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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

Pivot Point of a Campaign

 
 
First Day at Chancellorsville Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
1. First Day at Chancellorsville Marker
Inscription. "The battle of Chancellorsville was lost right there."
- Union Staff Officer.

Here, in a few hours on the afternoon of May 1, 1863, the Chancellorsville Campaign took a dramatic turn. Just a day earlier, Union Gen. Joseph Hooker had congratulated his army on a successful campaign. As Hooker's army stood on Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's left flank, he boasted, "Our enemy must either ingloriously fly or ... give us battle on our own ground, where certain destruction awaits him."

On May 1, the head of Hooker's column under Gen. George Sykes ran into Lee's Confederates on the ground just in front of you. The Union troops formed in line of battle, and for three hours the fighting raged here. More than 500 men fell.

The impact of the fighting far exceeded its scale - it convinced Hooker to abandon his advance and fall back to the Chancellorsville intersection. Lee took the high ground east of Chancellorsville and, in the three days that followed, inflicted a punishing defeat on the Union army. Having seized the initiative, Lee then embarked upon his second invasion of the North - an invasion that would end at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
 
Erected 2008 by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in
Help Preserve Chancellorsville image. Click for more information.
2. Help Preserve Chancellorsville
CWPT efforts to save the battlefield.
Click for more information.
the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 17.772′ N, 77° 35.785′ W. Marker is near Chancellor, Virginia, in Spotsylvania County. Marker is on Plank Road (State Highway 3), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located on a 140 acres tract preserved by Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6161 Plank Road, Fredericksburg VA 22407, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Chancellorsville Campaign ( here, next to this marker); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville ( approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville ( approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville ( approx. 0.2 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. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville ( approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named First Day at Chancellorsville ( approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chancellor.
 
More about this marker. In the center of the marker is a drawing of a scene from
Campaign Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
3. Campaign Map
the early stages of the campaign: The "Victorious Advance of Gen. Sykes" on May 1, 1863, was drawn by Union artist Alfred Waud. The Union advance was not "victorious" for long.

To the right is a map showing the action described in the text, Three Union columns left Chancellorsville on three separate roads and met significant resistance only here. It was enough to convince Hooker to abandon the advance.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The CWPT First Day of Chancellorsville Battlefield Tour by Markers
 
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. (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.) 

3. Older First Day Marker. A slightly different Civil War Trails marker stood at this location previously. (Submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
First Day of Chancellorsville Trail Head image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
4. First Day of Chancellorsville Trail Head
Three Civil War Trails markers stand at the trail head for the First Day of Chancellorsville Battlefield site. On the left is an informational marker detailing the efforts of Civil War Preservation Trust. In the center is the First Day at Chancellorsville - Pivot Point of a Campaign marker. And on the right is the Chancellorsville Campaign - Hooker vs. Lee marker.
The Orange Turnpike image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
5. The Orange Turnpike
Looking east on Virginia 3, what is today called both the "Plank Road" and Germanna Highway. The Confederate columns advanced from the east down this road (toward the camera). Meanwhile the center Federal column under General Sykes advanced west (from behind the camera). When these two forces collided on May 1, 1863, the high ground in the distance became important terrain.
First Day Walking Trail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
6. First Day Walking Trail
A few steps from the Trail Head markers is this informational marker for the walking trail.
Walking Trail Map image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
7. Walking Trail Map
Double click the photograph to see more details of the map.
First Day at Chancellorsville<br>The Walking Trails image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, August 24, 2008
8. First Day at Chancellorsville
The Walking Trails
Welcome to the Civil War Preservation Trust's First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. From this spot, a series of interconnected trails allows you to tour the battlefield of May 1, 1863. Wayside exhibits provide orientation and information along the way. The complete trail, forming a loop, is about two miles in length, but you may opt to take one of the shorter loops. Allow at least 90 minutes if you plan to walk the entire trail.

Please remain on marked trails throughout your visit and watch for ticks and other wildlife. There are no restrooms or drinking facilities along the trail.

We hope you enjoy your time at the First Day at Chancellorsville. For more information about this and other sites saved by CWPT, please visit www.civilwar.org.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,511 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on March 13, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on September 13, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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