May 1863

The Confederacy scored its most remarkable military victory, but lost one of its best commanders. Vicksburg and Port Hudson came under Federal siege. The Confederate Congress enacted several new laws, and the U.S. War Department authorized the recruitment of black troops. A prominent northern Democrat was arrested for opposing the war, while Lee embarked on a bold new strategy.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Hooker Pulls Back

Robert E. Lee rushes to trap the Federal Army of the Potomac in the Wilderness, while Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson proposes one of the most daring maneuvers of the war.

The Battle of Port Gibson

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals try pushing inland from the Mississippi River to gain a foothold on the ground south of Vicksburg. Confederates block their advance at Port Gibson.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Jackson Attacks

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates attack the unsuspecting Federal right flank, but Jackson is seriously wounded in the aftermath.

Vicksburg: Grant Moves East

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal Army of the Tennessee heads east toward the Mississippi capital of Jackson after its victory at Port Gibson. From there, Grant plans to turn west and target the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Fighting Resumes

Robert E. Lee’s Confederates resume their attacks in hopes of cutting off the Federal Army of the Potomac before it can reach the Rappahannock River.

The Battle of Salem Church or Second Fredericksburg

Federals attack the Confederate defenders on Marye’s Heights in a fight reminiscent of the Federal disaster at Fredericksburg last December.

Fighting at Fredericksburg and Salem Church Continues

Confederates regain Marye’s Heights outside Fredericksburg, as John Sedgwick’s Federals retreat across the Rappahannock River.

The Country Will Furnish the Balance

Ulysses S. Grant pauses to unite his Federal Army of the Tennessee before moving northeast toward the Mississippi capital of Jackson. John C. Pemberton gathers all available Confederate forces to block Grant’s path.

Chancellorsville: Hooker Orders a Withdrawal

Joseph Hooker overrides the majority of his corps commanders and orders that the Federal Army of the Potomac withdraw back across the river, thereby ending the Battle of Chancellorsville in defeat.

The Chancellorsville Campaign Ends

The Federal Army of the Potomac retreats across the Rappahannock River, and the troops regroup in their original camps at Falmouth, Virginia.

Chancellorsville Aftermath: Lincoln Visits Hooker

President Abraham Lincoln and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck arrive at Aquia Creek to meet with Major-General Joseph Hooker regarding the Army of the Potomac’s latest defeat.

The Case of Clement L. Vallandigham

Former Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham is arrested and tried by a military court for violating an order prohibiting citizens from speaking out against the war effort. This action inadvertently causes mass protest in the North for violating freedom of speech.

The Death of “Stonewall” Jackson

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, commanding the Second Corps in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies from complications of gunshot wounds sustained during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

The Battle of Raymond

A lone Confederate brigade offers stiff resistance against one of Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal corps near the town of Raymond, Mississippi.

Federals Close in on Jackson

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal Army of the Tennessee closes in on the Mississippi capital of Jackson as the two main Confederate forces in the state try to unite to stop the Federals.

The Fall of Jackson

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals seize the Mississippi capital as part of their roundabout offensive against Vicksburg.

Lee’s Daring Gamble

Robert E. Lee attends a strategy conference with President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet at Richmond, where Lee unveils a daring plan to invade the North once more.

The Battle of Champion’s Hill

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals head west from Jackson and take on John C. Pemberton’s Confederates near the halfway point to Vicksburg.

The Battle of Black River Bridge

Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals rout Confederates under John C. Pemberton and send them fleeing into the defenses outside Vicksburg.

The Battle of Vicksburg

Ulysses S. Grant follows up his overwhelming Federal victory on the Big Black River by driving toward Vicksburg, the ultimate goal of his campaign.

This Establishes Military Despotism

President Abraham Lincoln issues orders to banish former Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham to the South for voicing anti-war views that the administration considers dangerous.

The Reorganized Army of Northern Virginia

Robert E. Lee submits a request to President Jefferson Davis to reorganize his Confederate army before launching his second northern invasion.

Port Hudson: Federals Close the Escape Route

Nathaniel P. Banks’s Federal Army of the Gulf finally begins advancing on the Confederate stronghold of Port Hudson, Louisiana, after conducting a series of ancillary operations.

The Second Battle of Vicksburg

Ulysses S. Grant resolves to send his Federals against the Confederate defenses outside Vicksburg once more.

Reform and Resentment in the Army of the Potomac

Men of the Federal Army of the Potomac return to their camps at Falmouth, Virginia, sullen but hopeful after the Chancellorsville defeat. Meanwhile, the generals direct their resentment toward their commander.

The Siege of Vicksburg

Federal army and navy forces initiate a siege of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, and the Confederate army within the city soon finds itself trapped with no way of resupplying or reinforcing.

The Battle of Port Hudson

Nathaniel P. Banks’s Federal Army of the Gulf surrounds Port Hudson, one of the last Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi River. Banks then orders a assault against strong enemy defenses that proves futile.

Armies Begin Stirring in Northern Virginia

Joseph Hooker replaces his cavalry commander, Confederates raid his depot, and Robert E. Lee looks to hurry his planned northern invasion.

Last Updated: 6/3/2023

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