I deemed it necessary to send out a scout to ascertain if there was any truth in these statements. Accordingly a squadron, composed of Companies L and M, numbering 84 men, and commanded by Captain Faith, was sent out with instructions to take the road leading to Walker's Mill to the right at the Richmond road picket post, and from Walker's Mill to proceed to Six Mile Ordinary, and then return to camp via the Richmond road; in the event of meeting with the enemy's patrol, as previously mentioned, to capture them if possible.
I have been informed that Captain Faith proceeded as far as Six Mile Ordinary without discovering any trace of the enemy. He then ordered his advance guard to proceed 300 or 400 yards beyond, on the Richmond road, and halt. This the advance guard proceeded to do, when they discovered a small patrol in their front. The lieutenant commanding advance guard sent back to Captain Faith for orders. Captain Faith, in violation of orders received from me, ordered the lieutenant to charge and capture them if possible, and that he would support him.
The enemy fled on the approach of our men, and after being pursue for 2 miles they took a road leading to the right, our advance guard in hot pursuit. At this point Captain Faith threw out another advance guard, upon the direct road, endeavoring to cut off the enemy's retreat. Another body of rebels, being either infantry or dismounted cavalry, and secluded by a ravine along this part of the road, allowed our advance guard to pass them, and as the column was passing poured into them two or three volleys, emptying about twenty saddles. At the same time a small body came out of the woods and charged the rear of the column, throwing our main body into confusion, and owing to the unexpectedness of this fierce attack they could not be rallied until they had retreated to Six Mile Ordinary, a distance of from 2 to 3 miles. here they rallied, charged, and dispersed the pursuing enemy; but in consequence of their horses being completely worn-out they were unable to take advantage of the change in our favor.
The number missing at present is 5 officers and 33 men some of the latter are supposed to be in the woods, their horses having been shot and disabled. The enemy's loss, so far as I can ascertain, appears to be 5 killed and 15 wounded.
Immediately on hearing the firing I ordered out one battalion under Major McCandless to support Captain Faith. On reaching Williamsburg they met the retiring party and there halted for further orders. In the mean time you had arrived in camp and resumed command.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commanding Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY,
Yorktown, February 9, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded to Major-General Dix, commanding department.
Captain Faith, who commanded the scouting party, is wounded in the face and speaks with difficulty.
The reconnaissance was not conducted properly, and was in violation of my general instructions. Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, commanding