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CHANCELLORSVILLE

Jackson's Flank Road
Part of Jackson's Flanking Road - 1998





  The Chancellorsville visitor's center is an easy 10 mile drive on State Route 3 west from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Route 3 is the "Orange Turnpike" of Civil War Times. The other main road involved in the battle, the "Orange Plank Road" also still exists. Both can easily be located by comparing a current road map with the Chancellorsville Battlefield maps.

Chancellorsville is a great battlefield park. But---we would say, more than any other battlefield---you have to know and understand the battle in order to get the full impact from a visit. It was here that Stonewall Jackson won his greatest battle and received the wounds that cost him his life.
(On either I-95 or U.S. 1 between Fredericksburg and Richmond you will see signs directing you to Jackson's Shrine. This is the house in which he died shortly after Chancellorsville).

Using a good map and having knowledge of the battlefield you can locate,on your own, many interesting locations. For example, you can find the foundation outline of the Chancellor house, which was destroyed by Rebel cannon fire during the battle. It is located just east of the Visitor's Center on Route 3. You can also go back into the country and be amazed at the small size of the the Rapidan River behind which the Union Army retreated after the battle. Finally, you can see the monument (behind the visitor's center) marking the "spot" where Stonewall Jackson was shot by his own men. We quote "spot" because, recently Park Historian Robert K. Krick determined that Jackson was wounded just a few yards from the eastern end of the Chancellorsville Visitor Center. A trail is being constructed to that location.

But the part of the park that most interests me, is the route that Jackson took (12 miles) in order to flank the Union forces. Most of that route is owned by the Park Service with the exception of a couple miles at the end (which follows current highways). It has been maintained in order to appear as it did during the battle. As you drive or walk over the dirt road, all of the 1862 sights, from the furnace, to the little stream that the thousands of Confederate soldiers marched through, are still there, for you to see, just as Jackson's soldiers saw them.

Some say that even though there was a great victory at Chancellorsville, the loss of Jackson cost the Confederacy the war. A good case can be made that they are right. Jackson would never have let Lee fight Gettsyburg the way it was fought. Indeed, had Jackson been with Lee, Culp's hill would have been occupied by the Confederates the second day of the Gettysburg battle, negating the need for Pickett's charge on the third.

Anyhow, if you really want to feel one of the great battles of the Civil War, you should visit Chancellorsville. But you must study the battle first.

By the way, this battlefield is intermingled with the Wilderness Battlefield (1864) where Lee fought Grant. But that's another story.
 



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