Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 1, 1863

May 1, 1863

Battle of Chancellorsville


Day 1:  Lee’s Confederates are on the road before dawn, marching westward towards the Wilderness, and the Chancellorsville crossroads.  Lee leaves Gen. Early and his division to hold the hills above Fredericksburg, only 10,000 men.  For the Federals, Slocum’s Corps and Sykes’s division (Meade’s V Corps) are out in front, trying to make contact with the Confederates.  Stonewall Jackson marches his men swiftly and, in combination with Anderson’s division, moves westward along two parallel roads---the Orange Plank Road and the Old Turnpike---to strike first at the Yankees, instead of waiting for them to come.  The Rebels drive forward, and soon Sykes’s troops are being outflanked, and Slocum’s are being pushed back.  Although Couch’s troops arrive and begin to bolster Sykes, Hooker takes caution and sends dispatches ordering the Federal to break off action with the enemy.  Slocum is disgusted but complies with the order.  Couch and Sykes at first refuse to obey the order, but they finally obey.  Sykes is outflanked finally, and retreats as the Rebels pursue almost all the way to Catherine Furnace. 

That evening, Lee and Jackson meet and confer near Catherine Furnace to make plans for the next day.  Jackson believes that Hooker has lost his nerve.  Gen. Stuart arrives with a scouting report that shows Hooker’s far right flank (Howard’s XI Corps) to be “in the air” and unanchored.  Jackson proposes to make a forced march around and to attack the Yankees at that spot.  Lee agrees, and once again takes the chancy choice of dividing his army in the face of the enemy.

---Battle of Port Gibson, Mississippi – Grant’s troops begin to arrive near Port Gibson around 3:00 AM, where they find Gen. John S. Bowen and his division of Confederate troops.  Since Bowen had sent his cavalry off to chase Grierson’s raiders, as ordered by Gen. Pemberton, Bowen had little information about Grant or the strength of the Federals advancing against his position; he does not realize that he is facing 20,000 Federal troops with his mere 6,000.  Grant gives orders to Gen. McClernand to attack with his corps, but McClernand had neglected to issues rations to his soldiers, and he also mismanages the assault so that the Rebels were soon outflanking him---Cockerell’s Missouri brigade hits McClernand in the right flank, bringing McClernand’s advance to a halt.  The Union attack bogs down.  Gen. James McPherson arrives with more troops, and takes command of his own corps.  He soon effects a turning maneuver that breaks Bowen’s line, and the Confederates are in full retreat up the Bayou Pierre.  Union Victory.

Losses:         Union, 861              Confederate, 787

Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant, USA

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