On the morning of May 1, I went out 3 miles on the turnpike to Fredericksburg to reconnoiter. As far as I went, I found the road good and road. The country along the road for the first mile is wooded on both sides, and was generally so to the left of it (except some cleared fields) nearly to the river. The inhabitants reported the roads and communications to be indirect and in bad condition between the road and river. To the right of the road it was rather more open, and in places the clearing extended across from the road to the Plank road. These two roads, diverging at Chancellorsville, were separated in the widest place perhaps a mile, but, gradually converging, were said to meet again in about 6 miles. The small streams crossed the turnpike and ran to the Rappahannock, the ridges being nearly perpendicular to the road. The Plank road keeps along the sources of these little streams, and follows the ridge between the waters that flow to the Rappahannock and the sources of the Mattapony River. I found the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry picketing the road for 3 miles and to within sight of the enemy's breastwork thrown across the road, which was as far as I could go. The clearing in front of the Chancellorsville house to the southward did not extend more than 200 yards, but it widened as you went westward toward Culpeper for about half a mile, where a good position was to be found at a place called Fairview. Just beyond this a small stream, one of the sources of the Ny River, crossed the Plank road, and here the woods were standing on both sides of the road, and the westerly bank of the stream commanded all the open plain about Chancellorsville. Woods and clearings alternate with each other farther on to our right.
On my return to headquarters, about 10 a. m., I found that an advance had been ordered. The First and Third Divisions of the Fifth Corps were to take the road along the river toward Banks' Ford; the Second Division of the Fifth Corps, the turnpike, to be followed by a portion of the Second Corps, and the Twelfth Corps to move out on the Plank road toward Fredericksburg. This was a movement to take up a line of battle about 2 1/2 miles in front, preparatory to a simultaneous advance along the line at 2 p. m. di went back over the route I had examined, which was that given to the Second Division of the Fifth Corps, under General Sykes. On gaining the ridge, about 1 1/4 miles from Chancellorsville, we found the enemy advancing and driving back our cavalry. This small force resisted handsomely, riding up and firing almost in the faces of the Eleventh Virginia Infantry, which formed the enemy's advance. General Sykes moved forward at double-quick time, attacked the enemy vigorously, and drove him back with loss till he had gained the position assigned him. This he obtained about 12 o'clock. No sound yet reached us indicating that any of our column had encountered the advance of the enemy.
In General Sykes' front the enemy deployed to the right and left, in line far outreaching the whole of ours, and I have never seen the steadiness of our troops more tried and proved. Captain Weed brought his battery into the front line on the ridge where it could operate against the enemy, and was able to reply to him within musket-range, and used his guns with great effect. When the division had all been deployed to extend the line of battle, the lack of numbers compelled a regiment to be deployed as skirmishers. No connection, however, could even thus be made with our own troops on the right, and my aide, Lieutenant James, in attempting to communicate with the presumed position of General Slocum, ran against the enemy's skirmishers, from which he fortunately escaped, though many shots were fired after him. A simi-