Chancellorsville | Fight for the Intersection | May 3, 1863
The intersection of the Orange Turnpike, Ely's Ford Road, and the Orange Plank Road formed the Chancellorsville Crossroads. Named for the Chancellor family, whose commodious mansion sat astride the northwestern arm of the crossroads, this intersection proved to be the most important in the Eastern Theater of the Civil War from April 30-May 3, 1863.
Union Army of the Potomac commander, General Joseph Hooker, established his headquarters in the Chancellor Mansion, and nearly 90,000 Union soldiers strode through or took position adjacent to the home and intersection.
On May 3, 1863, General Robert E. Lee launched an all-out assault on the Federal lines. Rebels and Yankees grappled in a death struggle around the crossroads for more than five hours. In the course of those five hours, some 17,000 men fell. By 9:30 am, Hooker lay wounded. The Chancellor's Mansion was engulfed in a conflagration as wounded soldiers poured from the home. From the east, south, and west, Confederate soldiers crushed the Federal salient position at the crossroads. Only the stout resistance of Federal artillery and the masterful rearguard fighting of Union divisions commanded by Generals John White Geary and Winfield Scott Hancock held back the butternut and gray tide. As a victorious Lee rode into the intersection. One of Lee's staff officers later recalled it was through battles such as Chancellorsville "that men in ancient times rose to the dignity of gods." While the battle was still far from over, the major fighting around the Chancellorsville Crossroads was nearly at a close.