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Chancellorsville death sparks letters
When Sue Chancellor wrote about the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, it resonated with a soldier's brother in California. By Mac Wyckoff

 Lt. William B. Hutton is buried in Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery. The Alabamian was killed May 3, 1863, in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
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Date published: 1/20/2007

I N JANUARY OF 1921, Confed- erate Veteran magazine pub- lished a memoir by Sue Chancellor about the Battle of Chancellorsville. At the time of the battle, She was a young teenager living in the Chancellor House for which the battle was named. Sue married her cousin Vespasian Chancellor, so her last name remained the same after marriage. Her article vividly details her awful memories of the fighting that swirled around her house on May 3, 1863.

The publication of Sue Chancellor's memoir struck a chord on the other side of the continent. A.H. Hutton responded to the article by writing two letters from his law office in Los Angeles to Mrs. Chancellor. Hutton's older brother, William, was killed at Chancellorsville on May 3.

William B. Hutton was a young Alabamian whose parents both died by the time he was 12 or 13. He left home in 1856 to attend the University of Virginia. He intended to go to Germany to pursue his studies as a linguist, but war interrupted his plans. On May 25, 1861, at age 20, he enlisted as a corporal in the North Sumter Rifles, an artillery company. They traveled by train to Northern Virginia, where they were present at, but not engaged in, the First Battle of Manassas. In 1862 they were combined with other companies to form an infantry unit, the 5th Alabama Battalion.

This unit's first serious action was at Mechanicsville and Gaines Mill during the Seven Days' Campaign near Richmond at the end of June 1862. According to one memoir, Hutton's company sent 70 men into the waves of attacks on the Union strong position at Gaines Mill and 40 members of the company were casualties. William Hutton reported it was worse than that. He sent home a scrap of paper with the names of the killed and wounded and indicated that only nine members were uninjured. So badly was the company hurt that in the aftermath Hutton, a corporal, was in command.

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