June 2, 1863. “Tuesday. Clear and warm. Our Brigade moved out of Fredericksburg tonight at 10 p.m.,” Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill wrote. “They went into camp near the Cot house on Telegraph [road] about 4 miles from town.”
17th Mississippi regiment Private Robert A. Moore said his company, at least, were “loth” to leave the Rappahannock River town where–despite fighting two battles–they’d had comfortable accommodations and good rations for almost eight months.
The brigade spent the next day, Wednesday, cooking three days rations “preparing for a march,” as Hill wrote. “The Brigade started at sunset and marched till 11 at night, about 10 miles altogether, and camped in 2 miles of Chancellorsville.”
They resumed marching about 6 a.m. Thursday morning. “We passed through Chancellorsville,” Hill recorded. “The country around is completely devastated for several miles and the stench from the dead bodies of men and horses is intolerable.”
After 23 miles, they reached Raccoon Ford on the Rapidan River about 4 p.m. “Disagreeable marching,” Moore wrote at the end of the day. “Hot & dusty.”
The spent Friday, June 5, camped at Raccoon Ford, apparently standing aside for other units to cross first. “We occupy the same ground we did on the 18th of last Nov.,” Moore recorded. “Hood’s division crossed the river at this ford yesterday.”
On Saturday, they forded the Rapidan about 10 a.m. and marched 16 miles with the rest of McLaws’ division, camping about 9 p.m. at Stevensburg, southeast of Culpeper.
At sunrise Sunday, they marched 12 more miles through Culpeper to a point on the Sperryville Turnpike about a mile and half from Culpeper. There they camped. They had marched 65 miles in six days.
“Nearly all of our army is being concentrated at this place,” Moore wrote. “The weather is remarkably cool for the season.”