7 Things You May Not Know About the Battle of Chancellorsville

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6. Hooker became the latest in a long line of short-lived Union commanders.

By May 7, the last of Hooker’s men, including Stoneman’s cavalry, had withdrawn from Chancellorsville. Almost immediately, fingers began pointing at who should take responsibility for the disastrous defeat. Hooker, like Burnside before him, cast much of the blame on his junior officers, and relieved Stoneman from his command. Several other officers quit in anger or were reassigned, leading to dissension in the Union ranks. To make matter worse, Hooker continued to clash with Lincoln and the army’s general in chief, Henry Halleck. With Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia now moving in on Northern territory, Lincoln was forced to make yet another leadership change. On June 28, just three days before the Battle of Gettysburg began, he accepted Hooker’s resignation and named Major General George Meade to lead the Army of the Potomac. Hooker became the fourth Union general to be relieved from command after losing just one major battle, while Meade, who had performed admirably at both Antietam and Fredericksburg, became the third man to command the army in 1863 alone.

7. “The Red Badge of Courage” is based on Chancellorsville.

Though its author, Stephen Crane, was born nearly six years after the war’s end and did not serve in battle, his novel is widely considered to be one of the most realistic portrayals of the Civil War. The book, which depicts the traumatic wartime experience of an 18-year-old Union private named Henry Fleming, was initially serialized in dozens of periodicals in 1894 and published as a novel the following year. Crane, who was only 24 when the book came out, based the battle scenes and troop movements on those at Chancellorsville, and is believed to have interviewed veterans of the campaign: the men of the 124th New York Volunteer Regiment, a group popularly known as the Orange Blossoms. The book met with mostly positive reviews, but did have its detractors, including former Union officers Alexander McClurg and Ambrose Bierce. Nonetheless, “The Red Badge of Courage” made Crane an overnight sensation; it has remained in print ever since and been adapted for the screen several times. Just a few years later, Crane witnessed the horrors of battle firsthand, serving as a war correspondent during the Spanish-American War and elsewhere. After suffering a series of personal and financial setbacks, he died of tuberculosis at the age of 28.

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