lished pickets at all commanding positions to watch and report the movements of the enemy. I instructed the telegraph operator attached to my command to try and open communication with Warrenton Junction. I handed him the following dispatch:
Colonel T. C. H. SMITH,
Aide-de-Camp to General Pope:
Have proceeded to near Bristoe Station. Find a train of cars burning and telegraph wires broken, and enemy in very heavy force. Do not deem it prudent to go on without further orders. Have conductor of burned train with me, who reports there being a large force of the enemy. Have returned to this side of Kettle Run Bridge.
I ordered three companies into position at the bridge, with instructions to hold it at all hazards, keeping the balance of my command in reserve 300 yards below the bridge. I personally examined the bridge with reference to holding it. I found it had no natural advantages for defense; in fact, they were all against us. The rebel skirmishers were rapidly advancing on both sides of the road, followed by a large force, all in plain view. I had seen the cavalry on the right and the infantry movement on our left for three-quarters of an hour. All the reply the telegraph operator could get to his call was "Wait a little." I could not consent to the useless sacrifice of my brave 300 men. I ordered the three companies at the bridge to move back, which they did in perfect order, under the fire of the enemy's skirmishers. I waited for the stragglers and the last of two companies of the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania, there on picket. Three of the men were so closely followed that they were taken prisoners.
I had only ordered the engineer to move back, when the enemy unmasked a field piece they had brought down near the bridge on the track, covered by a column of troops. The first two shots ricochetted within 20 or 30 yards from the engine. I joined the brigade at 5 a. m. with the whole of my command and reported.
I submit that I did the best my judgment seemed to require-I confess at a great sacrifice to my pride. I trust subsequent events satisfy you that I did all duty required. The regiment behaved in its usual praiseworthy manner, and I enjoyed the full co-operation of all the officers. I must speak especially of the valuable assistance rendered me by Adjt. HK. C. Hinman.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. J. BLISS,
Captain, Commanding Regiment.
Colonel NELSON TAYLOR,
Commanding Second Brigade, Hooker's Division.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD REGIMENT,
Camp near Spring Hill, September 6, 1862.
I have the honor to report that the Third Excelsior, of your brigade, under my command, on the 29th of August, took the position assigned on the right of the brigade line, and advanced into the timber, where a portion of our forces were already engaged with the enemy. My instructions were to halt behind the line engaged, and when their ammunition was exhausted take their place. I advanced skirmishers covering my whole front to this line and dressed my regiment accurately