American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 1, 1863
In the last days of April, 1863, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker led three army corps on a movement to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg. Passing the Rapidan via Germanna and Ely’s Fords (three miles north on this map), the Federals concentrated near Chancellorsville (two miles west) on April 30 and May 1.
As Hooker’s men moved east toward Fredericksburg, they encountered stiff Confederate resistance. Maj. Gen. George Meade’s V Corps met Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws’ Confederate division on the Orange Turnpike, and Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum’s XII Corps clashed with Maj. Gen. Richard Anderson’s division along the Orange Plank Road.
Pushed back by McLaws and Anderson and hearing reports of more arriving Confederates, Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate at Chancellorsville. Pressed closely by Lee’s advance, Hooker adopted a defensive posture, giving Lee the initiative.