a non-commissioned officer and four privates of the U. S. Army, accompanied by myself, with an aide-de-camp; and we had proceeded on about four miles, having taken the precaution to keep a mounted officer considerably in advance to reconnoiter the road until we had reached New Market Bridge, where we came up with a considerable number of Colonel Duryea's men, who were left to guard the bridge. Passing on myself, with aide-de-camp still being considerably in advance, we discovered a large body of armed men by the roadside, who appeared to be emerging from the woods and taking up their position on the road, and, believing them to be friends, we were passing on, when we suddenly discovered that they were occupying the road with a field piece, just ready to open fired upon us, and we were immediately saluted by a volley from their small arms and a discharge from their field piece, quickly followed by an indiscriminate fire from Colonel Townsend's regiment. I rode back, order them to cease firing, charge bayonets, and shout Boston. Colonel Townsend's men fell to the right and left of the road in confusion, but in a few minutes rallied and reformed, by directions of myself and Colonel Townsend, under a very heavy fire. I then ordered the column to withdraw to a position about one-half a mile back across the bridge, on rising ground, where they could sustain themselves, destroying the bridge as we passed. This movement I caused to be made, hoping to draw the supposed enemy from their positions, and also to await re-enforcements, which I had sent for, from Hampton. When we found the supposed enemy advancing, I threw out skirmishers, who, to my surprise, I soon found uniting themselves with the supposed enemy, who in a few minutes proved to be friends, and a portion of the forces from Newport News, commanded by Colonel Bendix. The result of this fire upon us was, 2 mortally wounded (1 since dead); 3 dangerously; 4 officers and 12 privates slightly; making a total, 21.
Leaving the rest to collect the wounded and refresh the tired men, I had an interview with the commanding officers present-Colonels Townsend, Duryea, and Lieutenant-Colonel Washburn-and was strongly advised by Duryea and Washburn not to proceed, as the enemy, being now warned of our approach, would gain strength from Yorktown, and that the original design of surprise had now became fully frustrated. I decided that it was my duty to follow my written instructions, and in this decision was sustained by Major Winthrop and Captain Haggerty, your aides-de-camp.
In answer to the remonstrance of Colonel Duryea and Washburn, that re-enforcements would come from Yorktown, I replied that we had already sent for re-enforcements from Camp hamilton, and I hoped that ours at least might equal theirs. We the marched on, being joined by the forces from Newport News; and in reply to the question from Colonel Washburn, how are we to proceed, I said, follow the original design of General Butler to the extent of our several abilities.
Soon after arrived at Little Bethel. That we burned, finding no resistance, and halted the column, bringing the artillery to the front. We soon after obtained the testimony of a woman at a farm-house that Big Bethel was garrisoned by some 4,000 men, and from a negro obtained substantially a like information. When we arrived within a mile of County Bridge the column halted, and Captains Kilpatrick and Bartlett having discovered that the enemy were holding strong position in battery at the head of the road, we now drew up in line of battle at the skirts of the wood, the artillery and howitzers being pushed some thirty rods up the road. Captains Winslow, Bartlett, and Kilpatrick having been ordered to advance as skirmishers, the regiment of Colonel Duryea