the withdrawal of Colonel Baker's pickets on my right, thereby preventing any communication on the Charles City road between Colonel Baker's pickets and mine, besides exposing my right entirely to approach of the enemy in case Colonel Baker should fall back, of which I could have had no information in time. I immediately, upon reception of the above information, ordered Captain W. B. Clement, commanding the picket post, to draw in his pickets on the left to the junction of the Long Bridge with Charles City (sometimes called Quaker) roads; also to picket what is called the Turner road, a cross-road leading from Long Bridge road to White Oak Swamp Bridge, and to extend his line on Charles City [road] farther to my right to guard against surprise in that direction; to be so picketed as readily to communicate one with another, thus in the speediest possible time giving information to the reserve, which was at the bridge a short distance this side, so as to be under cover of the woods, it not being practicable on the opposite side.
Between 9 and 10 o'clock, upon my return from visiting a portion of my picket lines, I suggested to Captain Clement the propriety of loosening a few of the poles on the bridge, so that in case of an advance by cavalry, at shortest possible notice, to tear up a portion of the bridge, so as top check and throw in confusion the advance column, while the men in ambush would open upon them. All of the orders, according to Captain Clement's report, seem to have been obeyed, as the following report, mainly furnished by Captain Clement, will show:
The orderly sergeant, with 9 men, superintended by Captain Clement, dismounted to loosen the logs of the bridge. They had barely commenced before pickets reported enemy advancing upon Turner's and Dr. Perman's roads. Captain Clement ordered courier to return and watch movements, and stated he would be with him in a moment. Before getting on his horse, some 50 yards distant, when receiving the above information, he, Captain Clement, heard firing, accompanied with a yell, and saw the pickets fleeing from the hill, closely pursued by the enemy's cavalry. This body of cavalry approached under cover of the woods, leaving the road and hugging close to the swamp until within a short distance of the bridge. The pickets were watching the advance of another body of the enemy, and came very near being cut off from the bridge before seeing the approach of the second body. Captain Clement attempted to check the column by ordering his men forward and meeting them, but soon saw the impracticability of this move, as the enemy was nearer the bridge than he. The men were drawn up by the side of the road and ordered to reserve their fire until the head of the column approached very near, hoping thereby to check the column and give time to the men on foot to mount. The men stood firm amid the fire of the enemy, and did not fire until ordered, which was not given until they were in 15 yards of the picket. Unfortunately most of our guns failed fire from having been exposed twenty-four hours on picket duty, as well as caps being indifferent. Captain Clement ordered his men to fall back through the swamp, it being the only mode of escape. Captains Clement's and Caskie's companies were on picket in the skirmish.
Captain Clement lost 6 men and 8 horses, supposed to have been captured. Lieutenant Doyle, of Captain Caskie's company, having absented himself from camp since the skirmish, I cannot be positive as to the exact number missing in his company.
They report 4 missing, making 10 in all; 3 of the 10 are reported wounded. How many of the enemy were killed we cannot tell. Several saddles were emptied and 5 horses killed.
One hundred men were dismounted and in ambush this side of the swamp; the rest of the regiment drawn up in protecting distance. Seven pieces [of] artillery [and] not less than 1,500 cavalry could be seen on the opposite hill, in addition to which I have since learned there was a large body of infantry also. I held my position on this side of the bridge all day, the enemy maintaining his on the opposite side, about 1,200 yards distant. Moved off in [the] night, leaving a few pickets only, which could be seen next morning.
On [the] 6th I scouted on [the] opposite side of the swamp some 4 or 5 miles, capturing eight prisoners.
61 R R-VOL XI, PT II