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A Threat to the Rear

By dawn on the morning of the 3rd, Hooker had reestablished his line in a V-shape with Reynolds deployed along Hunting Run, Meade at the southern apex where the roads from Ely's and U.S. Fords came together, and the fragments of Howard's Corps reassembled along Mineral Spring Run so the flanks were anchored on the Rapidan and Rappahannok. Couch and Slocum still held near Fairview. Hooker ordered Sickles to abandon Hazeel Grove, which turned out to be the key to the rest of the battle.

Stuart advanced to Hazel Grove and placed 70 guns atop it's peak as Sickles was leaving. 30 more guns raked the western flank and another 24 were on the plank road to the southeast. Sickles', Couch's, and Slocum's troops broke under the fire.

While Stuart was pressing east, Lee was pressing northwest up the Plank Road with Anderson's and McLaw's divisions. He hoped to rejoin the two wings of his seperated army near Chancellorsville to combine their attacks and destroy Hooker's Army. Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Lee had his wish. Marse Robert rode into Chancellorsville on top of Traveller with the welcome of a thunderous ovation from his Army. Soon a courier arrived from Fredericksburg with news that Sedgwick had pressed back Early's division. Jubal retreated south, while Sedgwick pushed westward into Lee's rear. This threat had to be taken care of immediately.

Postponing the assault against Hooker, Lee sent McLaw's division to stall the 22,000 surging Yankees in his rear. At 4:30 p.m. Sedgwick met further resistance and was unable to force a spearhead and soon set up defensive positions for the night.

On Monday, May 4, Hooker had greatly improved his defenses above and below U.S. Ford for an escape route. Lee shifted half of Heth's division to take cover of Anderson's position on the right, whom he sent east to join McLaws. Stuart had roughly 25,000 men to hold of Hooker's 80,000 if the northern commander decided to retake the offensive. Lee's remaining 22,000 Confederates were moving against Sedgwick. He soon went to planning his destruction. Anderson was to attack from the south, while McLaws assaulted from the west, and Early from the east. It was 6 p.m. before all were in position for the attack.

What followed was brief and not what Lee or anyone else had expected. But when it was over, 4,600 Federals had fallen and by May 6, Sedgwick crossed with his entire commanded over the Rappahannok. By now Hooker had ordered a retreat.

Federal losses amounted to 17,287 while Lee lost 12,821. Meade and Reynolds had less than 1,000 combined casualties, while Sedgwick and Sickles had lost 4 times as many men. This shows how little "Fighting" Joe Hooker actually fought.

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Battle of Chancellorsville: Return to the Homepage
Prelude to Battle: April 1863: Return to it
May 1, 1863: Return to it
May 2, 1863: Return to it
May 2, 1863: Continued: Return to it

Read On!

Death of a Titan: Lee loses his right arm

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