Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2, 1863

May 2, 1863

Battle of Chancellorsville

Day 2 – Having blunted the Federal advance with attacks on the first day, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia splits into two parts. Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson takes his three divisions (Colston, Rodes, and A.P. Hill) on a long, circuitous route south and then west to get around Hooker’s exposed flank—the right flank, which was "in the air" or not anchored on anything. This part of the Union line is held by Gen. Oliver O. Howard’s XI Corps, a patchwork outfit of green troops and veterans with a large proportion of German immigrants in its ranks and officer corps. Howard has his line along the Old Turnpike, which runs lengthwise through the Wilderness. 

Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, USA

The rest of Lee’s force—about 14,000 men in the divisions of Anderson and McLaws—is deployed into line facing northwest to oppose principally the XII Corps (Slocum) and the II Corps (Couch). On this flank, the Rebels do some probing and noisy demonstrations, to distract the Yankees. Hooker is concerned enough that he sends for Reynolds and the I Corps from Fredericksburg to bolster his lines. 

May 2, Battle of Chancellorsville: the route of Jackson's March
Click map to enlarge

Jackson, meanwhile, is marching hard, and as he turns the corner at Catherine Furnace onto the Wellford Furnace Road, his columns are spotted by forward pickets of one of Sickles’ Divisoins, under Gen. Birney. At Hazel Grove, Birney orders his artillery to open fire on the Rebels, with little effect. Sickles reports that he observed the gray infantry passing that same spot for 3 hours. Sickles’ alert gets back to Hooker’s Headquarters, along with Sickles’ opinion that the Rebels are retreating. Hooker later relents and allows Sickles to pursue the Rebels he sees. But this advance is slowed down by a spirited demonstration of resistance by a single Georgia regiment. By 5:30, Jackson has all three divisions line up in a column of divisions: Rodes first, with Colston behind him, and A.P. Hill last. Jackson’s lines surge forward at 5:30 and smash into the unprotected flank of Howard’s XI Corps, which offers a few spots of resistance, but finally begins to collapse and deteriorate into clumps of retreated troops. Howard’s corps is routed, and the Rebels move steadily forward, on past Wilderness Church and on down the Turnpike toward Chancellor House. Charles Devens’s division breaks up, although Gen. Carl Schurz, a competent leader, pulls his division from an east-west orientation to a north-south orientation in very little time, and his line is a strong one. However, the Confederates’ line is much longer and, after a while, they lap around Schurz’s flanks, and his men fall back. At Fairview, close to Hooker’s HQ, 37 cannon from the XII Corps form the core of a line, bolstered with infantry cobbled together from the retreating troops, and they serve to stop Jackson’s onward rush. Rodes, and then Colston and Hill, all stop after 7:30, and darkness is falling. Jackson is eager to push on with a new attack by moonlight. He rides out with his staff ahead on the Plank Road to see the disposition of the enemy’s lines. As they turn back, troops from the 18th North Carolina infantry, logically thinking the horsemen to be Yankee cavalry, open fire on the riders, wounding Jackson three times, in the left arm, and wounding several other men. Jackson is down with his wound. Command of his corps falls to A.P. Hill who himself is also wounded in the next volley. J.E.B. Stuart is given command of Jackson’s troops, and Stuart begins to plan for the next day’s attacks.

Jackson loses his arm the next day to amputation, since the bone is shattered. He contracts pneumonia, however, and on May 10 dies from the fever.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, CSA

—The Washington Chronicle prints a story about a gentleman who applied personally to President Lincoln for a pass to travel to Richmond. "Well," said the President, "I would be very happy to oblige you, if my passes were respected; but the fact is, sir, I have, within the past two years given passes to 250,000 men to go to Richmond, and not one has got there yet."

—Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of the Royal Army, records his impressions of characters he meets on his journey through Texas, including Sam Houston:
In the cars I was introduced to General Samuel Houston, the founder of Texan independence. He told me he was born in Virginia seventy years ago, that he was United States senator at thirty, and governor of Tennessee at thirty-six. He emigrated into Texas in 1832; headed the revolt of Texas, and defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto in 1836. He then became President of the Republic of Texas, which he annexed to the United States in 1845. As Governor of the State in 1860, he had opposed the secession movement, and was deposed. Though evidently a remarkable and clever man, he is extremely egotistical and vain, and much disappointed at having to subside from his former grandeur. The town of Houston is named after him. In appearance he is a tall, handsome old man, much given to chewing tobacco, and blowing his nose with his fingers. 
I was also introduced to another "character," Captain Chubb, who told me he was a Yankee by birth, and served as coxswain to the United States ship Java in 1827. He was afterwards imprisoned at Boston on suspicion of being engaged in the slave trade; but he escaped. At the beginning of this war he was captured by the Yankees, when he was in command of the Confederate States steamer Royal Yacht, and taken to New York in chains, where he was condemned to be hung as a pirate; but he was eventually exchanged. I was afterwards told that the slave-trading escapade of which he was accused consisted in his having hired a coloured crew at Boston, and then coolly selling them at Galveston.

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