7 o'clock the evening previous a heavy cavalry force of the enemy, with artillery, had passed in retreat from Dumfries toward Trent's Church, and that they were in such a hurry the officers did not allow the men to stop for water. As Captain Barrett, with his detachment of Sixth Ohio Cavalry, had not yet come up from Dumfries, I sent Captain Snyder, with his scouts and 10 men of the First West Virginia Cavalry, to Dumfries, and told him that I would wait for him to return until 3 a.m., and then march on toward Trent's Church, as there was yet a possibility of surprising the enemy encamped in the wood.
At 3 a.m. I reported back to headquarters and received a report from Captain Barrett, Sixth Ohio Cavalry (copy Numbers 2.), stating that his command had been fired upon at Dumfries, and from all that he could learn from the inhabitants the town was in possession of the enemy. This seemed to me to be very improbable, as, if the enemy had succeeded in taking Dumfries, he would not have returned the same road upon which he came. I therefore did not alter my plan, but marched with my command shortly after (3 a.m.) toward Trent's Church, and ordered Captain Barrett to join me to by way of Purcell Mill and Keyes' farm.
My advance reached Trent's Church at daybreak on the 28th instant. Part of the enemy's cavalry, with ambulances, had passed at 11 o'clock the night before. A small cavalry force had turned off on the road to Stafford Springs; the larger force, with artillery, had taken the road turning off the north near Murphy's farm.
I had here again to regret that I was not allowed to take with me my own artillery, as the officer in command of the section of Hill's battery (Lieutenant Theis), belonging to the Second Brigade, did not fall in at the proper time, and proved unable to keep his section up in the marching column, and missed the road. When I heard of his mistake, I had already received the information that our troops at Dumfries expected a renewed attack in the morning, and as 200 men of the Eighty-second Illinois had been ordered to protect the artillery and ambulances, and bring up the rear, I sent them word to continue their march to Dumfries, and to report there. However, this accident might have been accompanied with grave consequences. I therefore have to report the officer in command for neglect of duty.
About 7 a.m. I received a report that the enemy had been repulsed in the afternoon of the 27th at Dumfries; that our troops were still in possession of the latter place, but that the enemy was still in sight, with camp fires burning.
Colonel Candy, in command at Dumfries, expected a renewal of the attack every moment, and begged me to come up as soon as possible, as his men were worn out and had suffered very much.
From Colonel Di Cesnola I received the information (copy Numbers 3.) that he would start at about 7 a.m. on the 28th from Garrisonville toward Stafford Springs, and try to make a dash on the enemy's wagons.
From all this is was evident that Dumfries was safe, but that, on the other hand, our movement to get into the rear of the enemy's cavalry had failed, and that further pursuit was useless, as I had but 30 men of the cavalry left, and no right from the information which I had received, to expect that any cavalry forces of ours would come up for many hours.
At 8 a.m., therefore, I marched back to Keyes' farm, searching the houses near the road. At Keyes' farm I encamped till 12 m., when Adjutant Klenker, of my staff returned from Dumfries, whither I had dispatched him in the morning, and again expressed the wish of Colonel Candy that I should march to his assistance. At the same time can-