Lees greatest triumph

The Battle of Chancellorsville continued for another two days, but the Union proved unable to recover from Jackson's deadly surprise attack. On May 6, Hooker finally disengaged his troops from the area and retreated after suffering more than seventeen thousand casualties. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, on the other hand, had lost fewer than thirteen thousand troops despite having a far smaller force.

Lee's victory at Chancel-lorsville was his greatest triumph yet. Using his own mastery of tactics to deadly effect, he had whipped an army more than twice the size of his own Confederate force. But the victory came at a great price. Lee had lost his best general (Jackson) and more than

20 percent of his army in the clash. But, as James M. McPherson noted in Battle Cry of Freedom, the Confederates' victory at Chancellorsville "bred an overconfidence in their own prowess and a contempt for the enemy that led to disaster. Believing his troops invincible, Lee was about to ask them to do the impossible."

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