In late April 1863 Joseph Hooker’s Union Army of the Potomac began crossing the Rappahannock at Kelly’s and U.S. fords, upstream from Fredericksburg, moving into the heart of the Wilderness area.
As Hooker’s corps moved, church bells in Confederate held Fredericksburg sounded the alarm. A flanking attack by the Federals was obviously under way. With George Stoneman’s Union cavalry disrupting Lee’s lines of communications, Hooker hoped to confuse Lee about his intentions, then draw him into the field and destroy the Confederate army.
As such, Union activities were conducted at Franklin’s Crossing just below Fredericksburg, while Federal troops from Falmouth tried to divert Confederate attention from the main crossing above the city. As the Union corps moved, only Hooker knew the true destination of his army—Chancellorsville, Virginia.