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"The rebel army is now the legitimate property of The Army of the Potomac."

At midnight on May 1, Lafayette McLaws headed west with his division, followed by Jackson and his entire 2nd Corps. They arrived soon after sunlight; Stonewall lining up on Anderson's left and McLaw's on his right. "Old Blue Light" (Jackson) had instructions directly from Lee ordering him to repulse the enemy. There was only one way Jackson knew how to do that, and that was to attack. He then told McLaws and Anderson to prepare their divisions for an assault.

Hooker, too, had ordered an advance. But between Chancellorsville and Tabernacle Church on the Orange Turnpike, Sykes Division of Meade's Corps met opposition. At 11:20 a.m., the Battle of Chancellorsville began. He unexpectedly ran into the skirmish line of Richard Anderson's Division.

After brushing them aside, he struck the main body. Since his division was out-flanked on either side, Sykes slowly gave ground to the surging Confederates. One of Couch's divisional commanders, under Winfield Scott Hancock, was preparing the reinforce the wavering line when he received orders from Hooker instructing him to retreat back to Chancellorsville.

Slocum had already fallen back under similar orders, and was closely followed by McLaws' division on the Orange Plank Road. The four Federal Corps commanders were stunned at the sudden loss of confidence by Hooker. At 2 a.m. on May 2, Howard, Couch, Meade, and Slocum reported that their sectors could be held against assault.

Howard held the right flank of the army with a division on the turnpike and two others more eastward at Wilderness Church. Sickles was held in reserve with his 3 divisions behind 2 divisions of Slocum and one of Couch's. Couch's other division laid on the right flank of Meade, who's Corps was the left flank of the army at Mineral Spring Run.

Hooker was now hoping for an all-out attack by the Confederates, and even went so far to say, "The rebel army is now the legitimate property of The Army of the Potomac." The fact that Stoneman was away with basically all the cavalry and J.E.B. Stuart was in his immediate prescence didn't worry him.

Go Back!

Battle of Chancellorsville: Return to the homepage
Prelude to Battle: April 1863: Return to it

Read On!

May 2, 1863: Jackson's Apex
May 2, 1863: Continued: A Star has fallen
May 3-5, 1863: Lee cleans house
Death of a Titan: Lee loses his right arm

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