“All has been unusually quiet in front of us today,” 17th Mississippi diarist Robert A. Moore recorded on May 1, 1863 on Marye’s Heights above Fredericksburg.
That changed the next day, Saturday, Moore wrote, with “some skirmishing and cannonading in front….”
But as “very heavy fighting” was going on upriver at Chancellorsville, and it appeared that the Union troops south of the town were moving to join the rest of the army at Chancellorsville, Gen. Barksdale later reported, the 13th, 17th, and 18 regiments “with three of [Gen. Early’s] brigades proceeded to rejoin the main [Rebel] army at Chancellorsville.”
They hadn’t marched far when Gen. Early, hearing that the Union troops south of Fredericksburg were, in fact, advancing on Marye’s Hill, ordered Gen. Barksdale’s three regiments to return there at once.
Barksdale recalled the 21st Regiment from its picket duty along the river and positioned it “between the Marye House and the Plank Road” with the 18th “behind the stone wall at the Marye House” the 17th “in front of Lee’s Hill” and the 13th “still farther to the right.”
They didn’t have long to wait for the estimated 20,000 troops under Union Gen. John Sedgewick to attack.