I was fifty-three hours in the saddle before I met with the accident. I broke down one horse, and Captain Jayne presented me with a captured horse secured while were taking prisoners. The gift from him is held by me subject to your approval or your order.
I make this report thus full for two reasons; 1st. That you may know the manner in which I executed your order. 2nd. That my regiment may know officially that in their trials on marching and on their entrance into the fight I was not willingly absent from them. You, who know, can do justice to my actions. I desire you to do so, and oblige one who rejoices that through your exertions great glory has been reflected upon Mississippi arms.
Lieutenant Colonel and Field Officer of the Day.
General N. G. EVANS,
Commanding Seventh Brigade, First Corps, Army of the Potomac.
Numbers 28. Report of Captain W. L. Duff, Seventeenth Mississippi Infantry.
CAMP AT CARTER'S MILL, VA., October 25, 1861.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the action near Big Spring on the morning of the 21st instant; We had, as you are aware, been on detached service since August 24, having pickets at Stuart's Mill, Conrad's Ferry, Ball's Mill, and Mrs. Mason's Island. Early on the morning of the 21st our pickets were fired upon and driven in by the enemy. They reported the enemy crossing opposite Harrison's Island at the Big Bluff. On receiving this intelligence I ordered Lieutenant Harten to report these facts to General Evans, and immediately formed my company and marched in the direction of Stuart's Mill, where my pickets had been driven in. On reaching the mouth of the lane leading to the river, some 500 or 600 yards from the mill, I threw forward twelve skirmishers to scour out a clump of woods to the front and right, ordered one of my men to bring in the rest of my pickets, filed my company to the right up a long hollow in an old field, leaving the clump of woods on my left. When we reached the top of the hill near Mrs. Stephens' house we saw the skirmishers of the enemy on the left, and in large in Mrs. Jackson's yard, some 150 yards in front. I filed to the right, for the purpose of getting between them and Leesburgh, and formed a line of battle.
The enemy threw forward a strong force in line of battle. I having but 40 men in line thought it best to draw him as far as possible from his reserve. I accordingly fell back on the foot of the hill, some 300 yards from his reserve, and in the direction of Leesburg. He advanced in line of battle in good order at a "make ready," his force amounting to at least five or six companies. I halted my company and ordered the enemy to halt five or six times. He responded each time, "Friends," but continued to advance within 60 yards, when I ordered my men to kneel and fire, which they did with deadly effect, completely breaking his line. The second time he fell back, but getting re-enforcements from