On May 1st the Battle flared into action west of Fredericksburg as General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson attacked toward Chancellorsville on two separate roads. Gen. Hooker committed the fatal blunder of retreating under Gen. Jackson's pressure, thus losing the initiative and giving his opponents the chance to attack his weak spots. Early the next morning in a bold move to cut around the Union Army, general Jackson marched west with nearly 30,000 men, leaving General Lee with only 15,000 men to face General Hooker's main threat. By late afternoon Gen. Jackson had his entire force behind Gen. Hooker's army, and he was able to launch an overwhelming surprise attack which caved in the federal line for 2.5 miles.
When confusion and darkness finally brought the attack to a halt, General Jackson rode out in front of his lines to find a means of renewing the offensive and destroying Gen. Hooker's army. With total success at hand, tragic circumstances intervened. As the General rode back towards his own men, some of them fired a blind volley which badly wounded him. He died a week later at Guiney Station, Virginia, as a result of his wounds and the pneumonia which subsequently developed. The loss of Gen. Jackson dealt a crushing and irreparable blow to the military fortunes of the Confederacy.
Very early on the morning of May 3rd, Southern troops charged against the fortified federal lines one mile west of Chancellorsville. Confederate forces captured the key to the battle at the outset, when they occupied the high clearing known as Hazel grove. The Federals abandoned this vital position with hardly a struggle. After several hours of violent and costly fighting in the woods, Confederate infantry joined hands with their comrades to the east and drove Gen. Hooker back to a new position a mile north of Chancellorsville.
Meanwhile the Union troops back at Fredericksburg, under Gen. John Sedgwick, had pushed through the thin confederate lines entrenched there. Gen. Lee was compelled to halt this victorious army near Chancellorsville and send substantial reinforcements east towards Fredericksburg. After extensive fighting near the Salem church on May 3rd and 4th, Gen. Sedgwick was thrown back across the Rappahannock River at Bank's Ford.
During the night of may 4th-5th, as Gen. Sedgwick was hastily crossing the river, Gen. Hooker, safe in a snug retreat north of Chancellorsville called a meeting of his corps commanders. In a feeble explanation of his actions, Gen. Hooker told them his main responsibility was to protect Washington, and therefore he had no right to jeopardize the army. He then wanted to know if the corps commanders would vote to stay and fight or retreat across the river. Although a majority voted to stay and fight, Gen. Hooker took it upon himself the responsibility of withdrawing the army to the other side of the river.
Gen. Lee's great victory had one very strong noteworthy effect: it removed any lingering objection on the part of the Richmond administration to his proposed invasion of Pennsylvania. Thus the battle of Chancellorsville led directly to Gettysburg, the turning point of the War
Current USS Chancellorsville
USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), the 16th Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser. USS Chancellorsville's primary mission is to operate with aircraft carrier battle groups or as part of surface action groups in extreme threat environments well into the 21st century. The purpose of the ship is to detect, classify and track hundreds of potential targets simultaneously in the air, on the surface, and under the sea. It can destroy targets using a variety of weapons: ship and helicopter launched torpedoes, deck guns, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, rapid-fire close-in weapons, and electronic jammers and decoys. USS Chancellorsville’s original home port was San Diego, California.
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) was commissioned at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss, on November 4, 1989. Chancellorsville was commissioned on 4 November 1989 and her first deployment was March 1991 to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm.
Chancellorsville next deployed from February to August of 1993, to the Arabian Gulf as part of the Nimitz Battle Group. On June 26, 1993, Chancellorsville launched strikes on the Iraqi Intelligence Center in Baghdad with nine Tomahawk missiles in retaliation for the aborted assassination attempt on former President Bush. She deployed again to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf from April to October of 1995.
Chancellorsville deployed to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific in support of joint counter-narcotics operations in November 1997. During this deployment, she rescued the crew of an Ecuadorian fishing vessel which had been adrift for 10 days. Upon her return home, Chancellorsville underwent her first major nine-month overhaul in San Diego, CA.
On July 7, 1998, Chancellorsville changed home port from San Diego, CA, to Yokosuka, Japan, joining Battle Force Seventh Fleet as part of the U.S. Forward Deployed Naval Force. After arriving in Yokosuka, Chancellorsville participated in multinational operations in the Sea of Japan, including the International Fleet Review. Chancellorsville took part in exercises with the Kitty Hawk Battle Group in the spring of 1999.
On April 6, 1999, the Chancellorsville deployed to the Arabian Gulf in company with USS Kitty Hawk and USS Curtis Wilbur in support of Operation Southern Watch, and returned to Yokosuka on January 5, 2000. In May of 2000 Chancellorsville participated in exercises with the Thai and Singaporean navies.
Following a visit to Qinqdao, China, in August 2000, Chancellorsville took part in ANNUALEX 12G, a joint U.S.-Japanese naval exercise. In November Chancellorsville fired guns and SM-2 missiles as part of MISSILEX 01-1. In March through June 2001, she visited Singapore, Thailand, Saipan and Sydney, Australia, as part of an extended Spring Cruise. Chancellorsville then entered dry dock for an upkeep period in the fall.
In September of 2001, Chancellorsville deployed with the Kitty Hawk Battle Group in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, operating in the theater for several months.
Chancellorsville paid her first visit to Vladivostok, Russia, in July of 2002, celebrating Independence Day in Russia along with USS Fort McHenry.
On October 22, 2003, Chancellorsville played host in Guam to two warships of the People's Republic China, which made the first-ever visit of the Chinese navy to Guam. By May of 2004, she was back in the Southwest Asian region, where she lent aid to a disabled Indonesian fishing boat.
On July 19, 2004, Chancellorsville departed Yokosuka to participate in the Summer Pulse 2004 and training Exercise Joint Air and Sea Exercises (JASEX) '04, with the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Summer Pulse 04 was the Navy’s first implementation of the new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). She returned to homeport September 7th.
Following the maintenance period, Chancellorsville participated in the exercises Talisman Saber 2005, the third annual Orange Crush and the Joint Air and Sea Exercise (JASEX) 2005. She returned to Yokosuka in August. ANNUALEX 2005 commenced in November with Chancellorsville participating, along with other U.S. and Japanese assets. The exercise saw a total of 61 naval vessels, including two U.S. submarines, 10 U.S. Navy ships and 49 Japanese ships. Chancellorsville visited Hong Kong at the end of November and returned to Yokosuka December 12.
In winter of 2006 Chancellorsville deployed again into the Western Pacific, visiting Singapore and Pattaya, Thailand, in February. In April, she joined forces of the Republic of Korea for Reception, Staging, Onward-movement, & Integration and Foal Eagle 2006 (RSOI/Foal Eagle 06), exercises utilizing more than 70 U.S. and Korean ships.
Chancellorsville returned to Yokosuka in August in preparation for a hull swap with USS Shiloh (CG 67). Chancellorsville returned to San Diego in October 2006, making it her homeport once again.
November 4th, 2009 marked the 20th Anniversary of the commissioning of USS Chancellorsville.