50 rods, passing over the same ground which our skirmishers had previously gone over. The cavalry had gone but a short distance, when the enemy, who had suddenly returned, opened fire upon them, killing 1 and wounding 2 of their number. Lieutenant McDevitt opened upon them at once and shelled them back toward Everett's Bridge.
The column was delayed at this point about half an hour, but there being no sings of the enemy's returning I advanced the skirmishers rapidly on the Reed's Ferry road, and again set the column in motion.
Our march was necessarily slow, owing to the thick underbrush through which the skirmishers were obliged to make their way. On approaching the West Branch we again discovered the enemy's pickets. The skirmishers, under Captain Spittle, Captain Shepard, and Captain Belden, advanced gallantly and were soon engaged. The artillery was moved up with supports and opened fire at once, commanding the opposite bank of the creek, where the enemy had two companies of sharpshooters as a support. The skirmish at this point was short and spirited, resulting in our capturing 1 lieutenant, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, and 10 privates of the enemy. Our loss was 3 wounded, 1 of whom died some two hours afterward as were without surgical aid.
We encamped Sunday night on the Nansemond, near the ferry, and under protection of the gunboats. On the next morning Captain Spittle was sent out with Companies A and K to reconnoiter, and returned, bringing 2 deserters, who were dispatched to the general commanding. He further reported that the enemy, on the opposite side of the West Branch from us, commenced their retreat on the evening previous at 8 o'clock, and that the most of their forces had retired before midnight, burning behind them the bridge at Page's Mill.
I am under great obligations to Flag-Officer Captain Cushing and also to Captain Lamson. Acting Master's Mate Lawrence rendered me great assistance in giving information where to post the artillery so as to be of service to our troops engaged with the enemy on the other side of the creek, and also took quite an active part in the skirmish. My thanks are due to the officers of the regiment for their prompt and hearty co-operation.
The patience and courage of the men, after the fatigue of the past ten days, is deserving of especial praise.
I take pleasure in mentioning the gallant conduct of Lieutenant McDevitt, of the Fourth Wisconsin Battery, and the prompt and efficient manner in which both he and his men performed their duty.
The detachment of New York Mounted Rifles, under Sergt. [James L.
Trowbridge, are also deserving of great praise, for, though few in number, they were of the greatest assistance.
The casualties are as follows: Company K, killed, Private Alfred J. Freeman; Company A, wounded, Private Hiram C. Loomis; Company K, Private Lyndes C. Bushnell.
I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HIRAM B. CROSBY,
Lieutenant G. A. BRUCE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.