Plank road, and soon came within hearing of musketry. Arriving at the intersection of the Plank road and the old turnpike the command followed the latter, and it was not long till they came under a distant artillery fire, our troops being at the time engaged skirmishing with the enemy, about 1 mile off. Having reported to General McLaws, commanding on this road, the brigade was ordered to te right, on the Mine road, and a battery was directed to be posted with the view of engaging one of the enemy's, then sweeping with its fire the old turnpike. [John W.] Lewis' battery, attached to my command, was soon in position. The enemy, however, ceasing to fire, the brigade was formed in line on the right of General Perry's brigade, and this on the right of General Wofford's. This brought my command to occupy in part a line of rifle-pits running from Banks' Ford to within a few hundred yards of the Mine road.
At 6.30 p.m. orders were received to advance to the front. This forward movement was continued, though with much difficulty, owing to the densely thick forest, till the darkness of the night rendered it impracticable to go farther. The command was halted near Duerson's Mills, on Mott's Run, three-fourths of a mile from the Rappahannock, and, having established pickets in our front and our flanks, the command bivouacked for the night. Two companies were ordered out on patrol, with the view of ascertaining whether or not the enemy occupied the River road near Decker's house, and, if not,to communicate with our pickets, left near Banks' Ford. The enemy were found not to occupy the River road. The companies, returning captured 3, Federal soldiers, making their way, so they stated, to the United States Ford.
At 10 p.m. orders were received to return to the old turnpike, and half for the remainder of the niht in rear and near the advanced troops on that road. This point was reached near 2.30 a.m., and soon after orders came to return to Banks' Ford, and to hold it at all hazards, it being reported that the enemy in force there and threatened to cross. The ford was reached at daylight; the command had thus been on the march the entire night.
The 2nd instant the brigade remained near Banks' Ford. Large bodies of the enemy's infantry and artillery were seen moving up on the opposite side of the river. Artillery was also heard in the direction of Chancellorsville. Strong pickets were kept up during the night near the ford.
Having visited my line of pickets on the morning of the 3rd instant, I found that the enemy had reduced very much (apparently) his force. The sentinels on post had their haversacks on, a thing unusual. This induced me to believe that much of the force from Banks' Ford had been sent to Chancellorsville, and having been ordered the day before by the commanding general to leave a small force to watch the ford if in my judgment I was satisfied that the enemy did not intend to cross, and then move up the Plank road, reporting the fact to him, I relieved my pickets, being convinced, as stated, taht the enemy had removed most of his forces from Bank's Ford and did not intend crossing there. Leaving only about 50 men and two pieces of artillery to guard Banks' Ford, my command was being formed to march to Chancellorsville, when one of my pickets (infantry) came running from the canal in front of Dr. Taylor's to report to me that the enemy were advancing up the road between the canal and the river. Hurrying rapidly to the canal, I saw the enemy advancing on the direct road from Fredericksburg, three regiments being seen, the leading one not more than 1,000 yards distant. Gathering in my pickets along the canal and at the dam above Taylor's-in all less than 20 men-they were deployed as skirmishers on