On May 4, 1864, the Army of the Potomac was on the move once more. That day it began crossing the Rapidan River in anticipation of bringing Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to battle. Artist Alfred Waud captured the moment when Ulysses S. Grant sat down to write a dispatch to the authorities back in Washington notifying them of this event.
The Fifth and Sixth Corps crossed here at Germanna Ford. It would be a concern to protect the wagon trains supplying the army that would lead the Union high command to decide to halt somewhat short of their target for May 4, in order to provide protection for this vast caravan.