Salem Church



Virginia, Spotsylvania County,

May 3–4, 1863

On May 3, while the Confederates triumphed at Chancellorsville, US General Sedgwick’s force broke out of Fredericksburg and headed west toward CS General Lee’s rear. CS Brigadier General Cadmus M. Wilcox’s Brigade fought a successful delaying action at Salem Church while Lee sent reinforcements. The little brick country church was a fort for Wilcox’s Alabama troops during the battle and a hospital afterward.

The next day the Confederates formed an immense V-shaped line around Sedgwick’s men and drove them back to the river at Banks’ Ford. The VI Corps escaped across two pontoon bridges at Scott’s Dam after dark. On the night of May 5–6 Hooker also recrossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock and abandoned the campaign.

Faced with the loss of Stonewall Jackson, Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia into three corps, each with three divisions. CS Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell assumed command of Jackson’s old Second Corps, and CS Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill took over the newly formed Third Corps. CS Lieutenant General James Longstreet continued in command of the First Corps.


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