At about half way between the Zouave camp and the point of disembarkation of our troops we encountered two companies of United States regulars, which had passed us under cover of the darkness, and posted themselves behind a dense thicket to intercept our retiring column, and a very sharp but short skirmish ensued. The enemy was speedily driven off, and our troops resumed their march. the re-embarkation was successfully accomplished, and the order given to the steamers to steer for Pensacola, when it was discovered that a hawser had become entailed in the propeller of the Neaffie, and that she could not move.
After some delay, from ineffectual attempts to extricate the propeller, she and the large flat which she had in tow were made fast to the Ewing. It was soon found, however, that with this incumbrance the Ewing would not obey her helm, and that a change in the manner of towing the Neaffie was necessary. While attempting to make this change the flats and barges which the Ewing had in tow became detached from her, and still further delay was occasion din recovering them. By the time this had been done the hawser was cut away from the propeller, and the Neaffie proceeded on her way. The enemy, taking advantage of these circumstances, appeared among the sand hills near the beach, and opened a fire upon the masses of our troops densely crowded upon our transports, but without doing much execution, and we were soon out of range of their rifles. The necessity of using the Neaffie as a tug and the accident which for some time disabled her prevented her guns from being brought into play, otherwise she might have rendered effectual service in driving back the enemy who harassed us from the beach.
Our loss in this affair was as follows: Killed, 2 commissioned officers, 4 non-commissioned officers, 11 privated, and 1 citizen volunteer; wounded, 2 commissioned officers, 5 non-commissioned officers, and 32 privates; taken prisoners, 5 commissioned officers, 2 non-commissioned officers, and 23 privates. The larger portion of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates captured by the enemy were the guard left for the protection of their hospital and sick and the medical officers who had remained in the building to attend to such of our wounded as might be carried there. Notwithstanding that I caused the signal for retiring to be repeatedly sounded during the return of the troops it was not heard at the hospital, and the guard and medical officers were cut off and taken prisoners.
The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded has not been precisely ascertained, but is certainly known to have much exceeded our own. From such imperfect observation as I made in passing over parts of the ground I will estimate his loss at 50 or 60 killed and 100 wounded. Twenty prisoners were taken, among them Major Israel Vogdes, of the United States artillery.
The destruction of property in the conflagration was very great. Large stores of provisions, supplies of clothing, camp and garrison equipage, arms, and ammunition were entirely consumed. Some arms were brought away by our men, and in a few instances money and clothing, as will be seen by the report of Colonel Jackson, and I would respectfully recommend that the captors be permitted to retain whatever private property they have taken.
It is with pride and pleasure that I bear testimony to and call to the notice of the general commanding the admirable conduct of the troops throughout the expedition and conflict. The alacrity, courage, and discipline exhibited by them merit the highest commendation, and give assurance of success in any future encounters which they may have with the enemies of our country.