Determined if possible to have the hill, I led forward the Second Battalion of the Harris Light Cavalry, with Captain McIrwin's company in advance. We charged up the hill within 25 yards of the barricades, when they poured upon my column a galling fire, when the companies retreated. I finally rallied them, but as I knew nothing of the enemy's force, except that both infantry and cavalry were in my front, stationed behind the impediments placed in the road, and as from the heaviness of the fire it appeared to be quite a heavy force, I decide to withdraw my command. To Lieutenant-Colonel Kilpatrick, with his battalion, I gave the post of rear guard, with orders to cover my retreat, and to his coolness and good judgment I am much indebted, and he speaks in the highest terms of Major Davies, commanding that battalion, for his good conduct.
I dispatched Lieutenant Thomas, my adjutant, to the general at once to inform him of what had taken place. The enemy made no pursuit, and I withdrew the companies into an open field beyond a pine forest and awaited further orders. When orders came for me to watch the enemy I threw out a squadron of the Harris Light Cavalry for that purpose, who shortly reported the advance of our skirmishers, when I pushed forward as rapidly as possible and soon joined the column.
I inclose the reports of the adjutant of the Harris Light Cavalry and my own surgeon of the casualties among the men; and that our loss has been so small we must attribute to the inaccuracy of their fire. Colonel Jones' loss is 3 killed and 9 wounded, and Colonel Kilpatrick's 4 killed and 7 wounded. My loss in horses has been heavy, the battalion of my own regiment having 11 horses killed and 6 disabled, while the battalion of the Harris Horse which I led in the fire probably lost as many, but I have no report of that. My own horse was badly injured by two or three bullets.
To Lieutenant-Colonels Kilpatrick and Jones I must return my thanks for their coolness and valuable aid throughout the affair.
Captain A. Davidson, of Company F, First Pennsylvania Cavalry, was taken prisoner by the enemy, but succeeded in capturing his guard and bringing him into camp in turn. He led his company dashingly into the trap which had been laid for us, and I would call the attention of the general to his gallant behavior.
Captain Richards, of Company M, of same regiment, behaved throughout most gallantly.
Both Lieutenants Leaf and Sample, of his company, were hurt, and the latter's horse killed in the melee.
I regret, sir, my failure to secure the bridge, but there was too strong a force of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, as I have since learned, for me ever to have succeeded with cavalry alone.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. D. BAYARD,
Colonel First Pennsylvania Cavalry, Commanding.
Assistant Adjutant-General, General Augur's Brigade.
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
April 20, 1862.
The object of this expedition was to attempt to surprise the enemy and save the bridge at Falmouth. Colonel Bayard, finding the enemy well