with which the guidon was saluted manifested clearly the true character of the fire on us, and I immediately deployed my two reserve companies on the flanks of the two already in line; sent hastily for my main column, and directed Captain Pond, who volunteered to act as aide, to ascertain the whereabouts of our railroad column; at the same time I endeavored personally to detect the position of the enemy and the character of his defense. Scarcely a man was visible, but his fire in front came from beyond the railroad, while his wings were advanced under cover of woods and brush, the ground in his front being entirely open or affording very imperfect shelter. As soon as my main body approached I detached three companies to deploy as skirmishers and move by a flank on the right of the enemy's line of fire so as to enfilade it, and then to sweep at right angles to the rear and along his line.
Just as this movement commenced, and while I was detaching three other companies to move around his left, a brisk fire was opened from a direction which I felt sure must come from our railroad friends, which Captain Pond, who just then returned, placed beyond doubt. They were advancing at right angles with the enemy's line, who, being at the same time pressed in front by the companies of the Fifty-eighth and Twenty-seventh, soon gave way and retired in disorder. The true character of the enemy's position and defenses now appeared. We found several hundred feet of rifle-pit breastworks on the rear of and parallel with the railroad, but entirely concealed by low bushes and brush, without flank faces, however, though flanked by bushes and woods. This way a kind of outwork, about 75 yards to the rear, is the principal defense, a heavy earthwork of 500 or 600 feet front and embrasure looking down the Dover road, flank faces, and altogether a strong fortification, especially as a swamp on the right, at short musketry range with open ground between, renders a flank movement difficult. Considering the character of the enemy's works it is difficult to imagine why they abandoned them on so feeble a defense, especially as they seemed fully manned with additional men advanced on the flanks of the outer line. It is equally astonishing that our loss in carrying those works could be so small, being 1 killed and 1 wounded of the companies of the Fifty-eighth and none injured of the Twenty-seventh; 1 killed and 3 wounded of the line which advanced on the flank. The four companies in front, however, fought deployed as skirmishers, and took advantage of whatever cover the ground afforded. As to the enemy's loss, 4 were reported to me as dead on the ground, 1 as mortally wounded-since died, I understand-and 1 wounded was brought a prisoner with us, the other wounded having been carried off by themselves.
In this affair the men behaved remarkably well. Those of the Fifty-eighth and Twenty-seventh I can speak of on personal knowledge; the others on information I received on the ground.
The number of the enemy I have no means of estimating, except from their fire, which was that of four or five companies. The people of the neighborhood said there was a regiment there, but I doubt it. They also stated that there was a brigade, with a battery, at Wise's Forks, 2 miles in the rear, which may be true.
Having destroyed the enemy's camp and effected the object of the expedition, I returned leisurely by the Dover road to our bivouac behind Core Creek.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. RICHTER JONES,
Colonel Fifty-eighth Regiment.
Captain JUDSON, Assistant Adjutant-General.