Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/54
50 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
some point below Fredericksburg with the aid of gunboats, seizing Bowling Green and the railroad, and throwing General Lee off his direct communications with Richmond was much con- sidered. Brigadier General Warren, chief topographical engi- neer, reported that to cross the river so as to gain the heights below- Lee's entrenchments, required the secret movement of pontoon trains and artillery for more than twenty miles over roads which were impassable, and that the first available point below Skin-leers Neck would require one thousand feet of bridg- ing, which in his judgment made a movement by that flank im- practicable. The same authority looked upon a crossing im- mediately above Fredericksburg as scarcely more promising. He described the river as narrowing at Beck's Island two miles and a half -'above Fredericksburg, the bluffs a hundred and fifty feet in heighth on either side, "coming in close to the river, with .steep wooded slopes cut by ravines, and difficult of approach."
The first favorable conditions for approach which presented themselves to him were found at Banks' ford about six miles above by the road, though owing to a bend in the river only three miles from Fredericksburg on the south side. The river at the time of the report was not fordable, and he found it protected on the opposite side by several lines of intrenchments rising from the water's edge and constructed with traverses, as a protection against artillery fire. Being well guarded he considered its sur- prise impossible. The next point examined by Warren was the United States ford, seven miles above Banks' ford, where he re- ported finding long lines of infantry with battery epaulments, and an ampk force in support and the river not fordable.
Just above the United States ford the river forks, the Northern branch retaining the name Rappahannock and the Southern branch being known as the Rapidan. The most con- siderable ford on the northern branch is called Kelly's, which is about four miles from Rappahannock Station, a point on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, now called Remington. From Kelly's ford, roads ran westerly to Brandy Station and Cul- pepper, and southeasterly to Germanna and Ely's fords on the Rapidan, the latter passing through Richardsville direct to Chan- cellorsville, and the former intersecting the plank road from