As my command neared the wood I found the nature of the ground would not permit a charge; beside, I discovered the wood to be so dense that it would be impossible for cavalry to act efficiently. At this moment I ordered a halt, discovering which the enemy endeavored, with some 40 or 50 dismounted men or infantry, to flank our skirmishers and gain their rear, under cover of the wood on the right of the road. Inasmuch as I had but 20 carbines in the entire command, and as our pistols were altogether too short-range to cope with our adversaries with long rifles, with which all of them were armed, and as they nearly if not quite equaled us in numbers, I deemed it prudent to retire across the bridge, which was admirably executed by the officers and men of both companies in precisely the same order in which they advanced.
Upon reaching my reserve a messenger arrived from the rear guard informing me that the enemy had thrown a body of cavalry to my left and rear, to intercept my return to Bentonville. Upon learning this I ordered a retrograde movement to Bentonville. On reaching that place I learned through a citizen that the enemy's force in and around Milford was estimated to be about 300 mounted men, said to be part of a Louisiana mounted rifle regiment. The enemy were armed with pistol, saber, and rifle. After remaining a few minutes at Bentonville I proceeded on my return to the Manor Line road. Being desirous of discovering whether the enemy had any force at Boyd's Mill, I proceeded on that road to that point. Marshall's company, which had been in that vicinity, and which had been encamped there as recently as Sunday last, was not to be seen, but I was Informed by the citizens that they might return at any moment.
The horses of the command being very much jaded I found it necessary to return to camp, having been twelve hours in the saddle. I learned nothing of the enemy's force at Luray. I would respectfully represent that, owing to the topography of the country and the character of the force with which we had to contend, armed as our regiment is with only pistol and saber, barring the few carbines already mentioned, it is next to impossible to encounter our foes successfully, as he is never in position where saber and piston can be used.
It gives me pleasure to report that the officers and men of both detachments behaved with great coolness and bravery during the encounter.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. H. TOWN,
Major. Commanding Detachment.
Brigadier General S. W. CRAWFORD,
Commanding First Brigade.