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Jackson’s Flank Attack, May 2, 1863

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Jackson's Flank Attack, May 2, 1863 (September 2018)
Jackson's Flank Attack, May 2, 1863 (September 2018)

American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Chancellorsville - Jackson’s Flank Attack

After learning that the Union right flank was “hanging in the air,” Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson settled upon a highly aggressive plan to march Jackson’s forces around the Union positions and onto that exposed flank. After a hard and dusty march on May 2, Jackson’s column reached its jumping off point for their attack upon the unsuspecting Federal right flank. At 5:20 pm, Jackson’s line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union Eleventh Corps. However, some Federal troops did rally, resist the advance, and counterattack. Disorganization and darkness ended the fighting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was shot by his own troops in the darkness and fell seriously wounded.

J.E.B. Stuart took temporary command of Jackson’s Corps. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Federal line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in a defensive “U” with his back to the river at United States Ford. On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses at Salem Church, Hooker crossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock. This battle is considered by many historians to be Lee’s greatest victory. 

Learn More: The Battle of Chancellorsville