On Thursday, the 30th, Sickles' corps was detached from my command, and ordered to the United States Ford, and during the night one of the bridges at the upper and one at the lower crossing were taken up, under orders from headquarters, and sent to Banks' Ford.
On Friday, May 1, at 5 p. m., and order was received from the commanding general to make a demonstration in force at 1 o'clock that same day; to let it be sa severe as possible without being an attack; to assume a threatening attitude, and maintain it until further orders. It was already some hours after the time fixed for the movement, but the last clause of the order, as stated here, determined me to execute it without delay. Reynolds' corps was accordingly displayed in force; General Newton was directed to send one division of the Sixth Corps to Reynolds' support, to cover his bridges sin case of an attack, and the Light Brigade across at the upper bridges, to support General Brooks, who was to display his force as if for advance. When these movements had been executed, and order was received countermanding the order for the demonstration.
The following day, Saturday, May 2, Reynolds' corps was withdrawn from my command, and ordered to proceed to headquarters of the army, at or near Chancellorsville, one division, General Wheaton's, of the Sixth Corps, being sent by General Newton to cover his crossing and take up his bridge. I was also ordered to take up all the bridges at Franklin's crossing and below before daylight. This order was received at 5.25 a. m., after daylight, and could not, of course, be executed without attacking the observation of the enemy, and leaving him free to proceed against the forces under General Hooker.
At 6.30 p. m. the order to pursue the enemy by the Bowling Green road was repeated, and my commnad was immediately put under arms and advanced upon the right, driving the enemy from the Bowling Green road and pushing him back to the woods. That night at 11 o'clock I received and order, dated 10.10 p. m., directing me to cross the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg immediately upon receipt of the order, and move in the direction of Chancellorsville until I connected with the major-general commanding; to attack and destroy any force on the road, and be in the vicinity of the general at daylight.
I had been informed repeatedly by Major-General Butterfield, chief of staff, that the force in front of me was very small, and the whole tenor of his many dispatches would have created the impression that the enemy had abandoned my front and retired from the city and its defenses had there not been more tangible evidence than the dispatches in question that the chief of staff was misinformed.
The order to cross at Fredericksburg found me with my entire command on the south side of the river, ready to pursue by the Bowling Green road. To recross for the purpose of crossing again at Fredericksburg, where no bridges shad been laid, would have occupied until long after daylight. I commenced, therefore, to move by the flank in the direction of Fredericksburg, on the Bowling Green road, General Newton taking the advance, followed by the Light Brigade and Howe's division. A sharp skirmish commenced as the head of the column moved from the immediate vicinity of the bridges, and continued all the way to the town, the enemy falling slowly back. At the same time, a sudden attack was made upon the pickets in front of the Bernard house. When the head of the column entered the town, four regiments from Wheaton's and Shaler's brigades were sent forward against the rifle-pits, and advanced within 20 yards of the enemy's works, when they received a sudden and destructive fire. An immediate assault