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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Chancellor in Spotsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

First Day at Chancellorsville

The Union Attack

 
 
First Day at Chancellorsville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
1. First Day at Chancellorsville Marker
Inscription. "The advance was irresistible... in a few minutes the brigade occupied the crest of the hill."
-Union brigade commander Col. Sidney Burbank

You now stand at the farthest point of the Union infantry advance on May 1. From here, Federal troops poured a murderous fire into the disorganized Confederate line. But the Southerners, under Gen. William Mahone, soon regrouped for battle on the ridge in front of you. One Union officer recalled that his men advanced "steadily and with a will, although exposed to a sharp fire from musketry and artillery."

Confederate fire halted the Union attack. The Federals fell back to the Lewis house behind you and held off the enemy from behind the ridge. For Union troops, however, the battle soon took an unfortunate turn.
 
Erected 2008 by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 17.706′ N, 77° 35.425′ W. Marker is near Chancellor, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is on Plank Road / Germanna Highway (State Highway 3), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located along the Civil War Preservation Trust's walking trail through the
Help Preserve Chancellorsville image. Click for more information.
2. Help Preserve Chancellorsville
CWPT efforts to save the battlefield.
Click for more information.
First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22407, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (about 800 feet away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.2 miles away); Chancellorsville Campaign (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Chancellor.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left is a portrait of Gen. Mahone, who coordinated much of the Confederate attack against the advancing Federals in this part of the battlefield. This was familiar ground to Mahone, who had been a civil engineer before the war and worked on the Orange Turnpike.

In the center is an Alfred Waud drawing showing, Union
Battle Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
3. Battle Map
Note the north seeking arrow points to the left of the map.
artillery unlimbered directly on the Orange Turnpike. Confederate artillerists also worked their guns farther east on the Pike, and both sides blasted away at close range. One Confederate officer recalled: "The air is filled with shrieking bullets and screaming shells, and the volumes of smoke make midnight of midday."


On the right is a map showing the movements of this phase of the battle: Hooker hoped to advance eastward and gain the clear, high ground east of Zoan Church (far right). Lee's westward movement, however, stopped Hooker's advance and forced him to fight in the Wilderness.
 
Also see . . .
1. First Day at Chancellorsville. An animated map of the first day's battle from Civil War Preservation Trust. Also links to several excellent resources about the battle. The action described on this marker is roughly occurring at the 1:30 p.m. mark on the animation's time line. (Submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Battle of Chancellorsville. National Park Service page about the battle. (Submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
<i>The Union Attack</i> Wayside image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
4. The Union Attack Wayside
Semmes' and Kershaw's Brigades image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
5. Semmes' and Kershaw's Brigades
Looking from the marker location at the south side of the Orange Turnpike. General Paul J. Semmes' and General Joseph Kershaw's Brigades defended on the south side of the Pike, resisting the advance of Col. Sideny Burbank's Brigade of Sykes Division. Semmes' Brigade included the 10th, 50th, 51st, and 53rd Georgia Infantry. Kershaw's included the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th and 15th South Carolina Infantry Regiments along with the 3rd S.C. Infantry Battalion.
Mahone's Brigade image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
6. Mahone's Brigade
Looking past the marker's location (seen in the center here) down the trail. Mahone's Brigade regrouped on the far side of the ridge spur, behind the modern barn seen here. Mahone's Brigade consisted of the 6th, 12th, 16th, 41st, and 61st Virginia Infantry Regiments. Federals of Burbank's Brigade advanced down the sloping ground here, to attack the ridge spur in the background.
Federal Advance image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
7. Federal Advance
Looking west from the high ground near the marker location. The Col. Sideny Burbank's Brigade was at the fore of the attack. Burbank's men were U.S. Regulars: the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 17th U.S. Infantry. Their line was roughly straddling what is today the walking trail, but with elements both north and south of the Pike (seen to the left). Behind and to the right of Burbank was the brigade of Col. Patrick O'Rourke, the 5th, 140th, and 146th New York Infantry. To the left (north) of Burbank was another Brigade of U.S. Regulars under General Romeyn Ayres - the 3rd, 4th, 12th and 14th U.S. Infantry.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,121 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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