No. 2. Report of Lieutenant Colonel A. S. M. Morgan, Sixty-third Pennsylvania Infantry.
CAMP JOHNSTON, March 7, 1862.
SIR: I left the line of our pickets about 3.30 o'clock in the morning of March 5, in command of a detachment of about 50 men, including three commissioned officers, going out the Telegraph road, to carry out the plan arranged after consultation with yourself and the guide Williamson, that I should take possession of the road, leading from Violet's to Colchester, by which the parties of rebels were believed to come who had been seen on the hills opposite the left of our line. On reaching the point where the road alluded to leaves the Telegraph road, and finding that there was no opportunity to keep the men concealed beyond the fork of the road, I took them into the Colchester road, and placed them in ambush along that road in the bushes which are between them. Captains Chapman and McHenry were lying near me in a narrow cleared piece of ground, which runs from one road to the other, and just at the head of my command, the head being towards the forks of the road.
A little before day I heard the footsteps of one man approaching us. I thought at first that it was the guide Williamson, who had disappeared, moving down the open space towards the lower road immediately after we took the position, and when he had been inquired after no one of the officers knew where he was, but in a few seconds heard a body of men coming, and soon saw that they were passing down the Telegraph road, which is considerably lower in level than the Colchester road. It was too late to change my position, which had been taken in order to see the upper road, and I could just see the outline of men, not sufficiently to see whether or not they were armed. I could not have said that they were not men of our own regiment, through I believed them to be rebels. The uncertainty as to their character, and the fear that I could not swing my left around in time so that I could have any advantage in the attack, caused me to think that I had better avoid the risk of an attack when I found they were passing by without observing us.
As soon as it commenced to get somewhat light we started to return by the road we went, as I did not think it prudent to risk an attack with another body which might pass along when a body of the enemy was now known to be between us and our lines. The guide Williamson, who appeared just after they were past, reported them rebels, and that he estimated them to be 30 in number. In returning I sent a sergeant and 4 men in advance to see that the road was entirely clear of any enemy, Captain Chapman, Quartermaster Lysle, Williamson, and myself walking a little in front of the main body. The advance guard proceeded very cautiously, several times motioning us to stop and then to come on. Captain Chapman and Lieutenant Lysle gradually moved forward until they got half way between the two parties. When the guard reached a run a mile from the lines they stopped, motioning to us to stop. The two officers above named went on and joined them. They all soon moved in together. We crossed the run, and soon after again stopped on seeing them appear to suspect, something wrong, in a dense thicket, which runs close up to the road and commencing about 125 yards from the run.
The advance guard stopped just before they got opposite the thicket. The two officers who were with it moved slowly in. Captain Chapman