One hundred and fifty-six years ago Robert E. Lee had inflicted on the Union its most stunning defeat of the War, and brought the Union to its lowest point in that conflict.
Lee had won an incredible victory against an army that outnumbered his forces more than two to one, but at a terrible cost. His casualties were almost 13,000, only some 4,000 less than the Union casualties. Lee had cemented his reputation as one of the great Captains of history, but he had been unable to destroy the Army of the Potomac.
Hooker would be dismissed from command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863 in the midst of the Gettysburg campaign. He would regain some of his professional prestige by serving as a competent corps commander in the Chattanooga and Atlanta campaigns. He would remain bitter about his loss at Chancellorsville for the remainder of his life, blaming all and sundry, especially Generals Sedgwick and Howard. It is possible that Hooker did state the truth about what happened at Chancellorsville once. According to a staff officer almost five decades after the event, General Abner Doubleday asked Hooker during the Gettysburg campaign what went wrong with him at Chancellorsville. Hooker supposedly said that he had simply lost faith in Joe Hooker.
Union morale plummeted in the wake of Chancellorsville with many commenters wondering that if the Army of the Potomac could not beat Lee with a two to one advantage, when could it beat him. Lincoln summed up the popular despair: ‘My God! My God! What will the country say! What will the country say!’