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Good For Kids
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the main visitor center and museum building
Chancellorsville Battlefield National Military Park
Closest available address
9001 Plank Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553
Park = dawn to dusk. Visitor center hours vary by season, usually 9-5.
Best time to visit
The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought in the spring of 1863, and is widely considered to be Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory of the Civil War. However, it came at the high price of significant causalities and the loss of Lee’s most capable officer Stonewall Jackson. The battlefield units are fairly spread out due to the wide range of fighting and so having a car is a good idea.
The battle resulted from Union General Joseph Hooker’s offensive against Lee from three directions. While his plan was sound and initial progress was good, Hooker opted to take defensive positions with his main forces. Also additional attacks to be launched by his subordinates were either delayed or poorly executed. Though outnumbered 2 to 1, Lee divided his forces and attacked Hooker’s exposed flank position. The attack was a success but led to Jackson’s mortal wounding. In the ensuing days of fighting, Lee was able to reconnect his forces and generally prevail in the fight until Hooker opted to retreat. Lee's victory here set the stage for his second invasion of the North and for the Battle of Gettysburg.
The visitor center includes a museum and movie and is a good place to start a visit. The auto-tour is informative and well-designed. Highlights include an optional dirt road at stop 6 that follows Jackson’s bold flanking attack and also artillery positions via a drive or walking trail at stops 9 and 10. Additional battlefield park units are located further east at Salem’s Church and Fredericksburg (which also was the location of a major battle in 1862.) Chancellorsville fighting often took place in thick woods and brush so visualizing the events is more difficult than at other battlefield parks. While Chancellorsville was one of the most important battles in the war, a visit here will primarily appeal to those interested in the Civil War and military history rather than a general audience.
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