General Mahone had already occupied that place with the troops from United States Ford, having left a regiment from his own and five companies of the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment, from Posey's brigade, to hold the ford as long as possible. I learned also that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan at Ely's and Germanna Ford, capturing, after a very obstinate resistance, the greater part of a working party and picket which had been stationed at the latter place. After consultation with Brigadier-General Mahone and Posey, and an examination of the position at Chancellorsville, I decided upon falling back from that place to the point on the Plank road at which the Old Mine road crosses it, and this was done early on the morning of April 30, Wright's brigade, which had arrived at daylight, and the force which had been left at United States Ford, being withdrawn at the same time. Wright's and Posey's brigades retired from Chancellorsville by the Plank road, and Mahone's by the old turnpike. While they were moving off, and before the pickets had been called in, the cavalry of the enemy, under cover of log and rain, dashed upon the picket on the Ely's Ford road and captured a part of one company. They subsequently attacked that rear guard of Mahone's brigade, but were so effectually repulsed that we were no further annoyed by them during the movement.
Upon arriving at the intersection of the Old Mine and Plank roads, I met Colonel W. P. Smith, chief engineer Army of Northern Virginia, and Captain [S. R.] Johnston, of the Engineers Corps, who had been sent by the commanding general to examine the position and establish a line of intrenchments. The work of intrenching was commenced immediately after the line had been selected, and was continued with great diligence and activity throughout that day, the night following, and the early part of the next morning.
During the day there were occasional skirmishes with the enemy's cavalry, who had followed from Chancellorsville. In the afternoon Colonel [T. H.] Owen, commanding Third Regiment Virginia Cavalry, joined me with his regiment, and threw out pickets to the front and upon each flank.
A little before sunrise on May 1, Major-General McLaws, having come up with his division, strengthened the force immediately in front, and secured our right flank by occupying the trenches along Mott's Run. At 8 a.m. Lieutenant-General Jackson arrived. By his orders the work on the trenches was discontinued, and the troops were put in readiness for an advance, Wilcox's and Perry's brigades, which had been left above Fredericksburg, being at the same time ordered to join their division. The advance commenced at 11 a.m., Mahone's brigade, with [Tyler C.] Jordan's battery, of [E. P.] Alexander's battalion leading the movement on the old turnpike, and Wright's and Posey's brigades, with the other batteries of Alexander's battalion, leading on the Plank road. Colonel Owen's regiment of cavalry was employed reconnoitering these roads and others diverging from them. When the troops on the Plank road had advanced about 2 miles, the enemy was discovered in considerable force. They opened on ours with artillery, and seemed determined to resist our farther progress. Brigadier-General Wright was directed to follow with his brigade the line of the unfinished Fredericksburg and Gordonsville Railroad, to threaten their right and to compel them to fall back. This was executed with spirit and rapidity, and the enemy fell back with precipitation before our advance, which was resumed soon afterward. General Wright continued to follow the line of the railroad without opposition until he arrived at the Catherine (or Welford's) Furnace, where he had a sharp encounter with a supe-