The namesake of the USS Chancellorsville is
the Battle of Chancellorsville, fought from 1-4 May 1863, between the Federal
Army of the Potomac, General Joseph Hooker commanding, and the Confederate Army
of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee commanding. Both armies had
wintered around Fredericksburg, Virginia, after the disastrous federal defeat
near the town in December 1862. Frontal assault having failed under General
Ambrose E. Burnside, Gen. Hooker would try a flank maneuver. He would lead a
sizeable portion of his 130,000 man army up the north side of the Rappahannock
River to cross behind General Lee and jeopardize the positions of the
Southerners near Fredericksburg.
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
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
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) is 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.
Chancellorsville is forward-deployed to
Yokosuka, Japan, and assigned to Carrier Strike Group Five supporting security
and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.