Richard J. LeFevre (1931 - 2000)
watercolor and mixed media on paper
Fought from April 30 through May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, the Battle of Chancellorsville is considered General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory. The battle gets it name from the small village two miles from the battlefield, as well as the large brick home of the Chancellor family where the Union command made its headquarters. General Lee’s army was outnumbered by two to one as it faced the Union Army of the Potomac’s new commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker, General Ambrose Burnside's replacement. Finding himself outnumbered and outmaneuvered in the run-up to the battle, General Lee audaciously decided to send Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson with 33,000 of their troops behind Hooker’s entrenched army in a flanking maneuver, which left only 15,000 men with Lee to face Hooker’s 133,000 soldiers. In characteristic Jackson fashion, the ruse worked. In fact, in worked supremely. The Confederates defeated the Union Army, went back to Fredericksburg to defeat another Union Army, and then came back to mop up the first one. However, Chancellorsville’s most tragic and costly event for the South occurred on the evening of May 2, when Generals Jackson and A.P. Hill were on horseback aligning Hill’s fresh regiments to attack Hooker’s right a second time after Jackson’s successful surprise attack earlier in the day. Darkness was falling and after the generals conferred, a shot rang out from the 18th North Carolina regiment toward the group of 19 men. In the ensuing “friendly fire” melee, General Jackson was hit three times: once each in the right hand, left elbow, and left shoulder. About that time the Confederates opened up with an artillery barrage making it difficult to get the general to safety. He was actually dropped several times as they tried to move him to the rear of the line where General Jackson’s left arm had to be amputated. As he recuperated, Jackson received a message from General Lee from the front lines that read, “General Jackson, you may have lost your left arm, but I have lost my ‘right’ arm!” Jackson seemed to rally for a time, but eventually developed pneumonia, and on May 10, 1863, he passed away to the great grief of his troops and Southerners alike. His last words to his wife, Mary, were, “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.”
Bequest of the Artist
Richard J. LeFevre (1931 - 2000), “Chancellorsville,” Ewing Gallery Permanent Collection, accessed June 5, 2023, https://ewinggallery.omeka.net/items/show/192.