From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

“fighting Joe” Hooker

What was that afternoon charge like?

Those who received it claimed it was like no other—that the Confederate attack at 6:15 achieved complete, stunning surprise. The Union right flank was not well anchored, and it did not have large numbers, but if it had even one hour’s warning, all might have been different. Instead, the first sign the Union men had was a group of deer leaping through the clearing, getting just ahead of the Confederates who chose that moment to deliver a full-throated rebel yell.

What followed was nothing short of pandemonium. Several federal units made brave stands, but were quickly swept aside. Other groups, even whole regiments, practically disappeared as men took to their heels. Nothing previous in the War in the East—neither the Battles of Bull Run nor the Seven Days’ Battles—witnessed any collapse as complete as that of the Union on May 3, 1863.


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