one at Lee's headquarters along Mine Rd. near Fredericksburg. We have one here, we have one at Salem Church, and we have others at places like Spotsylvania Courthouse and the Stonewall Jackson death site, once known as the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. And this is one of those markers that's out here, there's another one I know Chris Mackowski wants to talk about. And without further ado, I want to bring on the greatest living apostle of Stonewall Jackson, and that will be Chris Makowski. Usually when we talk about him, especially around the anniversary of Jackson's death on May 10th, 1863. Tears, he's lighting candles, there's usually carnations and roses laid out in places. So, Chris, I hope that you brought your hanky with you.

Just the thought of what’s about to happen is stirring me deep inside. This has really become one of the most iconic spots in all of Civil war history because it's really one of the birth places of the Lost Cause Myth. What's about to happen with the Confederate commanders here is really going to influence the way we tell the story of the Civil War for 160 years, and you're going to have the great Confederate chieftain, the great Confederate martyr, they're going to have their final meeting in this spot, and we'll talk a little bit about how that ties into the mythology in just a second. To play off what Chris was talking about with orientation, off to my right we're going to see the Old Plank Road, this is where one of the spears of Hooker’s advance March down in that direction under Henry Slocum in the 12th corps. And when they fall back, they're going to come from my left to my right, leaving detritus in their wake. Confederates are going to take advantage of some of that detritus, including some abandoned cracker boxes as they then come and fill in that gap. So, we're going to have Confederates coming down that road in pursuit of the Federals. They're also going to be coming in along the Turnpike where we were driving earlier, and they're going to begin to fill in along this Ridge, McGee Ridge, as Chris has talked about. So, this is when Jackson and Lee finally are able to get together, able to confer about the day's events and what they might be able to do next. Now of course, we know that Lee's been reacting to Hooker waiting for Hooker to make the first moves of this, but then when Lee came out, met Hooker on the battlefield, Hooker surrenders the initiative and that's the one card that Lee is always looking to play. And so, when he confers with Jackson here in this spot, they're going to talk about what they can do to then take the fight to Joe Hooker. To talk about that, I'm going to ask my friend Don Fonz to come on here. Don is a former historian here at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and he's got some great stories to share with us. Don is one of my mentors, one of Chris's mentors, has done a tremendous amount for us to help us develop as historians, was instrumental in the publication of our first book, Chancellorsville Forgotten Front, about the battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church. And I'll ask Don to come on in here. Don, as the Confederates are getting together and trying to figure out what their next move is. What are some of the options that they have available?

Well, in those days there are really only three options. You can attack the enemy on the left, you can attack them on the right, or you could attack them straight down the center. Center attacks, of course, were usually pretty costly, and especially here at Chancellorsville, Lee could not afford a lot of casualties because he was already so heavily outnumbered. So that left pretty much the right flank and the left flank. Earlier on May the 1st, Lee had taken the opportunity to go out and personally do a reconnaissance of the right flank area up closer to the Rappahannock River, and he had found that that was not a possible point of attack because there are very, very steep ravines and gullies there which would have made it very difficult for his troops to negotiate. So that really only left one other flank, and that was the Union right flank, or at least left flank over in this direction. And that was being patrolled by Jeb Stuart's cavalry. And that day- that evening, Jeb Stewart came back to the intersection here where Lee and Jackson were, and gave them good news, and that was that the Union right flank was, to use his term, “up in the air.” In other words, it wasn't resting on any stream or mount or other natural obstacle. It was just kind of dangling out there, almost asking to be hit. Well, that obviously was the spot that Lee and Jackson wanted to attack. The question was, could they attack it? To do so, they're going to need to get their troops from here all the way around to that right flank, a good 10-12 mile distance, all in the course of a single day, and get there in time to make the attack. They couldn't March so close to the Union line as to be seen, yet they couldn't March so far away as to make it take more than that one day's time. So, the question was, were there rows that fit those requirements? Surprisingly Lee didn’t know. What was Lee's background? He was an engineer. Engineers like roads and things and maps, but Lee surprisingly, had not had any maps made of this area during the entire preceding winter. So, he had to now figure out where the roads were and to do that, he's going to take a Stonewall Jackson's chaplain, Beverly Tucker Lacey, who had been a minister in this area and knew some of the people who lived here, and he's also going to send Jackson's topographical engineer Jed Hotchkiss, and they're going to ride down the road to talk with a guy named Charles Wellford. Wellford ran the big furnace that we'll be seeing a little bit later on, and so he knew all the roads in this area and he's going to show these two gentlemen a way that Jackson can get his forces from here, all the way around to attack the Union right flank. So, with this news, Jed Hotchkiss is now going to come back here to the intersection, wake up Lee and Jackson, and sitting on one of those cracker boxes that Chris just talked about, they're going to sit down and over this fire and begin looking at this map that Hotchkiss has now sketched out for them. As Hotchkiss shows them the route they need to take, he's going to turn to Jackson and ask rhetorically, “What do you intend to do?” Jackson, who's very literal mind, sketched the same route with his finger and said, “I'm going to take my trips around here and attack Joe Hooker.” At that point he's going to ask a very important question, he's gonna say, “What do you intend to make this movement with? In other words, how many men are you going to take with you on this daylight venture?” And Jackson without batting an eye said “My entire corps” minus, of course, earliest division, which had been left back in Fredericksburg. That was about 30 out of the 45,000 troops that Lee had here at Chancellorsville. That meant that Jackson is going to leave Lee with just 15,000 men to face this unknown horde of Union soldiers, we know now that's more than 70,000 men, and hold them here for a full day while Jackson makes this daylight March through the woods. Even Lee was stunned by the temerity of that suggestion. But after a moment he said, “Well, go ahead then.” And so, Jackson now gleefully gallops on down the road to get his troops ready for this March. The next morning, Jackson's going to come back up here, take a left turn and follow his troops down this road, but before he joins them in this March, he's going to stop here and have a brief meeting with General Lee. We don't know what the two discussed, it was obviously just some last-minute details about this movement. All we do know is that Jackson at one point is going to point his finger toward the head of his column and go galloping off. This will be the last time that Lee and Jackson will ever meet.

And that's why that becomes such a moment, rich in possibility. What did they say? What happens? And of course, history knows what's going to happen, and so that just makes this a pregnant moment with possibilities, imagery, symbolism. I want to kind of do one of my favorite things and create a human map here for a second to illustrate why that flag is so important. So, I'm going to get all of the folks who have joined us here. Jim Talbot from Central Virginia Battlefield trust, I'm gonna ask you to stand right here next to Don Fonz. I'm gonna ask Dan Davis to come on in here and join us as well. We have all the way from the West Coast. Susan Barley is Joining us, and I’m gonna leave Sarah Kay Barley behind the camera. Susan, why don't you come here? Dan, close up ranks. Stand right next to Don. Here's why flank is so important. If I'm going to attack these guys, let's say they're the Federals and I'm the way outnumbered Confederates, and I just attack funnily. How many of you guys can be shooting at me right now? Oh, look at them and they're, like, double barrel. I'm totally getting it here. But if I come to the flank and I attack, now how many of you can shoot at me? At the point of contact, it's one-on-one. I still have to fight all four of them, but I can do it one at a time. So that's why as they're looking at the vulnerabilities of the federal position, which is behind Sarah and the camera right now, they identify the flank as being that key area that Don mentioned because at the point of contact, it's only one-on-one, and that's going to allow Lee to take advantage of his ability to surprise and attack and not get overwhelmed by those numbers. I'm gonna ask Dan Davis to come on here. He's going to do the famous American Battlefield Trust “microphone switch” with Don Fonz and come on here and talk just a few moments. After that, we're going to pitch it over to Sarah to talk a little bit about the importance of staff work because that really is what's going to provide the intelligence that these two Confederate commanders need to figure out this plan. Dan.

Thanks, Chris. Chris has talked a lot about symbolism, about the lost cause mythology, about memory here and it's really from this point in time, this moment, the night of May 1st into the early morning hours of May, the 2nd, 1863 that we really look through this lens at Robert E Lee. and Stonewall Jackson. Fast forward a little bit and trying not to give away too much of the story or another story I'm about to tell, Lee will ultimately divide his army three times here at Chancellorsville. We will know this battle conventionally, as Lee's greatest victory here on this field. It gives him the momentum that he needs after the Battle of Fredericksburg to launch a second Northern invasion. And this is through the lens, this is how we view Robert E Lee. We view him here at Chancellorsville. This great victory that he has, and we essentially, I think he's lifted up as this great strategic and tactical commander. Well, let's flip the script a little bit. There's another engagement that takes place some 13 years later, after this battle out West in the Montana Territory. Where an officer in the United States Cavalry will divide his force not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. And he is soundly defeated by the Sioux in Northern Cheyenne on June 25th, 1876. Now, had George Custer been a little bit more successful and comparing him to Robert E Lee, how would we, after both commanders divide their forces multiple times against a superior foe. How would we view Custer today had he been victorious? How would we view Lee today had he lost this battle to Joseph Hooker. And now I'm going to turn it over to my colleague Sarah Barley.

Thanks Dan for sharing those observations. And I just wanted to jump in and talk a little bit about staff officers because we're here at the Lee Jackson Bivouac site, and you know some of the things that the others have been sharing about what we know of Lee and Jackson's meeting, it's recorded by staff officers, some in their journals, others in their post war writings. And, I think it's important that we keep in mind that we talk about Lee, we talk about Jackson, and we talk about these orders that they put into motion, but who's actually helping to put those orders into motion? Because Jackson doesn't go and talk to all of his division commanders and give them all those little details at one time, he's going to have his staff officers taking those messages, giving them to couriers, getting it ready for this march, and then you're going to have staff officers playing a role on the march. And this is true on any civil war battle, any Civil War Battlefront campaign planning, you've got the generals making the decisions, but then you have their staff helping to carry it out. So those could be their adjutant generals, you have their supply officers, ones that are making sure that there's enough ammunition coming up, you have the engineers, Jed Hotchkiss was mentioned, Jackson's map maker, we have Reverend Tucker Lacy, who's on Jackson staff as a chaplain who brings his knowledge of the area right here to this spot. And I think it's just interesting to keep that in mind, that we talk about Lee, we talk about Jackson, we talk about Hooker and, you know, keep in mind that there's a lot of people around their headquarters helping them carry out these huge decisions that they're making. And touching back to the concept of memory, we have these staff officers who are recording, either at the time or later their memories of the events, and that really ties into how we understand some of those moments of decision, whether it's Hooker at the Chancellor House or Lee and Jackson here. Chris?

Why am I not surprised? I walk over to reset the cameras and I come back, and Dan Davis is talking about George Custer. Chris is behind the camera crying. To add in to what Sarah had to say about staff officers. Yeah, they do a lot out here, but they're also not doing a lot of other things. They're also creating problems. Robert Shelton is one of the worst staff officers in any army, of any war. And out here at Chancellorsville, he is going to misinterpret Robert's orders, which he's done before on other battlefields and nearly cost them the Fredericksburg sector during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, which we'll talk about in another video. Will also have the General Van Allen, who's only been on Hooker’s staff for 10 days, who's at the Chancellor's House whenever Joe Hooker is wounded on May 3rd, giving away part of the story later on. And Dan Allen is not taking the lead while he is there because he's a political general, he's not a west pointer, he's not helping to make decisions while Joe Hooker is severely concussed. He's not helping to bring in the second in command of the Army, Darius Couch, to take over for Hooker, who needed to give up or relinquish his command. And then we have Dan Butterfield, who I likened to Frank Burns from Mash. He is a guy who, if you read Marcina Patrick's diary, he's the provost Marshall of the Army of the Potomac. Think of him as the military police. He's also described as the greatest living fossil of the Cenozoic era, so he's kind of a crusty old guy. He is going to claim that whenever Hooker left the army to go up to Washington over the winter of 1862-63, anytime that happens that Butterfield would come in and hold as many meetings as possible, puff out his chest and try to be that important guy and it always reminded me of an episode in season five whenever Frank decided to move the camp from one side of the road to the other just because he could, because Colonel Potter was away. Butterfield, by the way, is just not a nice guy on top of things. But he's not here, he's actually stationed over in Falmouth and whenever the President of the United States start to ask questions on May 3rd, “Where Sedgwick.” “What's up with Hooker?” “What's going on there?” Butterfield will deflect rather than giving the commander-in-chief all the information they need. So, the staff officers are important, but they’re also someone we have to be very wary of after the war. Think of the show entourage on HBO. The only reason why all of those guys have any sort of touch or claim to fame is because of Vinny. Because Vinny is the guy who's the who's going on Aquaman, the first movie, not the one with Jason Momoa. All these other ones. These guys are tied to Stonewall Jackson's fame. They're tied to Robert E Lee, to Joseph Hooker, and whenever their star rises, so does their fame, and whenever it falls, so does theirs. Some of the early biographers of Stonewall Jackson are former staff officers. You have to take all of what they have to say with about a pound of salt because remember, over what they're saying about Jackson may have been true, but a lot of times it was embellished. And that's not just about Jackson, that happens about a lot of them, Dan Butterfield would do the same thing. So, as we stand out here, those are some things to remember. I can see Chris Mackowski's ready to Gustavo Smith me and bust onto the camera and bring something to us. But remember, these guys, this is their lives out here, depend on the decisions that Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson make, on the Confederate side and on the Union side. And then sometimes those decisions are going to be put upon the shoulders of junior officers who are sometimes very competent in the staff roles and other times not very.

Actually, that's a perfect segue, Chris. Thank you. Because we talked about Dan Butterfield in the back, he's now starting to shift federal troops into this sector of the battlefield from over in Fredericksburg. The decoy over there has done its job. Now, Hooker needs those men on this battlefield. They're going to play into our story here in just a little bit. And when he talks about how the fame of these men is tied to the fame of their commanders, that's the reason why this spot in particular has become so influential, because they're all looking back and thinking about how important this spot is and how important this moment is. I'm going to ask my friend Don Fonz to come back here in just a minute to talk a little bit about that, because as you walk on this landscape, not only do we have the Smith monument that Chris mentioned, but if we take a look over here, we have a pair of cedar trees, we have a plaque in the ground, and these are also part of the effort to memorialize this moment, this last meeting. There are some waysides that addressed the story as well. And to Don, as someone who worked for the park as a historian, tell us a little bit about how the park’s history ties into the memorialization of the spot.

Well, this again is a key spot. It was recognized as such from its earliest days and eventually, it took several years after the park was created, but eventually the park acquired this corner and this piece of land, and Douglas Southall Freeman was even brought out here to give a great speech which hundreds of people attended. And so, at that time, one of the park historians, a very talented man named Ralph Happel, he decided that the park staff should commemorate this spot and also the event that just taking place here. So he conferred with some of his fellow employees, and they decided they would buy a small plaque to put here at the last meeting site, again to commemorate the importance of the site, and also the fact that they had planted 2 cedar trees here again to kind of recreate the Grove of trees that would have been here when Lee and Jackson were here. So, with that in mind, he got his coworkers to agree to chip in on this project. Happel went out and bought this nice little plaque here, which they have fixed to a stone, and at that point he went back to his colleagues and asked them for their share of the contribution, only to find out that several of them had excuses for why they suddenly could not contribute to the cause. Happel, with understandable disgust, would later write in his history of the park about this incident and concluded they serve as well who cannot collect.

Yeah, Don, I think it's important too that we talk about, you know, this is almost 20% of all the markers and monuments on the battlefield at Chancellorsville right here. There are only about 9 real monuments on the battlefield out here. Salem Church, if you put that off to the side and 2nd Fredericksburg, they have 5 monuments, so that that battle over there, you know, has almost as many as the larger battle here. And it's important to remember it, this park is not founded until 1927 as a national military park. And whenever they were leading up to creating Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Congress did a study and they sent an officer down here who said “We only need to say 1500 acres of these four battlefields, Fredericksburg Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville. And by the way, we shouldn't save anything at Chancellorsville.” And then they went back and re-kind of looked at this and said “No we can do 2500 acres and we can save a little bit at Chancellorsville.” So, since the 1920s we've been working forward, and Douglas Southall Freeman is important because he was a preservationist too. He helped buy what part of the field for us. And if you go through the park files you could see the Superintendent at the time, like, hey, man, can you send us the check? Hey, can you send us that check? Hey, remember that money we're going to give us? Yeah, we need that to buy the land. So, it's interesting to see what we have out here and, you know, one of the early places they want to memorialize and interpret is here. But you know, most likely, as we've talked to some of us in the past and I don't know what your thought is, but most likely the last meeting didn't take place where we're standing, the cracker box meeting probably took place over there where everyone's trying to shuffle through my camera shot. So, it's right across over there because we're on the business side of McGee Hill rather than the safe side of it. So, we've had conversations. What are your thoughts Don? You think it took place over there or here? Does it really matter? It's the intersection.

Again, it's one of those things that I don't know if anybody will ever really know. Again, is it one of the corners of the intersection, and how they chose this one specifically at this point I can no longer remember. But again, it doesn't really make a difference. To purists, perhaps it does, but again to history in general, as long as we know that this general vicinity was where it happened. That's probably enough.

Yeah, to quote Tim Smith of the east, “It was over there.” That's how he will put things whenever he generalizes, so I always love that one. So, with that, we want to actually pick up the next part of the story in our next video, and that is going to be the famed flank attack of Stonewall Jackson. We're gonna follow the route from start to finish. So, we're going to jump out at a few spots. We're going to be in the car going along, and along the way, you can follow us on Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter as well as YouTube, but check out our Battle of Chancellorsville app. You can go over to the Google Play Store, or over to iTunes, was trying to think about where we have it, and you can download that for free. We have Bob Crick, who's the former chief historian here at the park, who is featured on that battle app. And he'll take you around the park virtually and help to support what we're doing out here right now. So, I really want to thank you for watching. For supporting battlefield preservation, check out and for everybody out here in our gaggle, we got Chris Mackowski back there lighting a candle. We got Dan Davis trying to figure out he's gonna work Custer into the next stop. He will, believe me, I don’t know how he does it. We've got Don Fonz. Sarah Byerly behind the camera. Tim Talbot, Central Virginia Battlefield trust. I'm Chris White. Thank you for watching and thank you for supporting Battlefield preservation and education.

The American Battlefield Trust and our members have saved more than 1365 acres at Chancellorsville. If you'd like to help with ongoing preservation efforts there, you can find out more at our website, You can see a video version of this podcast episode on the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page. Search for Chancellorsville 160th anniversary. The Trust YouTube page has thousands of hours of great content covering not only the Civil War, but the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. And you can go beyond the military story to the political and social sides of American history and go from the big personalities down to the common soldier, the civilian and the enslaved stories. All, at the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page. If you enjoyed today's podcast, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. We'll have more episodes coming up and of course, don't forget to subscribe to the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page as well. Thanks again to our historians Daniel T. Davis, Sarah Kay Byerly, Don Fons, and Chris White. Thanks to our producer Larry Swiader. And our audio engineer, Jackson Makowski. I'm Chris Makowski for the American Battlefield Trust. Thanks for all you do to support Battlefield preservation and education.
As April 1863 turned to May, the Federal Army of the Potomac occupied a small crossroads in the Virginia Wilderness known as Chancellorsville. On May 1st, that army turned eastward, intent on springing a surprise on the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. I'm Chris Mackowski for the American Battlefield trust. We're in the early stages of a 16-episode podcast series that takes you to that crossroads to explore one of the most consequential battles of the Civil War. Federal commander “Fighting Joe Hooker” expected Confederates to ingloriously fly or turn and give battle on round of the federal zone choosing, where certain destruction awaited. Confederate commander, Robert E Lee, had other plans.

For the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville, the American Battlefield Trust headed into the field with a team of historians to trace the action of the first week of May 1863. In this episode, you'll hear from the Trust education manager Daniel T. Davis, Trust education specialist Sarah Kay Barley, and Tim Talbot, historian with the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, one of American Battlefield Trust's key partners in the effort to save the very land we visit in this episode. They'll join me as we walk the ground at the first day of Chancellorsville Battlefield.

Chris Mackowski of Emerging Civil War for the American Battlefield Trust and I am here on the first day at Chancellorsville Battlefield, as we affectionately call it, F-DAC you can see behind me the plaza that folks are familiar with to talk about some of the actions here that lists all the many donors who contributed to make this such a successful project. If you're among them, thank you so much for everything you did to help us achieve this. We're going to talk a little bit about that preservation story coming up in just a few moments. I've got Sarah Kay barley behind the camera. Coming on in just a few minutes is my good friend Dan Davis, and Tim Talbot from the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is going to be joining us as well. This is a great place for us to start our story of Chancellorsville today on that first day of the battlefield because we've got this orientation that folks can take advantage of. The Spotsylvania County Museum is behind us there, so it's a great place if you want to come and explore this underexplored part of the battlefield. And if we take a look, you can see what a beautiful piece of property this is. Behind me, there's gonna be a housing development that is gonna be hidden by a screen of trees. Those trees were planted as part of the purchase and preservation of this property back in 2004. And so, that's the historic tree line, it's going to help restore the integrity of this property so that we can tell the story. Now, of course, the roads that brought the armies here in the first place are still here today. They're busy, they're bustling. Off to my left is modern day Route 3, you'll hear plenty of it here as we talk here today. But that's why this becomes the battlefield on that first day, because as the Federals are marching from my right to the left, trying to pin Robert E Lee against the Rappahannock River, Lee's gonna come and advance and meet them here on this ground, we'll talk about that story in just a second. But it's that road that moves things, and that's why the axis of advance and fighting is along that road- control of that road through the wilderness is going to be key as a part of this story. To put things into context, let me bring in my great friend Dan Davis. Dan, you've been involved with this battlefield for a long time, as someone who lives in the area, who loves this story, who used to work at the Park Service to tell this story, what is it about the first day at Chancellorsville you love so much?

I think the first day of Chancellorsville, Chris, and thank you for- thank you and hello to everybody, and echoing Chris real quick, thank you all who are watching this for your support and preserving not only the ground that we're standing on, but also for your support of sharing and supporting our shared American story. Now what is interesting to me about the first day of Chancellorsville is that we look back in time 160 years ago and the first day at Chancellorsville, once you analyze it, once you put it together, for the week or so of the Chancellorsville campaign, you could probably make a good argument that it is the most pivotal of all the days of the Chancellorsville campaign. Joseph Hooker has stolen a march on Robert E Lee, he has flanked Lee out of Fredericksburg, which is just off my left shoulder off to the east. And he's in a prime position to give battle to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and he's beginning to move out of the wilderness. The wilderness is 75 square miles that stretches roughly from Fredericksburg off to the West, into Orange County. He's clearing the wilderness, and he's going to engage Lee here along these rolling fields initially, roughly late in the morning, early in the afternoon of May the 1st and it's the decisions that Hooker makes on May the 1st that will influence the rest of the battle and how the rest of the campaign is going to go. To talk a little bit more about the first day's action, I'm gonna bring on my good friend Tim Talbot from the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust.

Good morning. Thanks to the ABT for having me out to help talk a little bit about the first day at Chancellorsville and we're of course really happy to have been part of this effort in raising funds to help save this land and workout this deal with the developers on this particular project, it's one of the things that Central Virginia Battlefield Trust really believes in. Our philosophy is working with people to try to accomplish battlefield preservation, that's really what this was. So here at the first day of Chancellorsville, as Dan said, this battlefield really encompasses a huge area we sometimes don't think about how large the Chancellorsville battlefield actually stretches here, and what's really important, of course, is our position here. Over to my right is the Rappahannock River, with several different points of crossing for the Federal Army to use. General Lee and his army coming from the Fredericksburg area once they receive word that the Federals were behind them, they're going to start dispatching troops toward this direction, largely under Mclaws division under General Mclaws. Of course, James Longstreet is not going to be here at Chancellorsville. He is down in southeastern Virginia trying to supply his troops and feed his animals, being part away from the army. So, there's just two divisions, Anderson and Mclaws here from long streets core. So, this is going to be a little bit more of a challenge for Lee and he's going to have to improvise and come up with some different ideas on how to best handle Hooker and his first effort at General Hooker.

So we're going to do the famous historian walk and talk and really put Sarah’s skills to the test here, as we follow Joe Hooker’s Army out of the Chancellorsville area toward Fredericksburg. Now remember, he's going to start this March in the morning of May 1st and he thinks he's got the drop on Robert E. Lee. He's been told to put in all of his men, and so he spent some time consolidating his army, which is so big, as we talked about in the first video, it's going to take a couple river crossings and days to get into position, but he steals that March on Robert E Lee. He thinks he still has the drop on the Confederate army. So as he sets out in the morning of May first, he's entirely confident that he's got the Confederates in the bag. Of course, it's taken Robert E Lee some time to read the tea leaves and understand what's been going on here. But once he realizes that Hooker is in his rear, that's where the real threat is. The distraction that's in front of him, that is John Sedgwick and other portions of the Union army, are really a decoy. So he's going to leave a decoy of his own under Jubal early, about 11,000 guys and he's going to turn the rest of his army in this direction to meet the true threat in his rear. Hooker doesn't know Lee's coming toward him, Lee doesn't really know how big the Federal Army is, except that it's a lot bigger, and so they're going to head here for a clash. As the army is moving, Lee's going to send his top Lieutenant, Stonewall Jackson, to be in charge of this end of the field until Lee himself can arrive. So, when Jackson first gets here, he's marching out, and the Confederates actually have a position beyond me. I'll stop here just for a second. We can see your Ridge here when we get up there, we'll be able to see past that and there's going to be a Ridge right along an area where a modern-day Home Depot is. And the Confederates have been dug in there all winter long. This is sort of protecting their rear area. They've even had scouts out kind of near some of the forts. So that's a well fortified position and when Jackson gets there, he says, “great earthworks, fellas. Get up. Let's go. We're leaving him behind.” and he's gonna advance off in this direction to meet the foe. So, as we keep following Hooker’s line, we know that the Confederates are heading in this direction. Jackson wants to be on offense rather than on defense. He wants to have the initiative. That's going to be a key component of anything that Robert E Lee does. He's going to look for ways to have the initiative. So far, it's been all Joe Hooker. Joe Hooker has been calling the shots. So, Lee is going to look for the way to try to get that initiative for himself. So that's why Jackson really wants to come out here and hit Hooker on the nose before Hooker understands what's going on. Let me bring my pal Dan Davis back in here for just a second. And Dan, is this a risky move on Jackson's part or is this shrewd?

I think you could argue it either way, Chris, and thank you again. Jackson is coming out in the morning of May the 1st from, again, the position at Fredericksburg off to our East to engage Joseph Hooker. Now up until this point in time as Chris mentioned, Hooker has held the initiative, it's very important to remember that, but Jackson, again, and Lee are going to wrench that initiative away rather than fighting a defensive battle. Jackson, who's known for the offensive, and we can keep walking out here toward this ridge. Jackson, who is known for his offensive mind, is going to stick with that mindset on the morning of May the 1st, he's going to try to get that initiative back from the Federals. And so, when he reaches Zoan Church Ridge, which is a very critical position. And I say it's critical because not only is it part of the rear defenses of the Confederate Army, but if Hooker can take that Ridge, he's effectively cleared the wilderness, he's gotten himself out of that secondary undergrowth force, he can bring to bear the numerical superiority he has if he takes that Ridge, there is no other Ridge, no other ground from which Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia can repel Hooker, and Lee will be forced to retreat. We can just continue walking out to this Ridge and I'll speak a little bit too to the terrain out here on the first day of Chancellorsville Battlefield. You'll notice as we're walking along that this ground is very rolling and the Federals, and we'll talk about this in just a little bit, are going to use that to their advantage. But to truly understand the battlefield, you have to come out and you have to walk it because this ground is very- it's undulating. There's knolls, there's ridges, there's low rises. It's a very- it's just an incredible place to come and visit and to get a full sense of what the Union and Confederate soldiers are dealing with out here on May the 1st.

Let me jump in real quick Dan, because if we look behind me here as this hill go- as this path goes up this hill, we can see those undulations really well, that Dan was just talking about, and so you can't see what's in front of you. The Federals, as they're marching in this direction, from behind the camera toward me, can't see that the Confederates have defenses or that the Confederates are coming out to March them. So, these undulations prove, really important and because the Union army is essentially confined to the road and its column of March, you know it's not spread out. They've got skirmishers, of course, protecting their flanks in the front, but they don't really have a lot of visibility because they're confined to that road that we've talked about. Dan mentioned Zoan Church a ridge that's beyond this one. Our friend Frank O'Reilly likes to tell people, it is the highest elevation between here and Europe. Which of course is like, ooh, but don't forget the oceans in the way and nothing sticking up there. But that does really provide a good dramatic representation of just how important that Ridge is going to be. And that's why the Confederates had staked their position there over the winter as their defensive position. But as I said, Jackson says, “alright, come on, let's go.” He's going to send Billy Mahone out in this direction. We're going to have two divisions, Anderson and Mclaws. As Tim mentioned earlier, they're going to then try to come out here and meet Hooker’s spear. Hooker is advancing along 3 lines, the road that's right behind you, modern day Route 3 is the straight line into Fredericksburg. Just to the South, a little under a mile behind the camera is the old Plank Rd, he's got the 12-core advancing along that route. This is the 5th core is leading the advance here, led by the regulars that Dan's going to talk about in just a few minutes, and then to the north, we got the 5th core. Other elements of the 5th core that are also pushing forward. So, we've got these three Spears, George Gordon Meade up there, Henry Slocum down there, the regulars here under Tardy George, who's moving with great alacrity right here. And that's going to then lead to some problems just up over this hill as we hit the point of first contact.

I love that word alacrity, and let's get to the top of the Ridge. Let's get back into the shade again. For those of you who do not know this, history happens in the shade. Now, again, as Chris mentioned, Sykes's division of US regulars is advancing along the Orange Turnpike Modern Route 3, the westbound lanes of Route 3, but out in front of the regulars is the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, one of the few regiments that Hooker has left- cavalry regiments that he has with the army here at Chancellorsville, and we'll talk a little bit more about that as we go along in our videos. Now the 8th Pennsylvania's commanded by a fellow named, or at least this contingent, is commanded by a fellow named Charles Wickersham. And now, if we get up here, I'm gonna ask Sarah to pan out to the distance to see the barn. Not only are we standing on a Ridge, but we are also looking out at another Ridge and then beyond thatyet another Ridge, and then Zoan church or Zoan church Ridge. Wickersham as he engages Mahone's Virginians. What is he going to do? He's going to do some Ridge hopping. He's going to fight a delaying action. The fighting is actually going to start near a modern elementary school, which is just maybe a quarter mile, half mile behind me and Wickersham is going to delay Mahone's Virginians, it is the 12th Virginia Infantry, and he's going to hop from one Ridge to the next. Slowly delaying the Virginians as Sykes and the US regulars are coming onto the field, back behind the camera where Sarah is standing, and I'm actually going to ask Sarah to come on in just a moment. But, what I think is interesting about this action is if you look forward a month or two down the road, as Wickersham is practicing these tactics of slowly delaying using the ridges to his advantage, utilizing the terrain to delay the Confederates- for those students of the Gettysburg Campaign, it may sound familiar- it's exactly what John Beauford does on the first day at Gettysburg, as the John Reynold's wing is coming up and onto the field. The exact same tactics and to talk a little bit more about the fighting out here, I'm gonna take the camera and turn it over to Sarah Barley.

Thanks, Dan. It's good to be here with you. Thanks for joining us for our video series for the 160th anniversary here of the Battle of Chancellorsville. And what I'd like to talk about for just a brief moment is the civilian land that's here. And then we'll turn it back to the guys for the fighting. So some of the families that live in this area, their last names are the McGees and the McGees have a couple different farms in this area, including some of the land that's been preserved here. But one particular family that Absalom McGee family, they're particularly interesting. So we're here in Virginia. Virginia is, of course, in the Confederacy at the time of the Civil war. But not everyone in Virginia supported the Confederacy. In fact, the Absalom McGee family are Unionists, but that does not make their life easy here in the Chancellorsville area. So Absalom McGee seems to have been doing some scouting, possibly some spying for the Union armies, Union forces out in this area. We know that two of his brothers were forced into Confederate service, they ended up finding a way to desert, leave the Confederate army and they are also involved in some Union spying. Absalom may have had one other brother who stayed in the Confederate Army, but he doesn't want to talk about him much in the years after the war when he's filing his claims to be reimbursed for the damages and the things that Union armies have taken so we know quite a bit about the Absalon McGee situation and their family, their interactions with United States volunteer troops, Federals, and this is through the Southern Claims Commission, some research that we've done there. But here at Chancellorsville, first day of the battle, Absalom McGee is not at home, he's probably hiding in the woods, his neighbors have threatened to hang him before, so he tends to not spend a lot of time at home. But his wife, Frances McGee, their children, are at the house, and Union troops come into the area around them, start setting up a defensive line and the McGee House is going to be taken over as a field hospital. Their bedding is going to be used, the civilian clothing will be used for bandages. They're also going to take a lot of the food and supplies, and then as the Union army falls back toward the end of the first day of fighting here at Chancellorsville, then Confederate troops are going to come into that same position, they'll be some at a Confederate artillery battery that sets up near their house. So just as we're talking about the military story here, think about the farms that are in the area and we'll talk about more civilians and their influence on the Battle of Chancellorsville, but here we have a family that isn't necessarily influencing the battle, but their home is a scene of war as the fighting begins to unfold here on May 1st, 1863.

Thank you, Sarah. Now, as the fighting is unfolding, the 12th Virginia is going to press the 8th Pennsylvania cavalry back across the fields that we are standing on the two have helped to preserve. Now, as the Pennsylvanians are withdrawing back behind the camera, Sykes's US regulars are going to start coming onto the field. The US regulars these are the, as Sarah mentioned, just a few moments ago, these are the professional soldiers in the army of the Potomac. They're not the volunteer soldiers. They're not raised from or by and equipped by the individual states. They're raised and equipped by the federal government. Now, as the regulars start coming on to the field, Sykes is going to throw out a line of skirmishers, the 17th US, and the 17th of the US is going to essentially take the place in the skirmish line that the Pennsylvanians do, and they're going to begin engaging Mahone's Virginians. Behind them, Sydney Burbank is going to deploy his brigade. He's gonna put the 2nd and 6th on the opposite side of the road to the South of the Orange Turnpike. And up here, we're gonna have the 7th and 10th, the 11th US Infantry, and those regiments are going to begin sweeping floor from the Ridge back behind us, and they're going to slam into Mahone's Virginians, and they're gonna quickly get the upper hand. Now somewhere during this advance, back behind the camera, the color bear, the 7th US Infantry, is going to fall, and that and the United States flag is going to be picked up by a fellow named Stephen O'Neill and O'Neill is not only gonna pick it up and carry it through the rest of the fighting on May 1st, but for the rest of the campaign. And for his actions out here, Stephen O'Neill, and we have a fairly good idea where this took place, is going to receive the Medal of Honor after the war. The US regulars are going to sweep forward, they're going to engage Mahone's Virginias, and they're going to start pushing the Virginians back across this ground that we're standing on, back toward the null where the barn is located behind me, and the fighting is quickly going to escalate and to talk a little bit more about the engagement, I'm gonna bring back Chris McAlister.

Fighting is going to be back and forth across this field, and that's what makes this field so important as part of the action here, because it's one of the few open spaces that exists on this end of the wilderness, and so that's why this clear space then becomes the area where the fighting happens. As the Federals try to deploy and get their greater numbers into the fight, they're able to use this open space to get more muscle in, and that's going to cause that problems for Mahone as he was trying to advance and then gets pushed back. That also is why the Confederates realize that they really have got to be aggressive here, because if they can prevent deployment of more federals, they can bottleneck Hooker’s Army on those roads, because they won't be able to deploy in the forest behind. If we take a look behind me, I'll ask Sarah to swing around here and Sarah you’re doing a fantastic job behind that camera trying to keep up with us. You can see this wide open expanse. Federals are eventually going to be able to take advantage of that high ground behind me on the far side of Lick Run. And when they do, it's going to be a really strong position where they can camp out all day if they want, they're going to call for reinforcements. Hancock's men from the second corps are going to try to come up and support them there. That's why this wide open space is so important for the Federals and why it's so dangerous for the Confederates. So, creating that bottleneck is going to prevent those federal forces. Same thing happens off to my right along the Orange Plank Rd. Today we call it Old Plank Rd to differentiate it from Plank Rd. And the 12 corps pushing out, they're getting into some open area the Confederates try to bottleneck them there. Henry Slocum's got a lot of men, and he's going to push those guys out and try to take over that open space and he can get more of his men out. And that's when what I would say, calamity strikes the Confederate army. And Dan mentioned earlier that this is the pivotal day of the Battle of Chancellorsville, because here we have the Federals on both routes of advance, slowly pushing forward. And Joe Hooker says “Wait” and he loses his nerve, apocryphally later on it's said that Joe Hooker loses confidence in Joe Hooker. Whatever the case might be, he sends word to his commanders to pull back. He wants to create a tighter defensive position around the Chancellorsville intersection. Well, Slocum down on the Plank Rd, he's like “What do you mean? I've got the momentum. I've got the advance. I'm having the opportunity to push forward.” And he tells the Courier, a guy named Washington Roebling, who will later try to sell everybody a big bridge in Brooklyn successfully, marvelous piece of engineering. Slocum tells Robin you're a damn liar, and I'm going to have you shot if I find out that you're lying to me and Slocum gets on his horse, rides back to the Chancellorsville intersection, and Hooker is like, “No, no, she's right. No, I want you to pull back.” and Slocum is a gasp, almost to the point where he decides that- he almost decides, excuse me- to disobey orders. But instead, he will go back to the front, he will pull his men back, and we'll visit that area in just a few minutes, and he'll start to set up that defensive cordon around the Chancellorsville intersection. In doing so, by pulling back off to my right, he exposes the federal position here. And so the Confederates are able to swing around and then assault the right flank of the federal defense here. So as we look at that ground behind me, it's great position. Federals are perched there. They could hang out all day. When I stand up there, it reminds me of Malvern Hill, where they've got a nice high spot. Open plan of advance in front of them. There's actually a stream that would break up any Confederate cohesion, great spot. But if your right flanks not protected, you can't stay there. And that's what happened as Jackson's going to swing Confederates around in the right flank and then disengage these guys who are ordered to also give up their position, Sykes has got those reinforcements from Hancock coming, he wants to stay just the way Slocum did, but he's going to be forced to pull back as well. As a result, we're going to have both of these avenues of advance turn into avenues of contraction, and the Federals are going to start creating that defensive position around the Chancellorsville intersection. Meanwhile, off to my left, let me bring Dan back in or let me bring Tim back in- Tims got the microphone over here. Off to my left, we have George Gordon Meade, who's been advancing along the River Rd. Tim, what sort of time does Meade have up there? He's got no opposition; he's got a free avenue of advance. Let me get Dan to come in here just a second here. I think Tim is having some microphone problems. So, Dan, like George Gordon Meade is up there, no one's blocking his way, he must take this news with grace and smoothness.

We know Meade for his temper, more so than being the commander of the Army of the Potomac, the one man who beats Robert E Lee decisively at Gettysburg just a couple months after this battle. But Meade is absolutely flabbergasted. He is furious with Joseph Hooker. He is heard to say after he is withdrawn from the area along the River Rd off to the north, back to Chancellorsville, “How are we supposed to hold the top of the hill if we cannot hold the bottom of it?” Meades path toward Fredericksburg, toward the Confederate right flank was wide open. Again, the Confederates are opposing the Union Army on the Orange Turnpike on the Orange Plank Rd. Lee does not have enough men to put on the River Road to deal with George Meade’s column. Meade has an open road all the way to Fredericksburg. An open road well beyond the Confederate right flank to get in behind the Confederate army. But as Chris mentioned, Joseph Hooker is going to pull back, he's going to reconsolidate or consolidate his lines back at the Chancellorsville Crossroads. Now, not only is Meade- I'm going to rewind but also fast forward a little bit- Not only is Meade upset with Hooker, but Henry Slocum is absolutely furious to the point where later in the fall of 1863, when the 11th and 12th corps are consolidated and sent west to Chattanooga, Henry Slocum, still in command of the 12th corps, refuses to serve under Joseph Hooker. He will be assigned to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and he will sit in Vicksburg, sit in Mississippi for the for the better part of the next year. It's not until after the fall of Atlanta that Slocum is going to be recalled to join Sherman's army for the March of the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. But Henry Slocum, like me, is also furious with Joseph Hooker, Slocum will never forgive Hooker for what he does here at Chancellorsville on May 1st, 1863. Chris.

Yeah, Meade apoplectic, “If we can't hold the high ground, how do we expect to hold the low ground?” And he's going to have to. We're going to fall back with the Federals in just a second here, hop in the car and we'll see how that position contracts before we leave this section of the battlefield, though, I want to invite you to come out here and walk this ground yourself. That's why we have saved it for you! That's why you have saved it for each other! Wonderful walking path out here, a monument to the regulars that Dan has talked about so eloquently is out there. Go out there, take a look at it. Off to my right behind me here as well is a great section that best emulates what the wilderness looked like back in 1863 and 1864. It's worth walking out here just so you can see what the wilderness looks like, because a lot of people walk around the forest today and they are mature forests, you can see through the undergrowth. Walk the path through that section of woods, and then you'll suddenly understand why the wilderness was such a formidable topographical spot. In 1863 and 1864. With that, we're going to then take the road and have to just kind of get ourselves around that wilderness. Dan's going to hop back on here in a second, and then we're all going to go hop in our car and take a drive.

Yeah. And as we were walking back to our car and again, thank you all so much for joining us. Thank you for helping to preserve this land, helping to preserve our shared American story. And we could not, in fact preserve this particular piece of land without our critical partners, Spotsylvania County, Tricord homes, Toll Brothers homes. You may have heard of them. They have helped us preserve this land that we can all now come out and reflect on not only the civil war, but what it took to build our country. So, to them I say thank you. To you, I say thank you. And, we're gonna see you a little bit later.

The American Battlefield Trust and our members who saved more than 1,365 acres at Chancellorsville would like to give a special shout out in this episode to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust for their work in helping us save the first day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. If you'd like to help with ongoing preservation efforts at Chancellorsville, you can find out more at our website you can see a video version of this podcast episode and the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page. Search for Chancellorsville 160th anniversary. The Trust YouTube has thousands of hours of great content covering not only the Civil War, but the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. And you can go beyond the military story to the political and social sides of American history and go from the big personalities to the common soldier, the civilians and the enslaved. All at the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page.

And if you enjoyed today's podcast, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. We'll have more episodes coming up, and of course, don't forget to subscribe to the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page as well. Thanks again to our historians Daniel T Davis, Sarah Kay Bierle and Tim Talbot. And thanks to our producer Larry Swiader and our audio engineer, Jackson Mackowski. I'm Chris Mackowski for the American Battlefield Trust. Thanks for all you do to support Battlefield preservation and education.
As the 1863 spring campaign got underway in Virginia, federal forces under fighting Joe Hooker converged on a small crossroads in the middle of the Virginia Wilderness, Chancellorsville. I'm Chris Makowski for the American Battlefield trust. We're at the start of a 16-episode podcast series that takes you to that crossroads to explore one of the most consequential battles of the Civil War. We'll meet the high command of the Army of the Potomac as it converged on the stately home of the Chancellorsville family. We’ll also meet the family living there as war turns their lives upside down.

For the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville, the American Battlefield Trust headed off into the field with a team of historians to trace the action of the first week of May 1863. In this episode, you'll hear from former Park Service historians, Greg Mertz and Don Fons, the Trust’s education specialist, Sarah Kay Byerly, and Deputy education director, Chris White. They'll join me at the rulings of the Chancellorsville Mansion, located at what became, that May, the most important intersection in America, the Crossroads of Fire.

Chris Makowski of Emerging Civil War for the American Battlefield Trust and I am standing at the Chancellorsville intersection, the Crossroads of Fire as the American Battlefield Trust commemorates the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Thanks so much for being with us. We want you to share this. We want you to like this. We want you to subscribe. Spread the word so others can join in on these great stories that we're gonna have for you over the course of the next few days. In the beginning of May 1863, this becomes the most important crossroads in America, because we have Joe Hooker’s Army consolidating at this point in an attempt to slide in behind Robert E Lee, who is some 10 miles to the east of us in Fredericksburg. As we look here at the intersection, East is in that direction, West is in that direction, North, and of course South. Hooker’s army is so big he has to use three different river crossings at US fort, Ellis fort, and Germanna fort. He concentrates here and then he's going to pause as he gets his army together for that advance against Robert E Lee. In the midst of all of that hubbub, we have a intersection here that has an N next to it. This is about a day's walk out of Fredericksburg. So that's why this House is here in the midst of this 70 square miles of deciduous forest. I actually forgot to set a timer to see how long it is before someone honks at us while we're out here, because that's inevitably going to happen. But so, this becomes like a really important wayfaring stop for travelers through the wilderness and to talk about what life was like here, I want to bring in my colleague Sarah Kay Barley. Sarah, tell us a little bit about what life was like here for the family that lived at this crossroads of fire.

Thanks, Chris, and thanks to our viewers who are watching with us here today. As Chris has mentioned, we're here at the Chancellorsville Crossroads. Behind me, you can see the ruins of this large structure, known as Chancellorsville. It's a brick building and the first parts of it built around 1816 and then a few additions added as time goes on. But when we get to the civil war years, you know this building already has about 5 decades of history associated with it. It's been used as a Tavern, as an inn, as a post office, but when we get to the Civil War years, it's in its maybe quieter phase of its history. That is, until the army shows up of course, but we have a widow here, Francis Chancellor and her six daughters are living here at Chancellorsville or the Chancellor House during the Civil War period. They did have enslaved persons living with them, though, by the spring of 1863, most of those individuals have sought freedom with the Union armies that have come through the area before. And the Chancellor women - the Chancellor girls are pro Confederate, so they really prefer it when Confederates and Southerners control the area. They are known to have the officers over for dinners, social scene happening here. Sue Chancellor, who's one of the young daughters, she's about 14 in the spring of 1863, and she remembers these interactions with the officers. One general gave her a gold coin, which I think is still on display at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center Museum. So, you can check that out if you're in the area. But Sue remembers these officers coming. They, you know, they're scouting, they're moving through the area, they stopped for a meal, they interact socially with the family. They were teaching some of the older daughters how to play cards, apparently to Francis Chancellor’s great dismay. So, this is kind of the scene, it's on the quieter side, but you have these interactions with the troops that have come through the area before. And when we get to April 30th, 1863, and these large Union Army Corps are coming into the area, the Chancellor women and girls are going to have a response to that. And one Union soldier would later recall that they were sitting on the porch of this brick home in pretty spring dresses, calls them light dresses, their manners were not so pretty though. They start scolding and hurling some insults at these Union soldiers and officers coming into the area, so there's a little bit of that military civilian tension going on here. Well, that's not going to prevent their home from being taken over as a headquarters. And I think some of our other guests are going to talk about that a little more. But as fighting begins to unfold around the Chancellorsville area, the women are going to take refuge in the basement and a lot more is going to happen and they're going to find themselves in the midst of a fiery ordeal. But we're going to save that for a later video because it doesn't happen until May 3rd. Chris.

So as the Union army begins to concentrate on this area, this certainly changes life for the Chancellors. They're gonna hide their food. They're gonna try to hide their valuables. The family themselves, though, won't give up their house. They're gonna hide in the basement as battle erupts. As we walk across the property, we can see off in the distance way off in that area, an area called Fairview and beyond it, an area called Hazel Grove. We're going to visit those as part of this tour. You can see some artillery pieces that are here, we'll talk about those in just a minute. But this is going to become kind of an important artillery platform, particularly on May 3rd. So as Joe Hooker gets to this area himself, he's going to use this as a headquarters because it's going to serve as a good central meeting point for his army, where he's going to be able to communicate with the different branches. When it's time for him to eventually send them out, there are three roads that are going to head eastward toward Fredericksburg, and he'll have a good central location to communicate with all three veins, but as his officers begin to collect here as they begin to chat, and they begin to plan, they're not entirely clear about what Hooker has in store. He's been very secretive. Even his second in command, Darius Couch, doesn't really know what's going on. His pushing of his armies back in Fredericksburg and or John Sedgwick. Sedgwick doesn't really have a full idea of what the scope of the plan is going to be, and so there's a lot of puzzlement among the Corps commanders about what's going to happen. I'm going to bring on my friend Greg Mertz, who's going to talk a little bit about some of that puzzlement that some of those Corps commanders are experiencing.

One of those Corps commanders that clearly has a different idea of what he thinks the Federal Army should be doing, is George Gordon Meade, the commander of the 5th Corps and the man that would eventually take command of this army just three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, right after the Battle of Chancellorsville. But he is leading troops that have crossed the Rapidan River at Ellis Fort, marching down the Elys Fort Rd that is just in front of me, and reach this intersection, realizes that he has accomplished quite a bit that the Union army has successfully crossed both of the rivers. On route here, he also cut in behind the Fort that was most furthest West of Fredericksburg along that one single stretch of the Rappahannock River. So, the first Fort passed the confluence, United States Fort, has cleared that and now some Union troops in the second Corps could move across and join in with them, and once he reached this intersection here at Chancellorsville, realizes that these roads will lead outside of the wilderness. So Meade, who is somebody that has quite a temper and so forth, is actually in a good mood when he arrives here. He is waiting for the troops that crossed over at Germanna fort to arrive, and they would be coming down the Orange Turnpike from my right to the left. Henry Slocum is the corps commander that is in the lead, and we have a cheering of Joseph Hooker that will occur here as Meade goes up the Slocum, slaps him on the back, and he says hurrah for Joe Hooker. We are on Robert E Lee's flank and rear and he doesn't even know it, and referring to some of the roads here, he said you take the Orange Turnpike and I'll take the plank road or vice versa, and we'll get out of this wilderness, get into some of the open ground. And Slocum had to explain to Meade that he had orders from Hooker to hold up here, to wait for additional troops to gather before they would move out. This occurred on the last day of April and the men would wait here for the rest of the day and not move out until May 1st. Even then, they would wait several hours into the morning before moving out. But just as and as an example of what Chris was talking about, Hooker subordinates do not have a good idea of exactly what Joseph Hooker wants to do. Meade clearly has in mind one thing that he believes the army should do once they reached here, but is going to be sadly disappointed once he has his conversation with General Slocum.

And there you start to see some of the aggressive attitudes that some of these commanders have. And, you know, the army of the Potomac has this reputation for having a bad bout of McClellanism. I'm gonna bring Chris Wade on here in just a second because Joe Hooker is gonna arrive at this intersection, and he's gonna try to straighten things out. But because he hasn't communicated clearly up to this point, these guys aren't quite sure, so that aggressiveness that they're feeling, they're not able to put into practice. Now a lot of this dates back to direct orders that Hooker got himself when President Lincoln visited this army back in the spring and he pulls Hooker aside and he says the next time you give battle, put in all of your men. He says it to Hooker on two different occasions and then there's an occasion where he pulls aside 2nd Corps commander Darius Coach, second in command to this army, he says next time you get battle put in allyour men. If you look at the way the army of the Potomac has used its superior numbers in previous battles, they've been piece meal attacks, so they've not been able to use those superior numbers. So Lincoln really urges Hooker to get your men consolidated, get them concentrated, and then use all of that might all at once. Hooker has not communicated this to his subordinates, as a result, they're ready to go, and he's not letting them. Hooker himself will eventually get here and to talk a little bit about that, I'm going to bring on my good friend, Chris White.

Notice on all of our videos, Chris Bukowski's good friends with a lot of people.

But you're still the best.

Yeah. It's what I like to hear. So Joe Hooker, you know, it's interesting to see how people interpret him over time. You know, Joe, is a fascinating character to me. I would love to have dinner with him, but I wouldn't believe a word that comes out of his mouth. And that's kind of what we see in the wake of the Chancellorsville Campaign. In the lead up, he doesn't talk really to his subordinates enough. He has some trust issues and a lot of that has to do with his own problems because he kind of backstabbed his way into command at times. But he was also a very good commander, a competent battlefield commander, one of the best combat leaders in the army of the Potomac prior to Chancellorsville. He's a 48-year-old Hadley, MA native who went to the West Point class of 1837. In fact, I always say that you could have a West Point class of ‘37 reunion here at Chancellorsville. We had Jubal Early, Robert Chiltoner, Henry Benham, Joe Hooker, and others who are out here fighting at Chancellorsville, but Joe Hooker after the battle, never writes a report that we know of or an official report that shows up and when he does talk about this battle, he changes his story depending on who he talks to and at one point he had asked if, you know, he's asked, you know, what was your plan at Chancellorsville? And one person said he tapped his head and said it was all up here. You know, so that doesn't do anyone any good, whenever you arrive here at this crossroads and you have Henry Slocum, and you have George Gordon Meade, and you have Oliver Otis Howard, who have to have orders of where to go. And then you have more showing up in this area like Couch and then eventually Devil Dan Sickles and others. But one of my favorite descriptions of Joe Hooker comes from Charles Francis Adams. He's from the Adams family up in Massachusetts, not the spooky ones, but the ones who go to the presidency. He says Hooker in no way and in no degree represents the typical soldiership of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Chancing to be born in Massachusetts, he was in 1861 and from that time forward, little better than a drunken West Point military adventurer. He was altogether devoid of character, insubordinate and entry. It is true that after superseding Burnside he did some effective work towards organizing the Army of the Potomac. Nevertheless, that was a period in its history when, so far, his character was concerned. The Army of the Potomac sank to its lowest point. It was commanded by a trio of each of whom the least said the better. It consisted of Joe Hooker, Dan Sickles, and Dan Butterfield. All of these men were a blemished character. During the winter of 1862-63. When Hooker was in command, headquarters of the Army of the Potomac was a place to which no self-respecting man liked to go and no decent woman could go. It was a combination of a ballroom and a brothel. He went on to state that Sickles, Butterfield, and Hooker are the disgrace and bane of this army. They’re three humbugs and triggers and demagogues, so he doesn't like them very much if you get the get the hint. And Sickles, who is in charge of the third Corps, who really shouldn't be in charge of the third Corps, is a political general. He is an intriguer. Dan Butterfield, who his father is the one of the founders of the American Express Company, is a guy who a lot of people don't like to get to know because prior to the war up in Utica, NY. Butterfield decided he wanted to start his own fire company because he's bored, and so he creates this fire company and then there's no fires in Utica. So, what does he do? He goes out and catches a church on fire and before his company can get there and put it out, it burned to the ground. Luckily, he had dad with him and his American Express card and dad repaid to build the church, but these are kind of the guys that we're starting to look at. A man who had to claim temporary insanity for murder in Washington. A guy who burned down a church, and then Joe Hooker, who couldn't tell the truth to get out of a paper bag. So, this is what some people are starting to look at whenever they look at the high command of the Army of the Potomac, they're looking at Hooker, side eyed. This guy's done some good things so far, but he's got to prove himself in front of Lee who right now is 3-1-1 in all of his campaigns. So how do we see the Joe Hooker come out as an actual army commander? That's still to be seen. But Joe Hooker is starting to see the wheels come off here at the Chancellorsville Crossroads, right as he's making contact with the enemy.

So of course, if I'm one of the ladies of the Chancellor's family and I've got this rogues collection converging on my house, I've got to imagine that's a pretty tense afternoon. I'm going to bring on another of my good friends, Don Fons. He's a former historian here at Fredericksburg, National Military Park, Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania National Military Park, and Don, we've got this moment just pregnant with possibilities. We've got the Union army converging. We've got Robert E Lee still trying to figure things out. We've got civilians that are caught in the middle. Tell me about this moment from your perspective.

Well, as you say this, I think in some ways this is maybe the turning point, certainly the beginning of the turning point for the battle. Joe Hooker, as you say, has now arrived here. He's got his army exactly where he wanted it with the exception of Stoneman's cavalry. He's got his army on either side of Lee. All he now has to do is follow through with his plan. And he'll crush Lee between the two pincers of his army. But at this point, Joe Hooker, who's been very aggressive up to this point in action, but also in talk, Hooker prior to the campaign, boasted to everybody he could hear what he was going to do to Robert E Lee and the Confederacy once he got started, he said I once I get started I’ll march all the way to New Orleans and no one will be able to stop me. Once he got here to Chancellorsville he said, you know that due to the great marches we've just done, the meeting must now come out from behind his defenses or flee. So he's saying all these things that you know that are very aggressive and positive and it plays well with the troops. The generals that know Hooker, not so much. But anyhow hookers been very aggressive up to this point but that suddenly changes once he arrives here at Chancellorsville. Suddenly he puts the brakes on this movement. He orders Slocum and Meade to halt here so they can bring up other troops. He now calls on the 3rd Corps which he left back at the Falmouth and has them come up and now he's going to wait for them to arrive the next day. Meanwhile he's going to begin building earthworks around this intersection to protect it. and as it's pointed out, he doesn't really get started because of the the rival of Slocum, doesn't really get started until mid-morning of of May the 1st. So you suddenly start seeing caution and hesitation creeping into this audacious plan and we're going to see as each day passes a lot more of that creeping as Joe goes from being, you know, the bold, audacious, brash commander to suddenly being timid Joe Hooker.

So and of course, as all this is going on, Robert E Lee is trying to read the tea leaves, trying to see what's going on and make some sense of this. Where's Lee's head at this point?

Well, at this point, Lee is starting to figure out what's going on. He knew a day or two early that troops were crossing the river behind him. Of course, Cedric at the same time is crossing the river in front of him. The question is how many troops are on either side? Is one of these a diversion? If so, which one? And, by the time Hooker gets here, Jeb Stuart is now cutting into the Union lines, taking some prisoners. The Corps patches that the Hooker has instituted not only help his army, but now is helping Lee because now Lee can identify which Corps are with him. So now Lee knows that there's a big force behind him. This is not just a diversion in favor of Cedric. Now this is possibly the main effort is here. So now Lee has got to figure out what he's going to do about this. He's basically surrounded. If you want to look at it that way, but he didn't want to look at it that way. Lee, instead of seeing himself as surrounded, sees himself as having the enemy divided. He was outnumbered more than two to one, and if there's any chance he's going to have a victory, he's got to do it by attacking the enemy while they're divided. Attacking them one piece at a time and Hooker is now giving them the chance to do this. So, at this point, he's going to confer with Stonewall Jackson and they're going to determine to leave a holding force at Fredericksburg and then march out here with the main force, and give battle to Joe Hooker.

So it's the evening of April 30th. Tense moments, lots of moving parts. Commanders are both finally getting their head around things. We're going to take a trip out to the day one battlefield to start the action of this campaign on May 1st, 1863.

The American Battlefield Trust and our members have saved more than 1365 acres of Chancellorsville. If you'd like to help out more with ongoing preservation efforts there, you can find out more at our website, You can see a video version of this podcast episode on the American Battlefield Trust YouTube page. Search for Chancellorsville, 160th Anniversary. The Trust YouTube page has thousands of hours of great content covering not only the Civil war, but the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812, and you can go beyond the military story to the political and social science of American history and go from the big personalities to the common soldier, the civilian and the enslaved. All at the American Battlefield Trust YouTube page. If you enjoyed today's podcast, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. We'll have more episodes coming up, and of course, don't forget to subscribe to the American Battlefield Trust’s YouTube page as well. Well, thanks again to our historians Chris White, Sarah Kay Byerley, Don Fons and Greg Mertz. Thanks to our producer Larry Swiader and our audio engineer, Jackson Mackowski. I'm Chris Makowski for the American Battlefield Trust. Thanks for all you do to support Battlefield preservation and education.
In the early days of May 1863, the Chancellorsville intersection just West of Fredericksburg, VA, was the most important crossroads in America. I'm Chris Mackowski for the American Battlefield trust.

We're kicking off a 16-part podcast series that will take you to that crossroads to explore one of the most consequential battles of the Civil War on the union side, fighting Joe Hooker, commanding the Army of the Potomac. On the Confederate side, Robert E Lee, commanding the Army of Northern. Virginia. For the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville, the American Battlefield Trust headed into the field with a team of historians to trace the action of the first week of May 1863. In our first episode, you'll hear from former Park Service historian Greg Mertz, the Trust senior education manager Dan Davis, and deputy education. Director Chris White. They'll join me on the banks of the Rapidan River at Germanna Ford to open the campaign, and then we'll trace the movement of part of the Federal Army into the Virginia Wilderness toward the start of battle. Chris Mackowski of Emerging Civil War for the American Battlefield Trust and I'm standing on the banks of the Rapidan River at Germanna Ford because we're about to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Chancellorsville Campaign, one of the pivotal campaigns of the civil war here in the Eastern Theater. We're going to visit all sorts of sites. Related to this campaign, over the course of the next few days, and we want you to follow along, make sure you like, make sure you share, make sure you subscribe and help people join in on this incredible commemoration. We're going to have a lot of guest stars that are going to join in with us. We're going to start bringing them in today. Our friend Greg Mertz, a former historian here at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. I've got Andrew, Andy Poulton, the professor behind the camera, doing great job. He's holding this microphone. He looks like he's about to start singing to us. So if you hear any crooning in the background. Yeah, there it goes. It could happen. Dan Davis will be joining us in just a few minutes. We're gonna hop in the car with Chris White and take a little drive to follow the route of the army of the Potomac. Sarah Kay Byerly will be joining us, and we've got lots more to come. So we want you to join. To start, I'm going to ask Greg to come in and tell us a little bit about where we're standing. What are we looking at and why is this important to the Chancellorsville campaign?

Well, Germanna Ford originally in the revolutionary time, was a ferry. It's interesting. The first fees for utilizing the ferry, the currency was to. Echo, but throughout its history it had bridges. Here, Ford at the location as well. And during the Civil War it would be utilized in multiple campaigns, including Chancellorsville. The Mine run campaign and the wilderness. We actually have an excellent. Photograph of the bridge area from the wilderness campaign and the pontoon bridges were just a little bit downstream from us from where we stand right now. Now so one of the most important crossings of the the Rapidan River for the various maneuvers in this vicinity.

And Greg, I'm gonna have you come back on here in just a second, but you know, as we set this stage, this river crossing becomes really important because this is how Joe Hooker's gonna get his army across the rivers and converge on Robert. Lead the army of the Potomac has been situated in the north Bank of the Rappahannock River over the course of the winter when Joe Hooker was brought in as commander, he institutes an incredible number of reforms and changes trying to bring the morale of the army up trying to improve its organization and operation. He's going to institute a new vision for cavalry, which we'll talk about in just a second. He's gonna create a new Bureau of Military Intelligence that's going to keep him extremely well informed about what the Confederates are up to, but. Of course, that river is in his way, and so he's going to have to try to figure out a way to get across that river and get at Robert E Lee without suffering the same fate that Ambrose Burnside had suffered the year before in December at the Battle of Fredericksburg. So as Hooker begins his planning and plotting what he wants to do is basically carry out a maneuver that Burnside tried to do in January when he got bogged down on what becomes known as the mud. And he wants to kind of keep the Confederates pinned in Fredericksburg, distracted by a decoy, and then swing the majority of his army to the north, to the West, and then swing down around behind the Confederates. But because the hookers going to move with so many men, he's going to need a number of river crossings in order to get across the river. Without creating a bottleneck, so that's why the Germanna Fort is just one of several that the army is going to use as it makes that menu. Ever. But hookers going to leave half of his army under John Sedgwick back in Fredericksburg on the north Bank of the river and Falmouth, Stafford Heights trying to distract Robert in these attention. Keep him fixated on where he thinks the army still is as Hooker makes this big, broad, sweeping movement. He's going to then. And verge at a little small crossroads, known as Chancellorsville, consolidate his army and then push. To the east. He says my plans are perfect. May God have mercy on Robert E Lee, for I shall have none. In fact, his idea is to really kind of choose his own ground and force Lee to fight on hookers terms, which of course. We all know Robert. He loves to set the terms of battle, but Hooker thinks if he sneaks up on Lee, he's either going to force the Confederates to retreat toward Richmond to Ingloriously fly as he puts it. Or turn and give battle on ground of hookers choosing. And that's the kind of the terms that. Hookers trying to set up. In order to pave the way for this movement, he's going to send George Stoneman's cavalry on a raid South and I want to bring Dan Davis in here to talk about a little bit about what Stoneman does and why that's important and how Stoneman's operations as a cavalry men are actually pretty revolutionary for this army that is still. Kind of trying to struggle to learn how to use its horsemen.


Thanks, Chris. And hey there, everyone. Now one of the reforms that Joseph Hooker implemented when he took command of the Army of the Potomac in January of 1863 was to reorganize his cavalry corps. He's going to put all of the cavalry units in his army under in one command, one corps under one commander, and that was, as Chris mentioned, George Stoneman. He's going to have roughly around 10 to 11,000. Troopers at his disposal. Now hookers plan again. He doesn't want to repeat what Burnside did and attack Lee. Head on at Fredericksburg. He wants to pry Lee out of his Fredericksburg position. Get him away from that defensive barrier of the Rappahannock River. So what Hooker proposes to Stoneman to do and an effective effectively sending away the bulk of his mounted arm through The Who will not be with Hooker. Through the course of the campaign. It's the sandstone. Up the Rappahannock River from their camps in Falmouth across the Rappahannock upstream, around Culpeper County and then. Swing. South from the Rappahannock well off to the South, toward Richmond, getting him behind Lee's army, cutting off Lee's lines of supply and communications. And that is what Hooker believes will finally priley out of Fredericksburg. Lee will have to withdraw back to to defend Richmond. Stoneman will be the Annville hookers. Infantry will follow and be the. Hammer, if you will, and the major battle will be fought somewhere. Off to the South. But Joseph Hooker does not plan for Mother Nature. Stoneman begins his movement in the middle of April only to get bogged down. The skies open up. The rains come the Rappahannock River is running bank full. I think. One trooper said that it was running over 7 feet high at one point in time. Now hookers going to muddle his orders a little bit, he doesn't quite. Know how to use this. Cavalry arms. Something. Of course. The Union Cavalry Union commanders have a major issue with through the course of the war in the Eastern Theater, the orders are muddled. That's going to become a big controversy that we may talk about. Later on, between Stoneman and Hooker. But by the time that the waters have receded, it's time for Stoneman to get going. Hookers change his plan. The infantry is going to follow directly after the cavalry Stoneman's gonna have with him John Beauford's Reserve Brigade, the US Regular, 6 Pennsylvania Cavalry, and David Gregg's division. And he's going to detach William Avery's division to operate off in the direction of Culpepper South of Culpepper toward Orange and Gordonsville along the Orange and Alexandria. Railroad leaving Hooker really with one brigade under Thomas. Even that will remain with the rest of the army. Now, where is Jeb Stuart, where are the Confederates? What? Jeb Stuart is typically where he always is and where we always find Jeb Stewart. He's off to the West in Culpeper County. Stewart has the same issue that. The rest of the of Lee's army has and that he is only going to have a very a minimum force with him. He only has two brigades commanded by the Lee's Rooney Lee and Fitz Lee. However, Lee's gonna make the decision Robert E Lee, that is to keep the bulk of his cavalry. What he has available with him and operating off to the West when the Union infantry crossing. Begins 13th Virginia Cavalry, 9th Virginia Cavalry are going to harass the federal troopers going to be shots fired prisoners taken at a place called Madden's Tavern off to the West in Culpepper. Stewart is gonna begin shadowing those union infantry columns as they approach the rapid anninger Manafort Federals get to the Rapidan first Stewart, or rather, to Germanna first Stewart. Across here, so he has to swing all the way downstream, down off to the South and West, he crosses at Raccoon. Ford moves on to Todd's Tavern. There's gonna be a very sharp fight with Duncan Mcvicker in the six New York Cavalry. And what is known as Alsops field near what will become the spot for what will become part of the Spotsylvania. Courthouse battlefield on the night of April the 30th, but Stewart is finally going to reunite with the Stonewall Jackson Robert Lee in the main force, April 30th into May 1st. Stewart has to take that long circuitous roundabout route to get around those union infantry columns. But again, there's going to have the bulk of. His cavalry available to him. To operate and support the army operations serve is that screening force that intelligence force, something that Hooker really does not have at his disposal because of his decision to send Stoneman off to the South. Chris.

Now one of the interesting things about the delay that that rain causes in mid-april and you know delays Stoneman's advance is in some strange way. Vindicates Ambrose Burnside. Why? Because when the Federals moved down toward Fredericksburg in November of 1862 and they find their way blocked and no pontoons get across the river, Hooker looks up river and he says we could cross at some of these up river crossings and get to the other side of the river. It's that way. And Bernstein says, no, no, no, we can't do that because you know, the weather could cause some of these Fords to flood. We could have portions of our army cut off. And so that's why Burnside initially resisted that idea that Hooker had put forward. And so the very thing that Burnside was worried about happens in April when that poor weather. Thumbs raises up the the the water levels and makes this passable barrier and so. Hooker doesn't really learn that lesson very well because he's still going to try to make this move and he gets stymied right away and Greg, let me bring you back on here for just a second. I had the privilege a couple of years ago to take a canoe trip down this river with Greg, and we're here at the Rapidan River. And how does this relate to the Rappahannock River? And tell me a little bit about the topography. Of these steep banks and how it affects. Our ability to get across here.

Getting a grasp of the river network is very important for understanding this campaign. You heard from both Chris and Dan about the. Main portion of the army being centered in Fredericksburg off to the east of us well. They're situated the infantry men and artillery. Men are situated on a portion of the Rappahannock River. Where there is just one stream that is a barrier between the Union army to the north of the river and the Confederates to the South. But. About 12 miles West of Fredericksburg, this river, the Rapidan, the most important tributary for the Rappahannock, runs into it and 12 miles West of Fredericksburg, also, not coincidentally, is where Chancellorsville is located. So if the Union army is to maneuver any further West of the confluence of those two rivers, they not only have to get across the Rappahannock, but also get across the Rapidan twice the barrier than if you go closer to Fredericksburg. So while the Confederates had their infantry. Foot soldiers watching some of the most important river crossings to the east. They simply had their cavalry patrolling the area where there were the two different rivers. And if the Union army does decide to come out here and take on the 2 river. Barriers. Where do they find themselves? But in the middle of a 70 square mile region known as the wilderness, a thick, dense vegetation that has mainly developed because of all the iron industries in this vicinity, with trees being cut down to convert into charcoal to fuel the iron. And the Union army, with its larger army, with its larger numbers and superior types of cannon in theory, would like to get into some open ground, or at least get into some wooded area where the there's not much undergrowth to take advantage of their superior numbers and bear down on the Confederates. So that's a little about how the topography of the area, both the rivers and the vegetation, fit into this campaign.

And Greg, I'll keep you right here with me for a second, because as I look back here, the the river looks pretty shallow, but I see lots of rocks. How hard is it physically to get across this river, particularly with this bank being so steep?

We have various reports that were done of the river to try to explain the situation at each of the various river crossings. You do have to consider the steepness of the banks. You have to consider what the bottom of the river is like. Is it a nice kind of stone that can support something, or is it muddy? Likewise the width. Sometimes you might have a nice bottom, but you've got to stay straight. If you go a little bit too far upstream or downstream could drop into a hole. So the Union army in particular would have various at various times, get reports about the conditions of these Fords, and it is one thing, of course, for the farmers that live around here to go across a Ford, making one trip, maybe with a simple, fairly light wagon. That's another thing. Have 10s of thousands of soldiers moving across that same spot and heavy wagons and so forth. They the number of troops that crossed over into Culpepper County. 10,000 cavalry men followed by some 50,000. Three men. You basically need some help in bridging to get across and one of the interesting things here is that the Confederates had a bridge building team in this vicinity in preparation for what we now know of as the Gettysburg Campaign. Robert E Lee's plan. At this time, a major portion of his army was in the southeastern part of the state of Virginia under James Longstreet. They're there to try to keep open some supply lines, but also it eased the supply problem of the army here in Fredericksburg. Robert E Lee was getting two trains. Day and that was not sufficient to feed his entire army. He went to the person who's in charge of the railroad and said, can't you put more cars on your trains or make additional trips? And he was told that that would stress out the equipment and he would not get the two guaranteed trains and interestingly. The man in charge was Pennsylvania born and was a Union sympathizer, Samuel Ruth, who was part of Joseph Hooker's Spike Camp spy operations. So Joseph Hooker was well aware of Lee's problems with supply. Lies. Lee had a lot of his cavalry and a lot of his artillery dispersed to make it easier to supply them. His plan was once the spring came and the pastures here around Fredericksburg Greened up and could support his army that way without the need to haul in as much hay and other fodder. That is when he would assemble his troops together, and they're already thinking of the. The Gettysburg campaign. But he has bridge. Builders here and when the Union army would arrive here, they would take some of the materials that the Confederates had planned to use to build the bridge and started to build on top of some Piers. Interestingly, some wood fell down into the river and got wedged against the Piers. As the Rapids came and pushed against it, and rather than kind. To come up with a plan, well, it gets basically did come up with a Plan B, and once they found them so wedge. It's like, wow, that's pretty sturdy. Let's just build our bridge right on top of the water. So here we have some examples of the initial Union soldiers wading over the river themselves and then eventually utilizing. Some of the bridging material. Now I'm crossing over the river. They had some hazards with that. They realized that the water for a lot of people was up to their armpits and that they could lose their balance. So they did put some horsemen downstream when they had to Ford troops and they took the taller men and mix them in with some of the smaller. And that might be able to grab a hold of them and and help them in crossing and even with those precautions, we do know that some men die drowning in the Union army crossing over the river here. So there were some interesting casualties early in the war. War federal some of the first federal soldiers to die in this campaign drowned while crossing Germana.

So as Hooker then begins to consolidate on this side of the river, he's going to head down toward Fredericksburg. Chancellorsville is going to be his point of consolidation. We're going to hop in the car with Chris White, and he's going to take us in that direction. So we can follow in the footsteps of the army of the Potomac. And here we are in the car. This is Joe Hookers command car and we are heading toward Chancellorsville. Thank. To the fine driving of Chris White.

Thank you, Doctor Makowski. We are actually heading back to Chancers, though we're kind of facing north as we start off here and now we're gonna be heading out towards the east. We're heading out towards Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the. Wilderness. So we have a a short drive out to the battlefield, which we figured we would utilize and you're inside the command car with myself, Chris White. Greg Mertz is off to my right. I think Sarah Byerly is behind me. We have Dan Davis behind Greg and then riding way in the back, where he belongs is Doctor Chris Mackowski. Bringing up the rear. So we talked a lot about the the river. Front down there along the Rapidan. You know it named after Queen Anne known as the Rapid Anne River. Just smash it together. One of my friends back in the day told me he thought it was an insult to the queen because that usually meant that you were a slow person back in the day. But not sure that's what it meant. As it was a fast moving river at the time, but as we leave Germanna, which is a place you can actually come out and visit, and we encourage you to come right down to the riverfront, we're gonna turn right onto modern day Route 3. And this is roughly where the army of the Potomac, at least one portion of it, the 11th and 12th core, will be marching down. To open up our Chancellorsville campaign. And as we head down this way, we are now facing basically due E we're going to follow the road here, going to go down past Walmart. You may have heard about a lot of Walmart action out in the Wilderness crossing area more than a decade ago. Walmart. Wanted to install a facility near the crossroads at the wilderness, which we're gonna pass through, and after a prolong. Battle, if you will, between Walmart and preservationists, Walmart relented and actually moved down to this location, which is just a few miles from that original location at Wilderness Crossing. So it was a victory for them because they were still able to put up their facility and a victory for preservationist because they didn't put it down at or near the historic. Intersection of Route 20 and Route 3, the Orange Turnpike and the Orange Plank well at times called the Orange Plank Rd. But the Orange Turnpike turned West and Route 3 heading east. So as we're heading down this way, if anybody wants to chime in, feel free. But I think that we're talking about Mr. FJ Hooker down by the river front of him. Right or wrong, Chris?

We were just a little bit FJ Hooker. The term of contempt that Robert E Lee prescribed to his federal opponent. He didn't think very highly of Mr. FJ Fighting Joe Hooker, who gets his name from a topographer's error as someone sends off a telegram. Describing some of the fighting that Hooker was doing on the peninsula fighting Dash Joe Hooker and then leave out that dash. So Hooker gets this nickname and then Robert E Lee twists it even further with that turn of contempt.

Yeah, you don't see a lot of contempt out of Robert E Lee. He's an interesting guy. He will call John Pope. That miscreant that's about as far as. As harsh as he will be, many of his rebukes to his own officers will be a glare if he doesn't respond to you. In fact, in the wilderness, he's gonna glare at Henry Heath at one point whenever Heath gives. Kind of a sheepish answer of why he wasn't ready to meet in assault on May 6th, and we'll kind of do the same thing to Cadmus Wilcox, but then tell him to go down the road to reform his men. So Lee has what is termed by some of his own men, a wicked temper on him. So it's interesting to see and and lead throughout the winter of 6263 have been overcoming. Some illnesses, he said he had been beat on by the doctors, like an old boiler. And you know, there's a question mark around Robert E Lee's going into this campaign, not from a command standpoint, cause it's Robert. Lee, he's three 1:00 and 1:00 during this war so far. But there's a a question mark about his health on the other side, we have Mr. FJ Hooker. This is his first campaign as a army commander. He talks a big game, he's reorganized the army, he's reinvigorated it. He's resupplied it, and he's put it on the fighting trim that will eventually bring it to victory at Gettysburg in July of 18. 63 But he still has to face off with Robert E Lee and his vaunted army of northern. Yeah. As we head down to this area, we're still heading east along modern day Route 3. This is this road will take you out to call Pepper Virginia behind us. If you would go to the West to those of the lanes onto our left as we head east and we come up into this area, this will be the lake of the woods. This is coming into the wilderness battlefield. Area and as you come up onto the lake of the woods, there is a lake up here, hence the name lake of the woods. That was not here during the time of the American Civil War. In fact, there's no large bodies of water outside of the rivers up in this portion of Virginia today, there's many bodies of Water, Lake, Wilderness, Lake of the woods. We also have. Motts Run reservoir up to the north. East of us. Along Route 610, so just to keep that in mind.

And this is a great illustration that the wilderness is not all that wild. You'll see a lot of development along Route 3. Not a big surprise. This is the road that brought the armies to the to the area, and it's still the road that's used today. And so that's why we see a lot of growth around it. But off in the woods to our right, for instance, that huge housing development that Chris just talked about. Thousands of homes. It's one of three large sub develop subdivisions in the wilderness, and so that's why preservation becomes so important. Because these development is just gobbling up all this very precious and limited battlefield. Property so we can see off to the side a lot of those homes. It's beautiful subdivision, you know, really nice spot. But of course it really kind of impedes on the integrity of these battlefields.

Yeah. As we come down into this area, it's important to remember we're still battling for preservation out into this this vicinity. You know, the wilderness is a dense second and third growth forest. It's a tangle that we'll talk about throughout our videos here for the 160th of of Chancellors. But it is still an area that is embattled with between preservationist and folks who are trying to develop this area. In fact, there's another idea to expand this area right where we're looking at right in this this vicinity as we speak here in 2023 to put in a large facility that would really. Impact the wilderness area out here and in what makes this important. In May of 1864, the armies come marching through here in December, November and December of 1863, the armies come through here and in April and May of 1863 the armies come through here, they're back and forth through. So many times and they would come down through the wilderness Run Valley, which we're entering here to our right is the May 1864 Battlefield. The battle sheets, which will first hit Robert E Lee and Ulysses Grant together then as we we start to ascend out of this valley. The historic Rd. would have actually been off to our right hand side coming up the modern intersection we just passed is not the historic intersection we're actually coming up on to where the wilderness. Tavern, owned in 1863 by William Sims. The third he has 93 acres out here on the wilderness battlefield and owned a Tavern in this area, and one of the last remaining pieces of that Tavern was just off to our right, a building that burned in 1978, and all that's left is a a chimney that's kind of sticking. Up.

Now this is the area where there's. Going to be. A huge field hospital during the Battle of Chancellorsville. And so folks are familiar with the story of Stonewall Jackson. He's going to be brought back. Look how long it took me to get his name worked in there, though. This is the area where he's going to be brought back. He's going to be assessed, the amputation is going to take place, but he is one of of hundreds of thousands of casualties that are going to be treated in this area as they are triaged close to the front, brought back here and then tended in a in a massive hospital complex.

Yeah. And as Chris is working in Stonewall Jackson, I'm gonna work in some cavalry during the Union March down from Germany. Ford's Colonel Thomas Owen of the Third Virginia Cavalry are going to skirmish with the head of the Union Infantry Column. Not a major engagement, but it's going to take place roughly in the area of Wilderness Tavern. Again, not a major engagement, but just the Confederates. They unlimber a couple of guns fire into the head of the column, and then they dispersed just to let the Yankees know that they're still out there. They're still operating in the area.

So we just passed Brock Rd. which runs north-south. It's modern day Route 613. If you take that right hand turn at the Valero Mart, you would go 12 miles South Down to Spotsylvania Courthouse. Another May 1864 action, but you would also cross through the Brock Rd. Plank Rd. intersection. Very important intersection there in the wilderness battle in May of 1864. But the Brock Rd. is portion that we will follow in another video of Stonewall Jackson's famed flank March. In fact, we are entering into the very edges of the Chancellorsville battlefield right now. We're coming up into the area where Stonewall Jackson will start to deploy 3 divisions, nearly 31,000 men for an assault on the evening of May 2nd, 1863. The members of the American Battlefield Trust, as well as our friends at the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. Since around 1998 have worked very diligently to help put back together the flank attack area where Stonewall Jackson will launch that flamed famed flank attack on the evening of May 2nd. In fact, when we get past Laurel Hill Cemetery over here on the left hand side, we will see the National Park Service. Planned and that will be Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, encompassing more than 7500 acres down here in Virginia. And it is going to encompass Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville Wilderness and Spotsylvania. And it was established in 1927. So as we break out into the opening on the left, this opening would have been owned by the Hawkins as well as the tallies during the time of the battle, we would had a a farm off to our right kind of in the woods known as the Burton Farm, which plays a role in Stonewall Jackson's flank attack on meat, with Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E Lee's nephew, over there and kind of overlooked this area and. Overlook the union's right flank. We do think that fizzled. Took some, I don't know. He he took a little bit of a stretched imagination sometimes in his post war writings about exactly where they were and how much they saw and and things on that day. But we do know that Stonewall Jackson was just down this road for about 621 off to our right, the orange plank Rd. But there's all kinds of features out here on our right hand side. Is 42 acres that the trust as well as the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has just preserved the site of Dawdles Tavern, which was a Tavern site owned by Melicia chancellor and was the headquarters of Union 11th Corps commander Oliver Otis Howard. So there's all kinds of things to see here. If you drive in from Germany or drive out to Germanna, and I know Dan wants to mention some cab coming up here on the right hand side, we'll see the wilderness presidential resort very shortly. Dan, anything about the 8th Pennsylvania cap?

Yeah. Pennsylvania Cavalry on the evening of May 2nd is going to ride up from Hazel Grove and reach the Orange Turnpike roughly in the area that we are about to or that we. Are approaching. Unfortunately for them, they're going to run right into the final stages of Jackson's famous flank attack, and we talked about this and a couple of our other videos with that, that fighting the fighting takes place roughly right here in this area. The 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, unfortunately, is going to be cut to pieces, but their division commander fellow named AL for Pleasanton, had an overly inflated. Opinion of himself will write to Joseph Hooker in so many words in his after action report that he single handedly with Warren Regiment was able to stop the entire Confederate offensive. All by himself.

I think our friend Eric Wittenberg said it perfectly. He's a compulsive liar.

This is a tough turn to make. I just want to caution folks when they do this themselves. The Route Route 3 is really busy and so you've got to make sure you're using extra caution as you cross the divided highway because it can get really busy and dangerous.

So we're on a historic Rd. trace. Come right back to it in a moment. I just want to show you the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center. We're going to visit here later on in our tour. This will be the wounding site of Stonewall Jackson will give that part of the story away, but this this property is a. A place where you can come to you can watch a 22 minute orientation film, take a 35 minute walking tour. You can see a museum go into a bookstore and you can also most importantly, use the restroom.

There's also a fantastic three mile hiking trail called the Chancellorsville History Loop Trail. If you come here in the mornings in the summertime, you're app to find me in my morning hike. It's an excellent way to see the the terrain that took that the the battle took place on in part or in part on on the 3rd of May and the some of the fall back position that hunters going to have on the 4th. Of May, and it's a great way to tour. On that ground.

OK, so this will give you a better angle of the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center. You can head on out here and check it out. The National Park Service Staffs this building year round, and we're gonna take her right up here right now. We're heading due West, and we're actually going to take her right here, onto the Bullock Rd. in 1863. This road did. Exist. There were a number of roads cutting through this area and the Bullock Rd. obviously was not an asphalt Rd. at the time. Over in the woods you might notice 3 structures as well as a water tank. The most historic structure, and the chancers of Battlefield is over there. That's where I used to live. So that's what makes it very historic and some of the Rangers do live on site here in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. They also we use them as offices. You might see houses. Scattered across the battlefield, non historic structures, those were built in the 19. 60s as we head down here along the Bullock Rd. we're heading roughly northeast. We're heading towards Ellies Ford Rd. We're heading kind of towards Fredericksburg at this point and we're driving through at some point. No man's land, where some Confederates on May 3rd will try to, but. Up against some of the Federals to the north, northeast of us. It won't go well for the Confederates. It's one of the more positive aspects of the battle. On May 3rd for the. Federals. And then we'll come up into a clearing here that was owned by Oscar and Catherine Bullock. They had about 300 acres here on the Chancellorsville battlefield, roughly 80 acres were what we would call them improved. And she will live here with her husband, be another a number of other folks living here, including five. Slaves, but most importantly to the story of the Battle of of Chancellorsville. There'll be a kid who lived here with her, one of her relatives named David Kyle, who serves as a guide. On the evening of May 2nd for Stonewall. Jackson, the bulk house was actually destroyed during the battle. At one point, Joe Hooker will be back here, laid on a blanket and nearly hit by an artillery shell for the second time during the battle. And that's something that we will cover here shortly. So we call up to the stop sign where at the apex over on the left you might see of hookers last line. This is a fall back position. For the Union Army of the Potomac, and we're making a right on to Elies Ford Rd. where we're heading towards the South SE now. And on the left hand side, you'll be seeing quickly a a road that's known as Hooker Drive and that will be part of the Union second core line. But you might notice a building tucked off into the woods and that will be and it's coming up just around this corner that will be a 1930s building built. By the Civilian Conservation Corps, who have a lot to do with the early construction of park roads and other facilities here at Chancellor. Still ahead, you might be able to see some red lights. That is the most important intersection for the chance result campaign, and that is the Chancellor. They'll intersection. We're going to make a right into auto tour. Stop #3 on the park driving tour. And that is the Chancellor House site itself. And we are going to jump out here in this video. Start another video to talk about the chancellor house, the chancellor, ladies Joe Hooker and the fighting that took place up here at the most important intersection of Chancellorsville.

The American Battlefield Trust and our members have saved more than 1365 acres at Chancellorsville. If you'd like to help in the ongoing preservation efforts there, you can find out more at our website, You can see a video version of this podcast episode on the American Battlefield. YouTube page search for Chancellorsville 160th anniversary. The Trust YouTube page has thousands of hours of great content covering not only the civil war, but the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and you can go beyond the military story to the political and social sides of American history and go from the big personalities to the common soldier and the civilians, all at the American battlefield. YouTube page and if you enjoyed today's podcast, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. We'll have more episodes coming up and of course, don't forget to subscribe to the American Battlefield Press YouTube page as we. Thanks again to our historians Chris White, Dan Davis and Greg Mertz. And thanks to our audio engineer Jackson Mackowski. I'm Chris Mackowski for the American Battlefield trust. Thanks for all you do to support Battlefield preservation and education.
About the Podcast

Hosted by American Battlefield Trust historians, "Boom Goes the History" transcends traditional storytelling by leveraging the power of modern technology to transport listeners to the very locations where history unfolded. With vivid narration the series recreates the landscapes and scenarios of pivotal battles, providing a visceral experience that enhances the understanding of historical events.

Renowned historians, each an authority in their field, guide listeners through the intricate details of each battlefield, offering deep insights and contextualizing the significance of every skirmish. Their passion for history is contagious, making even the most complex narratives accessible and engaging for a diverse audience.

The podcast also boasts special guests, ranging from fellow historians to descendants of key historical figures, adding a layer of personal connection to the stories being told. These guests contribute unique perspectives, anecdotes, and familial insights, enriching the overall narrative and fostering a deeper appreciation for the human elements that shaped the course of history.

"Boom Goes the History" offers a fresh perspective on familiar tales, making history accessible, engaging, and relevant to a broad audience. By leveraging the expertise of passionate historians, this podcast series provides an immersive and educational experience that transcends the constraints of time, bringing the past into the present for a new generation of history enthusiasts.

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The American Battlefield Trust's Battle of Chancellorsville page includes history articles, battle maps, photos, video, and other historical resources...