Chancellorsville 150: Some of day three, where I’d go for day four

The third day of the Chancellorsville 150 observances began early.  I was joined by fellow blogger Robert Moore.  He read my mind, as the morning air held that same feel as experienced last September at Antietam.  A pure moment from the sesquicentennial.

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The sesquicentennial crowd did not shy from the early hour.  The count was several hundred.

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The morning tour incorporated a Confederate skirmish line demonstration, working through the woods.  Here’s my rough video work:

You can hear them (and the traffic on the highway), but don’t see much but flashes and smoke.  We often read about such settings, but the portrayal was in front of us on May 3, 2013.

But when the cannons roared….

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We were all out in the clear!  Notice the orange line just below the muzzle.  Those are embers ejected from the muzzle by the blast.  Better view from the NPS Facebook feed.  The embers left behind a “scorch” on the ground.

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Imagine dozens of guns firing hundreds of times.

The morning tour continued to Fairview.  Here’s the “snaking column” up the trail.

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After that tour concluded we proceeded across the highway to tour the north side of the May 3 battlefield.  Tour group grew considerably.

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This tour traversed ground ill-suited for a group our size.  But the rangers made do, and held our interest.  One focus of the tour were the numerous standing earthwork traces.

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150 years earlier soldiers clung to pieces of ground like this in a desperate struggle.  You don’t walk past these lightly.  YOU DON’T walk on them at all!

The tour emerged into the clearing near Chancellor House.

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This is about a third of the group.  I was told “400” counting a group of fifty that joined late.  Later I was told 328.  You pick a number for the headcount.  Maybe both.

The afternoon tours moved to Fredericksburg.  There Eric Mink took my half of the group back through the streets of Fredericksburg.  We often compared the advance of May 3, 1863 to that of December 13, 1862.

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This time “The Yankees Win” was the repose.

The events of the day concluded at Salem Church, with a presentation on the church history and the action which took place there, to the hour, on May 3, 1863.

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I’m unable to attend events today.  My Aide-de-Camp and Chief of Staff have informed me so many matters require my attention at headquarters.  However, if I could be there and could suggest a point to visit, it would be this one:

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This is one of the extant earthwork traces along Hooker Drive, in a oft overlooked portion of the battlefield.

Why?  Several reasons.  It’s here the Federals built the final line of defense against the incessant Confederate attacks.  Here Hooker recognized some of the previous failures and put Henry Hunt in charge of the Federal artillery (a turning point in the war to some degree).  And it is here the Army of the Potomac lived to fight another day.  While the day was a “victory” for Robert E. Lee and the Confederates, the all important success eluded them.  These trenches set the situation which lead north to Gettysburg.


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