time to save either of the bridges. All accounts agree in representing the bridges as being for several days prepared for burning, by having the cribs filled with light-wood and tar and shavings. These were lighted about half an hour before we came in sight of them, and after the enemy's forces on this side the Rappahannock had passed over. We could see a light battery, a regiment of cavalry, and one of infantry going to the rear as we arrived.
Our march has not been without incident. We came upon the firs of the enemy's pickets about 18 miles from Catlett's Station, and were only defeated in capturing it by a little girl from a neighboring house discovering our men creeping through the woods and signaling them to the picket. I at the same time learned from some negroes and others that there was a camp of four companies of their cavalry near the Brick Church, about 5 miles from this place, and that a quantity of forage had just been sent there for their use. Although it would make my march a very long one, I determined, as they would learn from their driven-in pickets that we were on the road, to make an attempt to engage them at their camp, and, if practicable, to follow them immediately to Falmouth and try and save the bridges. I organized the light column as was suggested, and leaving Colonel Sullivan in command of the main body, pushed on. On arriving near their camp I directed the Harris Light Cavalry and one battalion of Bayard's Pennsylvania cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Kilpatrick, to move rapidly forward and attack. This was handsomely done, and the camp and its forage and a few horses captured.
I regret to have to report that Lieutenant Decker, of the Harris Light Cavalry, was killed in the charge. The enemy's cavalry fell back about a mile upon a body of infantry. It being now quite dark, and the command very much fatigued by its long march of 26 miles, I determined to halt them some hours.
Some negroes taken in camp reported that an ambuscade had been prepared for us 2 miles in advance. Shortly after a citizen living in the vicinity came into my camp from Falmouth and reported the same thing, and that he had not been permitted to come up the main road, but had reached us by a by-road, on which there were no pickets, and which came into the main road near Falmouth, some 2 miles beyond the point to which they were reported as lying. He said he had left Falmouth just before sunset; that the bridge was prepared, as stated, for burning, and that he would conduct a command by the by-road and enable it to reach and save the bridge, and get in rear of the enemy at same time. I was satisfied from the reports of the negroes and from other evidence that he was a good Union man, and that it was advisable to venture the attempt, as I knew the desire of the general commanding the department to save this bridge.
I intrusted this enterprise to Colonel Bayard, of the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had one battalion of his regiment and two battalions of Harris Light Cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Kilpatrick. He left me at 2 a. m. this morning. Unfortunately the enemy in the mean time changed his point of ambuscade to just beyond where the by-road entered the main road, where the command received a volley of about 200 infantry on the watch for them, and were then charged on by cavalry. The road had been barricaded, too, which prevented their farther advance. They wheeled and charged upon the infantry, killing and wounding several (the exact number not known) and capturing 1 man. Colonel Bayard extricated his command with a loss of 5 killed and 16 wounded and a loss of some 15 horses. Thus disappointed in