The brigade, composed of the [First] Regiment of Cavalry, Colonel E. Gates commanding; the First [Second] Regiment of Infantry, Colonel J. Q. Burbridge; the Second [Third] Regiment of Infantry, Colonel B. A. Rives, and Captains Wade's and Clark's batteries marched from the bivouac at Elm Springs early on the morning of March 6, and proceeded on the road to Bentonville.
In compliance with orders issued from headquarters on the previous evening, Colonel Gates' regiment of cavalry led the advance of the whole army. On reaching Bentonville the smoke of burning stores and dwellings indicated the presence of the enemy, whose rear guard abandoned the town as Colonel Gates' cavalry entered. From information subsequently received it is believed that this body of troops was General Sigel's division, numbering from 5,000 to 7,000 men. Colonel Gates, pressing upon the retreating enemy, engaged their rear guard at a short distance beyond the town, on the Springfield road. Here, besides the capture of several prisoners and a baggage wagon laden with arms and ammunition, our cavalry killed and wounded several of the enemy and compelled the main body of the enemy to continue their retreat, pursuing them until dark.
The other regiments of the brigade, occupying their respective position in the line, came into camp late in the afternoon and proceeded immediately to prepare, supper, having received orders to resume the line of march at 8 o'clock on the same evening. Colonel Gates' cavalry having rejoined the brigade, the First [Second] Regiment, under Colonel Burbridge, was detailed for the advance.
At 8 o'clock our line of march was resumed and continued all night. Once about midnight and again towards morning our progress was checked by an ex tempore blockade of the road, the enemy having felled the tiber behind him as he retreated.
By 6. a. m. on the 7th we had cleared the road of every impediment, and by 8 o'clock we reached and secured possession of the Telegraph road at a point about half a mile to the north of the enemy's position, thereby cutting off his retreat.
Their First [Second] Infantry, being at the head of our column, was now ordered to advance in line by the hill-side to the right of the road, the Second Brigade, under General Slack, following; Gates' cavalry next defiled by the left up the face of the hill afterwards occupied by our artillery. Here the cavalry made a prize of several forage wagons, returning laden to the camp of the enemy. In compliance with orders I then advanced by the same road with the remaining portion of my command. The Second [Third] Infantry I placed in position as reserve on the hill to the left of the road, and shortly afterwards summoned up the two batteries, under command of Captains Wade and Clark, which were immediately placed imposition, with some other batteries already engaged in replying to the heavy directed from the enemy's artillery, along the line of the Telegraph road. For more than an hour our guns played upon the enemy's batteries with such spirit and effectiveness as to silence their fire. Colonel Gates, with his cavalry, then charged the height, supported by River's regiment of infantry.
On reaching the ground our cavalry received a heavy discharge of small-arms from three regiments of the enemy's infantry in position. Returning the fire, our cavalry prudently fell back before superior numbers, and, dismounting, they formed on the left of Colonel Rives' regiment. The enemy, in turn, advanced against our lines, but were received by Colonel Rives' regiment with a heavy fire and repulsed with considerable loss. A second time the enemy charged our lines