This order was punctually obeyed. Gen. Hunt placed forty-two guns at Franklin’s, forty at Pollock’s Mill, and sixteen at Traveller’s Rest, a mile below, a number more being held in reserve. Those in position were so disposed as to “enfilade the rifle-pits, crush the fire of the enemy’s works on the hill, cover the throwing of the bridges, and protect the crossing of the troops.” (Hunt.)
These three corps camped that night without fires, and the pontoons were carried to the river by hand to insure secrecy.
At daybreak, Wednesday, Russell’s brigade crossed in boats at Franklin’s with little opposition. The bridges were then constructed; and Brooks’s division passed over with a battery, and established itself strongly on the south side.
At the lower crossing, Reynolds’s attempts to throw the bridges early in the morning were defeated by sharpshooters and a supporting regiment. But about half-past eight, the fog, which had been quite dense, lifted; and under fire of the artillery the Confederates were driven away, and the crossing made by Wadsworth.
During Wednesday and Thursday the entire command was held in readiness to force a passage at any time, the bridge-heads being held by Brooks and Wadsworth respectively.
The real move by the right wing.
Hooker was a master of logistics. The forethought and excellent judgment displayed in all orders under which these preliminary moves of the army-corps were made, as well as the high condition to which he had brought the army, cannot elicit higher praise than to state the fact, that, with the exception of the Cavalry Corps, all orders issued were carried out au pied de la lettre, and that each body of troops was on hand at the hour and place prescribed. This eulogy must, however, be confined to orders given prior to the time when the fighting began.
On April 26 the commanding officers of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were directed to march Monday morning, the 27th, towards Kelley’s Ford, on the Rappahannock,—some fifteen miles above its junction with the Rapidan,—Howard leading.
As much secrecy as possible was enjoined, and the men were not to be allowed to go down to the river. Eight days’ rations to be carried in the haversacks. Each corps to take a battery and two ambulances to a division, the pack-train for small ammunition, and a few wagons for forage only. The rest of the trains to be parked in the vicinity of Banks’s Ford out of sight. A sufficient detail, to be made from the troops whose term was about to expire, to be left behind to guard camp, and do provost duty.
Meade was ordered to march the Fifth Corps in connection with the Eleventh and Twelfth, and equipped in similar manner.
The three corps to be in camp at Kelley’s Ford, in positions indicated, by four P.M. on Tuesday.