Banks Ford on the Rappahannock is a few miles upstream from Fredericksburg. Today there is no sign identifying the ford, but an interpretive sign is located there. To reach the area, take River Road west from Fredericksburg. After leaving the shopping area known as Central Park, the road descends to the river. The ford is located at the bottom of the hill.
In the third week of January, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside attempted to lead his army across the river at this point, but turned back because of heavy rains that turned the roads into mud. Throughout the winter and spring the Confederates watched this area as a possible crossing point.
At the beginning of the Chancellorsville Campaign, Wilcox's Alabama Brigade guarded the crossing site. However, on May 1, they moved closer to Fredericksburg leaving the ford unguarded. On the same day, two Union brigades of the Fifth Corps, were sent west from Chancellorsville along the River Road to seize the crossing site. The leading elements reached a point almost within sight of the ford when they were recalled by General Hooker.
On May 4, the Confederates attempted to surround and capture the Union Sixth Corps. However, the Federals soldiers managed to reach the river and cross at Scott's Ford, just downstream from Banks Ford