On the morning of Friday, May 1, 1863, Union Major General Joseph Hooker had the Confederate Army of Northern
Virginia exactly in the position he had hoped. The soldiers under Major General John Sedgwick, including his own 6th Corps, threatened
Lee's entrenched Fredericksburg lines. As Sedgwick's men held the Butternuts in place, or so the plan went, Hooker's 70,000 man
detachment had successfully swung north around Lee's left flank and closed in to catch the Southern Army between his two wings. The
night before, the men of Union Major General George Sykes Division of Major General George Gordon Meade's 5th Corps camped within the
distant wood line in the picture above, just south of present day Route 3 a short distance east from the ruins of the Chancellor House.
morning came, Sykes' Division continued their advance towards Lee, colliding with southern troops about two miles to the east near the
Zoan Church. Falling back to the ridge pictured to your right (the same ridge on which you would be standing if in the picture above
looking towards the distant tree line) the men of the 5th Corps prepared to defend their ground.
However, General Hooker feared that, although he had more men total than Lee, General Sykes' lone advanced Division may be outnumbered
at the point of attack by Stonewall Jackson's entire Corps. Meade's other two Divisions and the men of Major General Henry Slocum's 12th
Corps, also participating in the advance, found themselves outside of immediate supporting distance of Sykes. With Jackson moving
aggressively westward, Hooker could only assume that General Sedgwick had not been successful in holding him in his Fredericksburg
lines. [Q] Much to the chagrin of General Meade, General Hooker
ordered all advanced Federal forces to fall back to the ground around the Chancellor home a mile to the west. General Meade, famous for
his quick, hot temper, angrily snorting words akin to, "If he can't hold the top of the hill, how does he expect to hold the bottom
fighting over this ground did not find the scenic, rolling fields in the vista presented above. Instead, a dense, young forest thrived
on these hills during the time of the battle. Locals had logged these lands to provide fuel for the iron works nearby. The younger
growth which took the place of the felled trees made this ground extremely difficult to navigate.
Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws' small force would hold this ground for the next few days. His aggressive sparing with the
Federals in his front would sufficiently distract the Union commander to allow Lt. General Thomas Jackson to execute an audacious flank
attack against the Federal left on May 2. The following day, McLaws and his greatly outnumbered men would participate in the offensive
that would drive General Hooker back from his Chancellorsville headquarters.