had left or in case they appeared to be between the Saint Sebastian and North Rivers, I crossed the Saint Sebastian at the bridge opposite Saint Augustine at about 1.30 p. m. yesterday with detachments of Companies B, D, and F, making in all about 120 men, and proceeded at once along the Palatka road toward Fort Peyton, the road running in a southwesterly direction up the left bank of the Matanzas River and from 2 to 3 miles distant from it.
When within about 3 miles of Fort Peyton (Bartols Masters' place) 2 horsemen were seen in the road and were challenged by our advance guard, but refused to halt and were beyond the range of their rifles. A little more than a mile north of Fort Peyton I sent a sergeant and 4 men to reconnoiter about a house plainly observable through the pine woods on the right and apparently not much more than a quarter of a mile distant, with instructions to report immediately. This house, I afterward learned, was occupied by a man named Carrero. About half a mile north of Fort Peyton the advanced guard came upon the enemy's pickets and fired upon them. Upon hearing the firing I ordered Lieutenant Taylor, of Company B, to advance with 10 men as skirmishers, which was promptly done, while the remainder of the detachment continued to advance. Coming upon a small creek, crossed by a bridge, a few rods beyond where the firing commenced, the skirmishers crossed and deployed on the other side. The skirmishers, in the mean time, were concealed from the main body by a thick growth of trees and bushes.
Crossing the bridge at double-quick with the main detachment, ascending a slight elevation and forming in line, I discovered that the firing was between our skirmishers and those of the enemy a little to the left and in advance of our front. I then ordered Captain Mason, of Company B, to advance in the direction of the firing, while I, with Companies F and D, bore to the right upon Master's house, thinking the main body of the enemy either in or around it. Upon halting at the house we found no one there excepting John Mauncy and Bartols Masters, with their families, none of whom would give any information respecting the main body of the enemy, but told me that 2 wagons belonging to them had left on the Palatka road, about half an hour before, rapidly. The skirmishers of the enemy having now disappeared I recalled Company B and recrossed the creek, intending to go up the Saint Sebastian in pursuit of the main body.
In the mean time the men whom I had sent toward Carrero's house had not reported, and on arriving opposite the house I sent a corporal and 5 men to ascertain the reason. They returned, bringing with them Carrero himself, who stated that the first party had been intercepted by Dickison's (rebel) horsemen, numbering about 80 men, and had been captured. From his statement it appeared evident that the main body of the enemy had seen us as we passed toward Fort Peyton, heard the firing, and retreated hastily toward Palatka.
Deeming farther pursuit useless, I returned to a point near the Saint Sebastian bridge, and according to orders reported to you, and pursuant to subsequent orders recrossed into the town.
I am, colonel, very respectfully,
JOSEPH C. ABBOTT,
Lieutenant-Colonel Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers.
Colonel H. S. PUTNAM,
Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers.
15 R R-VOL XIV