On May 7, 1863 scandal rocked the Confederate States of America when Major General Earl Van Dorn in his headquarters at Spring Hill, Tennessee was shot once in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
The gunman, Dr. James Bodie Peters, claimed that Van Dorn had carried on an affair with his wife, Jessie McKissack Peters. A blatant womanizer, Van Dorn was dubbed "the terror of ugly husbands" by a reporter shortly before his death.
On Sunday, May 10, 1863 Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson succumbed to his injuries. Wounded by his own men at Chancellorsville, Jackson had developed pneumonia after the amputation of an arm.
In his last, delirious moments, once again ordering his Confederates into battle, he suddenly noted in a calm voice, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.” With that, Jackson died.
Two concerned presidents spent much of Thursday, May 7, 1863 in communication with their respective military leaders. After personally conferring with Hooker, Lincoln returned to Washington and wrote his general, noting “If possible I would be very glad of another movement early enough to give us some benefit from the enemies communications being broken, but neither for this reason or any other, do I wish anything done in desperation or rashness.”
On Tuesday, May 5, 1863 former congressman Clement Vallandigham, leader of the Northern Copperheads, was arrested in Dayton, Ohio. Tried by a military commission, he was convicted for expressing treasonable sympathies.
He had previously referred to the war as an attempt to destroy slavery so as to create a Republican Party dictatorship and had described the Civil War as “wicked and cruel.”
When Stonewall Jackson successfully outflanked and attacked Hooker’s Union army at Chancellorsville, the Confederacy won a stunning, but costly, victory because Jackson was mortally wounded—ironically by his own men.
On the following day, Lee continued his assault on the Union lines, and Joseph Hooker became a casualty of war when a Confederate shell struck the Chancellor House, giving him a concussion. The Union army was forced to withdraw from Chancellorsville, despite General Sedgwick’s success of driving the Jubal Early’s Confederates out of Fredericksburg.
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.
On April 30, 1863 Joseph Hooker’s infantry concentrated and set up camp near the Chancellor family home, known at Chancellorsville.
Utilizing the Union force remaining at Falmouth, commanded by John Sedgwick, which faced Fredericksburg, Hooker planned a double envelopment which would threaten Lee’s Confederates from both the front and rear and place Federal troops between Lee and Richmond.
On Wednesday, April 29, 1863 in the West Union gunboats engaged Confederate gun emplacements at Grand Gulf on the Mississippi River, attempting to clear the way for Ulysses Grant’s army to cross.
However, after six hours of firing the Confederate gun emplacements were not silenced, and during the night Grant’s leading force marched southward along the Louisiana shore to a new landing opposite Bruinsburg, Mississippi. The Union fleet, prepared to transport the army across the river, followed the army downstream.
In late April 1863 Joseph Hooker’s Union Army of the Potomac began crossing the Rappahannock at Kelly’s and U.S. fords, upstream from Fredericksburg, moving into the heart of the Wilderness area.
As Hooker’s corps moved, church bells in Confederate held Fredericksburg sounded the alarm. A flanking attack by the Federals was obviously under way. With George Stoneman’s Union cavalry disrupting Lee’s lines of communications, Hooker hoped to confuse Lee about his intentions, then draw him into the field and destroy the Confederate army.
As granted by the Constitution, Presidents have the power to grant clemency in one or more of the following ways: granting a full pardon, commuting a sentence, or rescinding a fine.
Except for a single act of pardoning 264 Dakota Indians who attacked white settlers in the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, Abraham Lincoln sparingly utilized his ability to issue pardons or grant clemency while in the White House.