General Stuart crossed the Rapidan at Raccoon Ford with Fitzhugh Lee's brigade on the night of the 29th. Halting to give his men a few hours' repose, he ordered Colonel [Thomas H.] Owen with the Third Virginia Cavalry to throw himself in front of the enemy, while the rest of the brigade attacked his right flank at the Wilderness Tavern, between Germanna Ford and Chancellorsville. By this means the march of this column was delayed until 12 m., when, learning that the one from Ely's Ford had already reached Chancellorsville, General Stuart marched by Todd's tavern toward Spotsylvania Court-House, to put himself in communication with the main body of the army, and Colonel Owen fell back upon General Anderson.
The enemy in our font near Fredericksburg continued inactive, and it was now apparent that the main attack would be made upon our flank and rear. It was, therefore, determined to leave sufficient troops to hold our lines, and with the main body of the army to give battle to the approaching column. Early's division, of Jackson's corps, and barksdale's brigade, of McLaws' division, with part of the reserve Artillery, under General [W. N.] Pendleton, were instructed with the defense of our position at Fredericksburg, and, at midnight on the 30th, General McLaws marched with the rest of his command toward Chancellorsville. General Jackson followed at dawn next morning with the remaining division of his corps. He reached the position occupied by General Anderson at 8 a. m., and immediately began preparations to advance.
At 11 a. m. the troops moved forward upon the Plank and old Turnpike roads, Anderson, with the brigades of Wright and Posey, leading on the former; McLaws, with his three brigades, proceeded by Mahone's, on the latter. Generals Wilcox and Perry, of Anderson's division, co-operated with McLaws. Jackson's troops followed Anderson on the Plank road. Colonel Alexander's battalion of artillery accompanied the advance. The enemy was soon encountered on both roads, and heavy skirmishing with infantry and artillery ensued, our troops pressing steadily forward. A strong attack upon General McLaws was repulsed with spirit by Seemes' brigade, and General Wright, by direction of General Anderson, diverging to the left of the Plank road, marched by way of the unfinished railroad from Fredericksburg to Gordonsville, and turned the enemy's right. His whole line thereupon retreated rapidly, vigorously pursued by our troops until they arrived within about 1 mile of Chancellorsville. Here the enemy had assumed a position of great natural strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest filled with a tangled undergrowth, in the midst of which breastworks of logs had been constructed, with trees felled in front, so as to form an almost impenetrable abatis. His artillery swept the few narrow roads by which his position could be approached from the front, and commanded the adjacent woods. The left of his line extended from Chancellorsville toward the Rappahannock, covering the Bark Mill Ford, where he communicated with the north bank of the river by a pontoon bridge. His right stretched westward along the Germanna Ford road more than 2 miles. Darkness was approaching before the strength and extent of his line could be ascertained, and as the nature of the country rendered it hazardous to attack by night, our troops were halted and formed in line of battle in front of Chancellorsville, at right angles to the Plank road, extending on the right to the Mine road and to the left in the direction of the Catharine Furnace. Colonel [Williams C.] Wickham, with Fourth Virginia Cavalry and Colonel Owen's regiment, was stationed between the Mine road and the rappahannock. the rest of the cavalry was upon our left flank.