• Fredericksburg Battlefield: Sunken Road, Stone Wall and Innis House sunrise

    Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania

    National Military Park Virginia

Hazel Grove Walking Trail

The tragic wounding of "Stonewall" Jackson at 9:00 p.m., May 2, 1863, brought to an end a day of momentous military events. The Battle of Chancellorsville, however, was far from over. the action on May 3rd would determine if the Confederates could exploit Jackson's initial success and continue to drive the Union army from its fortified positions. The end result of the many charges and counter thrusts over the ground between two elevated clearings, Hazel Grove and Fairview, dictated the outcome of the battle.

A one-mile, 45-minute, round-trip walking tour will lead you to important points on the May 3 battlefield. We suggest that you read the numbered paragraphs below while facing the corresponding number displayed at each tour stop. The map above will help you follow the marked route.


This hill formed approximately on-fourth of a large open field on a tract of land called Hazel Grove. In the pre-dawn hours of May 3, Union chieftain Joseph Hooker unwisely ordered his forces positioned here to abandon Hazel Grove. Jackson's attacks the previous evening had played havoc with Hooker's deployment, and the Federal commander wished to adjust his lines. He instructed his men to fall back closer to the Union artillery concentrated at Fairview, the ridge across the open field 1/2 mile ahead of you. Cavalry officer J. E. B. Stuart had replaced the wounded Jackson in command of the Confederate forces located about 1/4 mile behind you and extending to your left nearly a mile. R. E. Lee commanded another portion of the Confederate army, one mile to your right. The two generals planned to advance their respective wings toward Hazel Grove, and here reunite their outnumbered and divided army. Union occupation of Hazel Grove would have offered formidable resistance to the Confederate objective, but thanks to Hooker's tactical blunder, Stuart's forward movement encountered only a Union rearguard. With the capture of four cannon and 100 prisoners, the Confederates seized this vital terrain.


The landscape around Chancellorsville, known as the Wilderness of Spotsylvania and characterized by dense woods, offered few opportunities for the use of artillery. The Confederates quickly realized that this open ground was well-suited for cannon. Shortly after Stuart's seizure of Hazel Grove, Rebel guns crowned this hill. They targeted the Yankee cannon at Fairview and the supporting infantry in the woods on either side of the clearing.

Colonel E. P. Alexander, in charge of the Southern artillery at Hazel Grove, had more cannon at his disposal than he had space on this hilltop. With such a strong reserve, he relieved any gun crew the moment their ammunition ran low or they suffered heavy casualties. Alexander is shown in the painting directing one of his fresh guns into position. Ordnance officer F.M. Colston recalled seeing Major "Willie" Pegram, standing hatless in the right foreground, "with the fire of battle shining from his eyes through his spectacles," saying to Col. Alexander: "A glorious day, Colonel, a glorious day!" Lieutenant Ham Chamberlayne, kneeling beside mortally wounded Captain Greenlee Davidson, sadly reported, "I was on my horse beside Davidson when he was killed by a minie fired 800 yards off."


The Wilderness vegetation hampered attempts by the infantry of either army to coordinate their efforts. Accordingly, the opposing foot soldiers of many commands ebbed and flowed through the woods to your left. About 8:00 a.m. nearly tow hours after the day's struggle began, Union reinforcements under General Charles Graham formed between here and the Orange Turnpike ahead of you. As Colonel Amor McKnight of the 105th Pennsylvania on this end of the line ordered his men to advance to take their turn at the front, a Confederate sharpshooter's bullet instantly killed him. "Go for them, they have shot the colonel!" yelled the Pennsylvanians as they rushed into action, renewing the conflict in the woods.


The action of the typifies the brutal fighting along the mile long battlefront. About 9:15 a.m. from a position near here, the regiment entered the woods to your left. Graham's Brigade had retreated under a Confederate onslaught, and the 12th was called upon to fill the breach in the Union line. Instructed to hold the enemy in check "until the last man falls," the regiment stepped off. Met with "that savage-like screech" known as the rebel yell, the 12th managed to stem the Confederate tide long enough for new line to be formed beyond Fairview at the Chancellorsville Inn, 1/2 mile to your right front. But their mission carried a high cost -- 317 casualties out of 558 men.


Captain Clermont Best commanded the Union artillery here on the Fairview farmstead. His original position faced south, protected by the gun pits a few yards behind you. On the evening of May 2, he swung his guns around to help repulse "Stonewall" Jackson's attack and had his men fortify this ridge with the earthworks visible along the tree line to your right. (The tree line did not exist in 1863.) The Union forces that abandoned Hazel Grove early on May 3 rallied around Best's guns at Fairview. As the morning wore on, Best had no choice but to send some of his cannon to the rear as ammunition chests emptied. Army headquarters could not or would not respond to pleas for more projectiles. When Confederate riflemen appeared on each end of Best's line, picking off gunners and horses, he felt "compelled to withdraw my guns to save them." By 9:30 a.m., cannon crews still possessing rounds headed for the new line being established near the Chancellorsville Inn.


The two Confederate wings, one under Stuart and another with Lee, linked together about 1/4 mile behind you. This re-united force delivered a musketry fire from this sector, raking Best's line and hastening its flight. Teams of horses strained to haul Confederate cannon from Hazel Grove to the former Union line at Fairview. A.L. Scott observed Lee near this new artillery position: "He was standing by his horse with reins over his arm, calmly directing the battle." With the Confederates pounding the Chancellorsville Inn from three directions, that Union position also fell promptly.


This monument stands between two smaller flank markers indicating the front occupied by the 27th Indiana, one of more than 200 Federal regiments present for duty on the Chancellorsville battlefield. An average regiment, 430 strong, could form a pair of lines, each line two men deep, in the space between these flank markers.

Colorful Col. Silas Colgrove led the 27th Indiana. He managed to round up soldiers from units broken apart by Jackson's May 2 attack and even added two abandoned cannon to his command. At a hot point during the battle he shouted to the regiments major, his son, "Here boy, you run the regiment while I run this here gun."

To learn more about visiting Chancellorsville Battlefield, click here.

To learn more about the Battle of Chancellorsville, click here.

Union Artillery Position at Fairview
Union artillery position at Fairview

Did You Know?

Site of Chancellorsville

While laying out the Chancellorsville History Trail, the park staff in places had to literally hack their way through a jungle of underbrush that resembled the Wilderness that the soldiers struggled through during the Battle of Chancellorsville.