Friday, 8 June 2012

The Battle of Chancellorsville ~ Turns 6-11

Click to zoom in

3:30pm – General Lee arrives! A field headquarters is set up and couriers bring news of the enemy dispositions. I have to say I didn't display the audacity and courage of the great man himself at this point – the Confederates should have launched an all out assault while they had local superiority and an artillery advantage. I remained strangely paralysed, worrying irrationally about the following day, and what to do with Jackson !

Looking south down McLaws position as the artillery comes up  

 Looking west towards Couch

McLaws remains drawn up at the McGee House in front of Couch's II Corps line – artillery deployed and engaged, Anderson moving to support the left flank, the upper hand gained on the skirmish line – but still no aggressive orders from Lee !

Gordon's Brigade at the Alrich House

On the skirmish line

Overview of Slocum's position opposite Early

Early and Slocum are now fully deployed and two very large skirmish lines clash for most of the afternoon in the clearing west of the Alrich House. 

The brigades of Paxton and Jones  head the flanking movement
Lee finally rouses himself and orders Early's second Division under Colston to ' find Slocum's southern flank and turn it . . . '  The Division approaches the Union forces in the woods who must pass command tests to react defensively and refuse their flank.

Our first 'grand battery' - and it's a rebel one ! 
Lee also instructs Pendleton to take his newly arrived artillery reserve and deploy a grand battery in the centre of Early's line. Pendleton has already established  his wagon park and  begun distributing ammunition. Due to clogged roads, Hooker's guns are not likely to see any ammo wagons this side of nightfall, giving the Rebs a big advantage! The new 'grand battery' rules mean that Pendleton's rifled guns are having a morale effect as well as causing a lot of casualties.

Hooker's HQ

 Birney's Division in reserve

XI Corps on the march
Meanwhile, Hooker establishes his headquarters at Chancellorsville, while just to the south the huge Union column on the Orange Plank Road reaches the Fairview clearing. Birney's division of Sickles Corps adopts the block formation that we use to indicate 'reserve' status. A mile or so behind them, the 'dutchmen' of Howards infamous XI Corps reach Dowdall's Tavern on their journey towards destiny !

Pleasonton vs Stuart

…. and what about that cavalry action way down by the Carpenter House ? Pleasonton rallies and reforms a mile up the road, and both sides dismount and engage briefly. Getting the worst of the firefight and lacking ammunition for his horse guns, Stuart reluctantly backs off – much to Ian's relief I think !


All in all a very cautious session again - more manoeuvring and not a single infantry volley yet fired by either side! But there are only two turns remaining before nightfall. Tomorrow will certainly see mayhem on an epic scale . . . and of course Jackson's Corps, already committed by Lee to some form of flank attack, will finally make an appearance!


  1. This is a fantastic write up, and yet again some stunning photos which together really evoke the spirit of the battle. I love the extended skirmish lines and long artillery train moving down the road.

    Keep it up chaps, I'm looking forward to Jacksons attack, best tell Ian to sleep with his boots on :-)


    1. Hi Lee - the photos are mine (with sky added by Dave!) and the write up is Dave's. So far Lee has proven to be quite timid and has squandered the chance to attack with superior numbers. I will however sleep with my boots on although I recommend that Jackson puts on a high visibility vest!