Berne. With his usual alacrity Colonel [P. G.] Evans, [Sixty-third North Carolina Troops, or Fifth Cavalry], who is perfectly acquainted with that neighborhood, volunteered to command it and selected Captain [E. F.] Shaw's squadron. With the remainder of my command I moved on toward Sheppardsville, reaching Peletier's Mill, 20 odd miles distant, before sunset. After gaining from reliable sources all the information I could relative to the enemy's strength, position, &c., I made arrangements to attack Sheppardsville early next day (Sunday), or at least to occupy the enemy's attention at that point while Colonel Ferebee, who promptly offered his services for the purpose, would destroy the railroad above Newport Creek, taking the left-hand road beyond Kennedy's Mill. During the night official dispatches were received, both from the major-general commanding and from Colonel Evans, whose contents induced me to abandon my plan. By reference to the map you will perceive that I had reached a point 25 or 30 miles in front of Smith's Mill, on White Oak, following the only road by which it was possible for me to return.
Colonel Evans having been compelled to fall back over Mill Creek my position was by no means desirable, since in the event of the enemy's advance to the fork of the road at Smith's Mill I should have been forced to cut my way through or swim the White Oak at Swansborough. Some time before day Lieutenant Wiley's party returned and reported they had torn up the railroad track at a point 3 miles above Sheppardsville. From the proximity of the enemy's forces they were compelled to wait until after night to commence operations. I was highly gratified with the promptness and efficiency displayed by Lieutenant Wiley and party.
Colonel Evans had not advanced more than 6 or 7 miles beyond Mill Creek before he encountered a large force of the enemy's cavalry, with which he skirmished awhile, resulting in the loss of one horse killed on our side and disabling one of the enemy's. The colonel then ordered a charge, but the road was in such condition that the horses mired down and two men were dismounted. The shouting, however, had the effect of routing the Yankees, but the colonel did not deem it prudent to pursue, as his rear was much exposed. A prisoner whom we captured reported a large force in that vicinity, as did also a loyal citizen.
Colonel Evans speaks in the highest terms of the coolness and gallantry of Captain Shaw and Lieutenant John C. Hines, of Company C. He also mentions the good conduct of Sergt. Lewis H. Darden, whose horse was killed under him; Privates Thomas O. Bunting, Richard H. Lee, Charles Butler, Thomas M. Ferrill, Walter, J. Moore, George M. Tatum, George Vaun, Cornelius Timothy, Isaac W. Grist, and Corpl. W. F. Culbreth, all of whom volunteered to go to the front and watch the enemy.
I am pleased to state that my whole command during the march continued in excellent spirits despite the weather, and seemed anxious to engage the foe. My movements were seriously interrupted and impeded by the scarcity of forage, of which there is not sufficient to supply the wants of the few citizens remaining in those counties.
I am greatly in need of a good battery, and respectfully ask that one be ordered to me without delay.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. H. ROBERTSON,
Major ARCHER ANDERSON,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Dept. of N. C., Goldsborough.