May 1-3, 1863 - Fredericksburg Area Battlefields

In the city of Fredericksburg and surrounding Spotsylvania County, Central Virginia, the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park is home to the battle sites of four important American Civil War battles: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House.


At over 8,000 acres, it’s the second-largest military park in the world.

The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park features many fascinating historical sites and the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center. This museum focuses exclusively on the Battle of Chancellorsville.

The Battle of Chancellorville

One of the most famous battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville is known as one of General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victories. Jackson’s famous Flank Attack is still studied around the world today.

Following the humiliating defeat at Fredericksburg, President Abraham Lincoln tried revitalizing the East’s stumbling war efforts. He named General Joseph Hooker to command the Army of the Potomac, the 5th Union General to face the Confederates.

With General Lee still in Fredericksburg and General Hooker across the river, he proposed a bold plan after he managed to get his army into shape. General Hooker placed a large force in front of Fredericksburg as a feint while he led the other portion around General Lee’s left and rear, hoping to catch the enemy by surprise.

Confidently, General Hooker would say, “My plans are perfect, may God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none!

On May 1, 1863, General Hooker’s plan was unraveled by General Lee’s initiative and quick thinking. General Lee divided his force and directed his Army on a head-on collision course against an enemy twice his size.

This drove General Hooker back to the Chancellorsville Crossroads in a defensive position at a forested region of Spotsylvania County known as the Wilderness.

That night, General Lee would hatch his career’s most brilliant offensive plan.

On May 2, 1863, he split his army yet again and sent Stonewall Jackson’s Corps on an all-day flank attack march – this meant he would be able to get at General Hooker’s flank and rear. The move culminated in Jackson’s Flank Attack and was wildly successful. However, it would be Jackson’s last victory as he was mortally wounded by friendly fire as he tried to continue the fighting into the night.

May 3, 1863, would be the bloodiest morning of the Civil War. Still reeling, dawn found General Hooker fighting off Confederate attacks from both sides. One of the most dramatic artillery duels of the war would ensue. On this day, one casualty would fall each second for the next five hours as both sides slugged it out in a point-blank match.

Despite heavy losses on both sides, General Lee would emerge victorious. Dividing his force in the face of a superior enemy, along with seizing the initiative with bold and audacious moves would pay off by many folds. This victory encouraged General Lee to invade the North a second time in June 1863, leading to the Gettysburg Campaign.


Notable Places of Interest at Chancellorsville Battle Site

  • The Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center – Features exhibits on the battle of Chancellorsville and the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, including artifacts, alongside other items from the Civil War era.
  • Chancellorsville: Film – A high-quality film located at the visitor center gives an excellent insight into how the battle would have been experienced.
  • Chancellorsville: Museum Shop – The gift shop is located in the visitor center; Civil War books, collectibles, and clothing items can be purchased.
  • Hazel Grove Artillery Display – Various types of Civil War artillery, along with their limber chests, can be found here.
  • Spotsylvania County Museum – Located on the Chancellorsville Day 1 site preserved by the American Battlefield Trust. This county visitor center gives a rich background of the surrounding county area.
  • Stonewall Jackson Monument – Stone monument near Jackson’s wounding location commemorates his life and legacy.

Ready to explore the battlefield for yourself? Browse our full selection of American Civil War Battlefield Tours.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our tours or services.

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June 3, 2023

160th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Campaign Opening Special Event

4 Hours
Join us for a special event commemorating the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg campaign, with two historians and authors.
Brandy Station

Battle of Brandy Station Guided Battlefield Tour

4 Hours
Hear about the opening battle of the Gettysburg Campaign which will result in the largest cavalry battle in North America.

Battle of Chancellorsville

4 Hours
One of Robert E. Lee’s greatest victories. Hear about Stonewall Jackson’s Flank Attack & the bloodiest morning in the Civil War.