Question of the Week: 5/3-5/9/21

In your opinion, what was THE decisive moment in the Chancellorsville Campaign?

14 Responses to Question of the Week: 5/3-5/9/21

  1. The moment when “Fighting Joe” Hooker ordered his men to withdraw back into the Wilderness and take a defensive position around Chancellorsville, daring Lee to attack him .

    Hooker lost confidence in himself, as he later told Abner Doubleday.

  2. I’d vote for the early morning of May 3, when Hooker eschews attack and pulls Sickles off Hazel Grove. That retreat does not end until the army is back against the river, but at that moment Hooker effectively cedes the final initiative, and to a good extent the battle, to Lee.

  3. Hooker pulling back and going into a defensive posture, rather than pressing on and keeping the initiative.

  4. The moment when Hooker cedes the initiative to Lee and retreats into the woods around Chancellorsville.

  5. I agree with Chris Kolakowski. Interestingly, some think that event had repercussions at GB lead Sickles to advance to the Sherfy Peach Orchard.

  6. Abandoning Hazel Grove was THE huge mistake in my most humble opinion. However, most of Hooker’s subordinates wanted to continue the campaign. Hooker ignoring them and throwing in the towel when he still held significant advantages in resources speaks for itself.

  7. The conversation betyween Lee and Jackson the night before the famous flank march

  8. When Hooker sent his cavalry away on a useless raid. He blinded himself and made it possible for Jackson to march past his flank. Had Hooker had a proper cavalry screen he would have known he was being flanked and could have destroyed Jackson. Instead he became convinced that the entire Southern Army was in retreat. That combined with having sent one third of his army off to defend Fredericksburg weakened him just enough for Lee and Jackson to smash his right flank.

  9. When Hooker withdraws to the north bank. Up to that point his casualty ratio in relation to Lee was better than that of Meade/Grant a year later. And Lee was actually setting up for what could have been an appalling offensive catastrophe on his part. But FJ Hooker became Fleeing Joe Hooker, for whatever reason.

  10. When Stonewall decided in the early evening May 2nd to conduct a personal recon forward of his front lines to gather information on how to press the attack at dawn…THE decisive moment for the entire Eastern Theater 1863-1865…

  11. Hooker’s decision to cede initiative to Lee proved to be something Hooker couldn’t rebound from. He still had a couple chances to win that battle after ceding the initiative, so he managed to lose the battle on several occasions, really, but the results of that first decision proved insurmountable.

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