2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Chancellorsville - Friday, May 1, 1863
Lee & Jackson's Cracker Barrel Conference

Chancellorsville Cracker Barrel Conference
On May 1st, 1863, Major General Joseph Hooker was poised to pinch Lee's smaller Army between his divided forces. Men in blue that had swung north and behind the Army of Northern Virginia had marched east along the Orange Plank Road towards Fredericksburg. However, after encountering feisty Confederate troops, General Hooker ordered his men to fall back into defensive positions, surrendering the initiative he and his men had worked so hard to gain. [C]

That evening, seated on ration boxes that would give this meeting the name "The Cracker Barrel Conference", Generals Lee and Jackson discussed their strategy for the coming day. With General James Longstreet's 1st Corp further south and not available for support, General Lee would go into battle with diminished numbers. Learning from Cavalry Commander JEB Stuart that the Union right was "up in the air", unprotected from attack due to not resting on a natural barrier like a hill, ridge, or body of water, the Southerners only needed to find a path to move their men to the vulnerable Federal right without being seen. They would swing around the Federals as the men in blue had swung around them. As General Lee would later report,

"It was evident that a direct attack upon the enemy would be attended with great difficulty and loss, in view of the strength of his position and his superiority of numbers. It was, therefore, resolved to endeavor to turn his right flank and gain his rear, leaving a force in front to hold him in check and conceal the movement. The execution of this plan was intrusted to Lieutenant-General Jackson with his three divisions. The commands of Generals McLaws and Anderson, with the exception of Wilcox's brigade, which during the night had been ordered back to Banks' Ford, remained in front of the enemy." [9]

Chancellorsville Orange Plank Road Intersection

Immediately above is an old photograph of the intersection of the Furnace and Orange Plank Roads, the site of Lee and Jackson's Cracker Barrel Conference, their last formal meeting before Jackson's death nine days later. The image at the top of this page shows how the site appears today. Click here to view a painting of this meeting.