Our lines, up to this time, had been maintained in the skirts of a wood. To the rear of us, for a distance of more than half a mile, lay an open cotton field, without an obstacle or a shelter on it. A formidable line of cavalry, composed of three regiments, of from 1,500 to 2,500 men (as we learned from prisoners afterward taken by us), were just beyond the range of our guns, to the front of us. The fences and houses of the town were our nearest shelter in rear. A force sufficiently strong to flank us were menacing our right and left. The woods must soon be yielded up to overwhelming numbers.
From this critical position the men were relieved by the most noble daring and bravery that ever graced any arms. I gave the order to fall back, on double-quick. His mounted skirmishers followed us. When they had advanced into the open field, we halted, came to an about, and gave them a fire which soon sent them reeling on their main line. Taking advantage of their retreat, we fell back. His skirmishers soon recovered, and again charged us as before, and we again faced about and repulsed them. We again fell back as they fell back. This maneuver was repeated, with equal success on our side, until we gained about two-thirds of the distance from our outpost line to the village, when the main line of the enemy's cavalry charged us. When within range of our arms, we kept up a continuous fire on him, which caused him to move toward us at a slow and cautious pace. At this time I caused the men to retire from front to rear by company. This order was executed in admirable style, the front company retiring on doublequick to the rear of the other companies, where they came to an about, and deliberately delivered their fire, until they again became the front company, when they again retired as before. In this manner, though exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy, we kept them on a pace less than double-quick until we gained the town, where we took advantage of the houses, yard fences, hedged, c., which we converted into riflepits, from whence we poured into the enemy's ranks a murderous fire. The right and left regiments of his line were repulsed, and they retreated to his main reserve, his center only passing into the town. For this they were severely punished by our continuous fire, and soon retreated in the utmost confusion. We saluted their retreating and confused ranks as we had welcomed their approaching line of battle, with a murderous fire. After they had fallen back, several pieces of his artillery, which he had placed in battery near our picket post on the Columbia road, opened on us with grape and shell. Our batteries and siege guns at the fortifications then opened on them, and drove them from the field.
At 5 p. m. our regiment was again formed near the pontoon bridge, from whence, in a few minutes, we moved forward and again took our former position at our guard lines.
During the action every officer and man did his duty nobly. My commands were promptly obeyed, and executed under a heavy fire of the enemy with a promptness that would do credit to the ordinary drill on the parade ground.
Captains Meagher and Ent, First Lieutenants Roop, Allen, and Smith, and Second Lieutenants Peck and Hart, each commanding a company, and the only companies engaged, deserve particular mention.
Our loss was 3 killed, 4 wounded, and 10 missing. Their names accompany this report. The enemy's loss was 2 captains and 15 men killed, 1 major and 13 men wounded, and 13 prisoners; besides over 100 horses, riderless, escaped within our lines and were taken.
In reporting their loss, I only mention those who fell into our (Fortieth