who was dismounted behind the house raised his carbine to his shoulder he remarked, "I wish I had my old rifle here," and simultaneously with the remark he fired, and one of the cavalry was seen to drop from his horse. During all this time the enemy kept up a desultory fire from the rifle-pits, and fearing that the enemy might be maneuvering to outflank us, I ordered the men to cease firing, and we started on our way home.
It gives me great pleasure to be able to state here that during the whole affair the officers and men under my command behaved with the most admirable coolness, standing where the enemy's bullets whistled all around them and aiming their pieces in a calm and determined manner, and it was with great reluctance that they left the field. On our return the enemy followed us up at a respectful distance, firing on our rear guard as they advanced. Our men returned the fire, and the enemy soon abandoned the pursuit.
We returned on the Little River turnpike as far as Hayne's house, when we took the left-hand road leading to Mills' Cross-roads, and from thence on the Fairfax road to Falls Church. When on this road about a mile from Mills' Cross-Roads we were challenged by the advance guard of the Twentieth [Thirty-first] New York Volunteers (Colonel Pratt), who mistook us for rebel cavalry, as a lot of cavalry had been seen on the hills reconnoitering in the neighborhood all day. The officers of this regiment showed they understood their duty, and it would be well for our service if all our outposts exercised the same vigilance. We met no further obstructions, and reached camp about 5 o'clock p.m., having been in the saddle from 9 o'clock a.m.
There ought to be signals adopted, so that outposts and patrols may be enabled to recognize each other, and thus avoid very unpleasant suspicions and more frequent accidents.
It is my opinion that if a squadron of cavalry were allowed to bivouac out overnight some prisoners might be captured, as the enemy's cavalry, in squads of about a dozen, are in the habit of patrolling along the road early in the morning and late in the evening. A few companies of infantry, a section of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry might dislodge the enemy from Fairfax Court-House. The roads from here to Fairfax Court-House are excellent for all arms of the service.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
WM. H . BOYD,
Captain, First N. Y. Volunteer Cavalry, late Lincoln Cavalry.
Captain E. SPARROW PURDY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Alexandria Division.
HEADQUARTERS CAMP, November 28, 1861.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Commanding General. In my opinion the actions of Captain Boyd were characterized by coolness and discretion. The regiment to which he belongs has nothing to show that it belongs to the United States-no guidons or colors of any kind-although the proper requisitions have been made over and over again.
W. B. FRANKLIN,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division..