Along this route, on May 2, 1863, Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson marched his wool-clad troops, some without
shoes, over 12 miles around to what they believed was the Union's unprotected right flank. The roads then were not nearly as wide or to
the quality of even this dusty dirt road, making the feat that much more challenging. Twice Jackson counter-marched his weary, hungry
men south, away from their intended destination, feigning retreat to deceive any Union onlookers. Despite their fatigue, to keep this
movement secret, Jackson had to issue orders to keep his men from spontaneously cheering when he rode by.
Despite Southern precautions, the Union soldiers had taken note of the Confederate movement, although remaining uncertain as to their intentions.
Union Major General Daniel Sickles would later describe the discovered movement and his response. General Sickles stated,
"...General Birney [reported], a column of the enemy was moving along his front toward our right. This column I found on going to
the spot to be within easy range of Clark's battery (about 1,600 yards), and Clark so effectually annoyed the enemy by his excellent
practice that the infantry sought cover in the woods or some other road more to the south, while the artillery and trains hurried past
in great confusion, vainly endeavoring to escape our well-directed and destructive fire. This continuous column--infantry, artillery,
trains, and ambulances--was observed for three hours moving apparently in a southerly direction toward Orange Court-House, on the Orange
and Alexandria Railroad, or Louisa Court-House, on the Virginia Central. The movement indicated a retreat on Gordonsville or an attack
upon our right flank--perhaps both, for if the attack failed the retreat could be continued. The unbroken mass of forest on our right
favored the concealment of the enemy's real design."
attempt at escape, Union Major General Joseph Hooker ordered men from his center, from Daniel Sickles 3rd Corps, to harass Jackson's
rear guard, leaving a gap between the Federal's right flank and the rest of their huge army. Jackson ordered the 23rd Georgia to hold
back the encroaching blue coats while he continued on his march. Although fighting furiously, ignoring the disparity in numbers, the
Georgians would eventually fall back past the Catherine Furnace, taking hold of an unfinished railroad bed (pictured here). When orders
came to fall back, Colonel Emory F. Best, the 23rd's commander, received word too late. Most of his men became Union prisoners.
As Colonel Best's men made their way to Union lines, thousands of Jackson's exhausted Confederates would be asked to produce yet
another monumental effort. Their duty meant finding the energy to vigorously attack the Union's vulnerable right flank and attempt to
destroy an army that just hours before held them between two segments of a force still more than twice their size.