If you have one day for this trip, spend it exploring the recently restored Sunken Road sector of the Fredericksburg Battlefield, site of one of the most lopsided victories of the Civil War; and also stop by the Chancellorsville Battlefield visitor center, site of the wounding of Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was one of the most lopsided victory for Confederate General Robert E. Lee. From December 11-15, 1862, the Federal Army of the Potomac attempted to dislodge Lee's army from the fortified heights on the west and south sides of the city of Fredericksburg. Although the Federals did manage to breakthrough Lee's right flank, the success was short lived, and the Confederate position held strong for the remainder of the battle.
The Sunken Road– The focal point of seven Federal assaults throughout December 13, Confederate soldiers from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia integrated an existing stonewall and well worn road into their defensive line, threw back every wave. By the end of the day some 30,000 Union soldiers attacked the Confederate line here, nearly 1 in 3 of those soldiers became a casualty.
Chatham – This Georgian style plantation served as a Federal artillery platform, hospital, and headquarters. Famous visitors to the home include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, and Dr. Mary Walker.
The Slaughter Pen Farm – The site of one of the greatest preservation victories by the Civil War Trust, this 208 acre site witnessed vicious fighting on the afternoon of December 13. No less than five Federal soldiers were presented with the Medal of Honor for their actions in and around this field.
The Battle of Chancellorsville is regarded by many as Robert E. Lee's greatest victory. From April 29-May 6, 1863, Lee's army battled General Joseph Hooker's Federal Army of the Potomac around the wilderness crossroads of Chancellorsville. Although outnumbered more than 2-to-1, Lee split his undersized no less than three times in the face of a superior foe. Through daring and boldness Lee's men out fought and outmaneuvered Hooker's army. In the end Lee was victorious, but it came at a high cost. Nearly 22% of Lee's army lined the casualty list. The Confederates lost 64 of 130 regimental commanders. And Stonewall Jackson was wounded on the dark battlefield by his own men, and died of pneumonia on May 10, 1863. Chancellorsville was Lee's last offensive battlefield victory.
First Day Battlefield — The Battle of Chancellorsville kicked into high gear on the late morning of May 1, 1863. Confederate forces under the commander of Stonewall Jackson, struck one of the three Federal columns marching toward the Confederate rear at Fredericksburg. In these open and rolling fields some two miles east of Chancellorsville, the two sides clashed. After a see-saw battle, the Federals turned back to Chancellorsville, giving Robert E. Lee and his army the initiative.
The Chancellor House Site – The focal point of Lee's May 3rd offensive, the Chancellor home served as a Federal hospital and headquarters throughout the battle. The home was destroyed by fire during the battle. Rebuilt after the war, the home again was consumed by fire in 1927.
Catharine Furnace Ruins – In the antebellum days this region of Virginia was dotted with iron and gold furnaces, the stack of the Catharine Furnace is all that remains of a once prosperous furnace complex. During the Battle of Chancellorsville Stonewall Jackson's 29,000 man flanking column marched past the complex on the afternoon of May 2nd. In 1864 the complex was burned by Federal cavalry under the command of General George A. Custer.
Jackson's Flank Attack Site – On the afternoon of May 2, 1863, the right flank of the Union Army was located in this vicinity. Near 5:15 P.M. the first wave of Stonewall Jackson's flanking column struck the unsuspecting Federals. Within hours the Union flank was no more and Stonewall Jackson lay wounded by his own men.
If you have time:
Visit Ellwood, the historic home on the adjacent Wilderness Battlefield served as a Union headquarters and hospital during the Battle of the Wilderness, and the amputated left arm of Stonewall Jackson is buried in the family cemetery.
Visit one of the many river-crossing along the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers.
Do what strikes your fancy. Chancellorsville is a battlefield on which you could spend countless hours and never do the same thing twice. Explore what interests you!
Insider tip: Stop by the often overlooked Salem Church–site of the last Federal offensive action of the battle; make the 27-mile trek to the Stonewall Jackson Shrine, where the famous general died on May 10, 1863.