Chancellorsville 

Today it was time to head south and in due course I crossed the Rappahannock bound for The Chancellorsville Battlefield. Chancellorsville is, I feel, a fascinating battle yet one I’ve not tried to recreate on the wargames table. Why, well I’ve always been nervous that historically the Union player would always feel hard done by with Jackson turning up on his flank. That said I’ve pondered running it as a hidden scenario. In some ways however the the card scenario system included in the Volley & Bayonet rules could produce part of the surprise.

Anyway, my tour started at the visitor centre and the suggested tour route means the battle is not done in order. A necessity really given the Orange Turnpike is a major highway. My photos will not follow the course of the tour, but rather the battle, give or take some variation.

Let’s start with some entrenchment so near along Anderson’s line. Anderson & McLaw having stayed under direct command of Lee whil Jackson undertook his flank march. There are actually several locations where entrenchment so are visible. All are showing 150 years of erosion, yet remain interesting. You can see as the war develops the increasing importance placed on entrenchments.

I decided to embark on my own flank march and retraced the route that Jackson Corps took. Below, the Lee – Jackson bivouac point where the Lee determined to set the march in progress.

Next stop was the Catherine Furnace ruins where Jackson headed southwest and Georgian troops fought a covering action. The furnace was an iron forge, prior to the war deemed uneconomic it was bought back into production by the South.

The road today is apparently wider than it was in 1863 and kept unsealed to give it historic feel. I must say it was very thought provoking following this road trodden by 30,000 men and by 100 cannon and wagons. It stretched for several miles, eight if I recall the signs, with men marching four abreast.

Arriving late in the day on the Union left Jackson deployed his troops and attacked. The centre of his line was generally in the vicinity of this point, on the west of the park and just off the Orange Turnpike. Each side of this point Cenfederates stretched north and south for a mile. Coming out of the woods, behind me, the Confederates advanced east rolling up Howard’s Corps.

Moving east again we find ourselves in the area of the visitor centre which was the location of Jackson’ wounding by friendly fire, and this monument that marks the event as well as his evacuation.

Continuing slightly further east we come to the Chancellor House site, or the remains of the foundations. Joe Hooker was knocked over here by debris, but recovered sufficiently to continue commanding. It was and still is a busy crossroad.

Across the road and only faintly visible in the photo is the brick walls of a cemetery and Fairview. Which  also marks the Fairview Union gun line. I found this particularly interesting. Why you ask?

Because a number of Union gun pits were facing southeast. The remains of which can be discerned in the centre of the photo above. Clearly Howard was not alone in being surprised by Jackson’s attack from the west.

Now a couple of photos from the Confederate clearing at Hazel Grove looking down to the Union gun line at Fairview.

Described as one of the finest Confederate artillery success more than 30 Confederate guns were deployed here to bombard, successfully, the Union gun line at Fairview. Simultaneously the woods to each side where the scene of much desperate fighting.

Hazel Grove is about half the size as it was in 1863, likewise the corridor between it at Fairview is narrower. Even if Hazel Grove was twice the size in 1863 the artillery here must have been very restricted.

Well that brings a brief post on Chancellorsville to conclusion. I had heard that Chancellorsville was not the best of battlefields to visit. While it is very different to those I’ve visited so far, I found it extremely interesting.

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