Battle of Chancellorsville 150th Anniversary


PG is a big US Civil War buff, and last weekend I found myself in Chancellorsville watching thousands of amateur actors reenacting the battle of Chancellorsville to mark its 150th anniversary.

To give a brief background on the US Civil War for those not from the US and not aware of its history, the Civil War was a four-year war between the United States (the Union) and several Southern slave states (Confederates) on the issue of slavery between 1861 and 1865. In very simplistic terms, the Southern states fought to preserve slavery, even if it meant seceding from the Union, while the North fought to prevent the disintegration of the Union and eventually to abolish slavery. The North won, the Confederacy collapsed, and the war took a toll on much of the Southern infrastructure. Of course, African-Americans were not integrated seamlessly into society until as recently as the 1960s following the Civil Rights Movement. Even then, race relations in the US are tortured, and much of the South is still under illusions of what slavery meant.

The battle of Chancellorsville was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863 in Spotsylvania county in Virginia between 133,000 Union soldiers and some 60,000 Confederate soldiers. Even with fewer men, the battle resulted in a victory for the Confederates. Andrew “Stonewall” Jackson led the troops under General Robert Lee on the Confederates side. He was wounded in a friendly fire when he rode out at night to determine the feasibility of a night attack on the Union troops. However, his troops confusing him with the enemy, opened fire. Jackson’s left arm was wounded and had to be amputated. He died about a week later. General Lee is supposed to have famously said, “He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right arm.”

Pitched tents

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