In the time of the Civil War, it was difficult to keep Abraham Lincoln (for the USA) and Jefferson Davis (for the CSA) advised of battles and their outcomes. On May 3, although not expressly authorized by General Hooker, Major General Daniel Butterfield (Hooker’s chief of staff), sent a telegram to Lincoln, advising that a battle near Chancellorsville had commenced on May 1st:
Though not directed or specially authorized to do so by Genl. Hooker I think it not improper that I should advise you that a battle is in progress.
Despite the early advantages Hooker had enjoyed, things continued to go badly for his Union forces. On May 6th, Hooker sent the president an encrypted telegram advising that his troops had withdrawn across the river. Given Hooker’s earlier boast, it must have been one of the most difficult messages the commanding general ever sent.
How was it that the tide had turned so dramatically against Hooker? The U.S. Military Academy’s annotated maps are helpful to understand what happened on each day of the Chancellorsville battle:
Following Hooker’s defeat, Edward Morgan sent Abraham Lincoln a telegram (on May 6th) requesting reinforcements:
Nothing will so Cheer the hearts of all good men as the immediate re-inforcement of Genl Hooker by troops from around Washington Fortress Monroe & Suffolk.