went on the Somerton road and General Dodge ion the Edenton. I accompanied the latter. He crossed over to the Somerton and met the force under Colonel Foster at Leesville; we advanced some distance farther, and as it was then apparent that the enemy were beyond reach I ordered the troops to return, except a few cavalry left for the purpose of picking up the enemy's stragglers. On the march we captured a large number of prisoners, arms, &c.
From the commencement of the affair the officers and ment evinced the most commendable disposition to do their whole duty, always on the alert and ever ready to obey all commands of their superior officers.
The works, which at the beginning were unfinished, by unceasing exertions were soon completed, while other works of defense were soon completed, while other works of defense were also as rapidly and cheerfully erected. The woods in front were cleared to a great extent by slashing parties, who were at work at times night and day. The pickets maintained their ground, except upon two or three occasions when they were forced to retire by overpowering numbers, and deserve great praise for their courage and vigilance; in fact the desire exhibited by the troops to meet the enemy either inside or outside the works gave undoubted assurance that the enemy would have been encountered, had he attempted to carry out his intention of attacking this place, with as courageous and determined a resistance as could possibly be made by gallant men. I feel called upon to state that I was ably assisted through the whole time by General Dodge and Colonel Foster, who respectively, commanded portions of my front, and that they were always at the post of duty and carried out their instructions upon all occasions promptly and cheerfully. I send their reports herewith.
I remain, major, your most obedient servant,
Major B. B. FOSTER,
Fairfax Court-House, Va., December 14, 1863.
MAJOR: I beg leave to state that I understand I inadvertently omitted to give in my report of the operations of Suffolk, Va., an estimate as to the probable strength of the enemy during the investment, and therefore request that the following supplement may be appended to said report:
From information received from deserters the strength of Longstreet's forces at his approach ranged between 32,000 to 45,000, none under the former, which was corroborated by the statement of a man claiming to have been in the commissary department who reported that 34,000 rations had been issued at the Blackwater when Longstreet was preparing to cross.
During the first three days not less then 40 prisoners and deserters were examined, whose statements convinced me that the strength of the enemy at that time was not less than 32,000. The deserters from Pickett's division established the fact that may of the regiments had just been filled up to 900 men; some wee very weak, but the average seems to have been about 500.
Many of the deserters had run great risks to reach our lines, and, being either of Northern birth or Irishmen, were anxious to give accurate information.