portion of the North Carolina battalion. With the remaining force I took my position at the junction of Maney's road, to prevent the march of the enemy from Newport News on to the Sawyer Swampt road, to the rear of Lieutenant-Colonel Cumming.
About 5 o'clock I received and express from Colonel Hood, informing me that he had executed his orders, when I directed Colonel Cumming to fall back. I returned to this point with my whole command, and reoccupied the same position I had left in the morning.
After dark I sent Captain Phillips, with a detachment of thirty dragoons, to bring off the negroes on the James River side of the Peninsula from the vicinity of Newport News.
Captain Phillips returned this morning, having executed his orders with the skill and promptness for which he has been commended. One negro escaped from him by jumping out of a window. He was shot at by the guard, but escaped unhurt.
I have the honor to inclose herewith a list of negroes furnished me by Colonel Hood. I would especially call the attention of the commanding general to the necessity of closely guarding the negroes taken from the James River side. They have been constantly in communication with the enemy, and evinced the strongest dislike to being taken.
Whilst in position yesterday the enemy moved out of Hampton in considerable force, leading me to believe that perhaps they contemplated an attack on my command. They passed on to Newport News, although they were well aware that Colonel Hood's command was scattered through the Back River country; some of them had fired upon the vedettes. Reports have reached me that troops have embarked at Newport News yesterday. I do not accredit this. I am rather of the opinion that Newport News has been re-enforced from Hampton. I would also report that I have duly consulted with Colonel Hood and Captain Phillips, as directed, and with other intelligent officers, as to the propriety of destroying the telegraph between Hampton and Newport News, and have decided that the risk attending the execution with a large force would be too great for the benefit that would be derived from its destruction. It is considered that the position of the force would be extremely hazardous, as it would be between Hampton, Newport News, and Fortress [Monroe]; have but one road to retreat by if forced to retire; and that it would be particularly hazardous, as it would be scattered over a considerable distance at all times whilst executing the order.
A small party can destroy the communication by telegraph at any time that it may be deemed proper to make a demonstration against either end of it. If destroyed now, it would be reconstructed, and so guarded as to render a nocturnal communication with Hampton more difficult than it is now.
I have not been able to gain any information as to the number and the whereabouts of the surf-boats. I am under the impression that these boats cannot be destroyed without passing through the whole of the enemy's lines; and impossibility. This opinion is formed from conversations with officers of my command intimately acquainted with all the localities in the far end of the Peninsula.
I have the honor to inclose a report furnished me by Surg. G. W. Semple this morning. I would earnestly request that it be considered at once by the general commanding. Commanding officers of battalions are constantly reporting additional cases of sickness in their commands.
I sent all the spades and axes to Yorktown this morning that could