On May 1, 1863 the Battle of Chancellorsville began. Leaving Jubal Early at Fredericksburg with only 10,000 men to oppose Sedgwick’s 40,000 at Falmouth, Lee quickly moved 47,000 of his Army of Northern Virginia to Chancellorsville to confront Hooker.
In the afternoon Hooker amazed his officers by surrendering the initiative, ordering his main units to withdraw before Lee’s advance and concentrate in a five mile area near Chancellorsville. Lee’s force moved cautiously against Hooker’s 70,000 troops.
That night Lee and Stonewall Jackson conferred and agreed to split their army, with Jackson taking 26,000 troops on a flanking maneuver against Hooker’s right. While Jackson marched, Lee would demonstrate against Hooker’s front, while hoping that the Union commander would not take the initiative and attack his severely depleted force.