under arms and prepared for action. Apprehending that the enemy was too cautious to approach our works, I ordered Brigadier-General Colquitt, commanding First Brigade, to advance with three of his regiments and a section of Gamble's artillery, and assume command of the entire force then ordered to the front and feel the enemy by skirmishing, and if he was not in too heavy force to press him heavily. I had previously instructed Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to fall back as our infantry advanced and protect their flanks. This movement was predicated on the information that the enemy had only three regiments of infantry, with some cavalry and artillery. Perceiving that in this movement the force under Brigadier-General Colquitt's command might become too heavily engaged to withdraw without a large supporting force, and intending that if the enemy should prove to be in not too great strength to engage them, I ordered in quick succession, within the space of an hour, the whole, command to advance to the front as a supporting force, and myself went upon the field. These re-enforcements were pushed rapidly forward and, as I anticipated, reached the field at the moment when the line was most heavily pressed, and at a time when their presence gave confidence to our men and discouragement to the enemy.
I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkins, commanding First Florida Battalion, and Major Bonaud, commanding Bonaud's battalion, to fall into line on the left in the direction of the enemy's heaviest firing. After I had ordered these re-enforcements, and they were some distance on the way to the front, and while I was myself on the way to the front, I received from Brigadier-General Colquitt, commanding in the front, a request for the re-enforcements which had already been ordered.
The engagement became general very soon after its commencement. The enemy were found in heavy force, their infantry drawn up in three supporting lines, their artillery in position, cavalry on their flanks and rear. I ordered Brigadier-General Colquitt to press them with vigor, which he did with much judgment and gallantry. They contested the ground stubbornly, and the battle lasted for four and a half hours. At the end of this time, the enemy's lines having been broken and reformed several times, and two fine Napoleon and three 10-pounder Parrott guns and one set of colors captured from them, they gave way entirely, and were closely pressed for 3 miles until night-fall. I directed Brigadier-General Colquitt to continue the pursuit, intending to occupy Sanderson that night; but in deference to his suggestion of the fatigue of the troops, the absence of rations, and the disadvantages of the pursuit in the dark, and in consequence of a report from an advanced cavalry picket that the enemy had halted for the night and taken a position (which was subsequently ascertained to be incorrect), I withdrew the order. During the continuance of the battle, also after the enemy had given way, I sent repeated orders to Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to press the enemy on his flanks and to continue in the pursuit. But through some misapprehension these orders failed to be executed by him, and only two small companies on the left, and these but for a short distance, followed the enemy.
The enemy retreated that night, hastily and in some confusion, to Sanderson, leaving a large number of their killed and wounded in our possession on the field. Their loss in killed, both officers and men, was large. Four hundred and eighteen of their wounded were