Pickett's, 4 miles above camp, as I deemed it the safest point in the event of an early raid on our camp, and one at which the cars would most likely stop to take on baggage. About twilight on the evening of the 8th of February, though not on duty, in consequence of serious indisposition of a month's duration, I received a verbal order from Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick commanding the forces at Camp Finegan, to move my section of artillery immediately to the rear; that the enemy was approaching and near Miles Price's house, some one-half mile distant. I promptly communicated the order to the lieutenant commanding the section and as the horses were already harnessed and hitched, no time was lost in moving. On my arrival at the drill-ground near the camp, where I had followed the section, I found Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick had formed a line of battle on the west side of drill-ground with cavalry and infantry, when I was ordered to halt the artillery and form on left of line; but as three of the pieces had passed the field only one was placed in position on the left of the line. As soon as the order could be sent to the lieutenant the other three pieces were halted in the road, one-fourth mile distant, and the caissons ordered to pass to Pickett's Station. Lieutenant Bates then rode back to where the line was formed, when Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick ordered him to move on in the direction of Baldwin, but he was informed that all the baggage and Government property were at Pickett's Station; that the cars had failed to take it, when the colonel ordered him to stop at that point. On the arrival of the battery at Pickett's, I directed the lieutenant to halt the battery, unhitch, and wait until the cavalry and infantry arrived. After remaining some time, the men (except the guard) were allowed to go to sleep. About 11 to 11.30 o'clock at night I was aroused by a sergeant of Company B, Milton Light Artillery, riding rapidly through the camp and crying at the top of his voice, "Save yourselves if you can; the enemy is right upon you!" I immediately arose and ordered the men to take horses and mules and escape the best they could, but before we could get away from the camp the tramping of horses and the wheels of the artillery carriages were distinctly heard, and after riding a short distance, the sound of the bugle. My command fled, both on foot and horseback, in the direction of Baldwin, the enemy capturing only 5 men, 4 horses, 6 mules, and 3 wagons, besides the 2 pieces of artillery.
Captain Abell's loss, Company B, Milton Light Artillery, was 13 men, 19 horses, 16 mules and 3 colts, 1 battery wagon and forge, 2 wagons, and 2 pieces of artillery. I am informed that 1 piece of artillery, Company B, was captured at Baldwin for want of transportation.
I cannot conclude this report without giving expression to the opinion that if the cars had taken the baggage and Government property, which had been hauled out to Pickett's several hours before the usual train time, as the conductor promised, that the four pieces of artillery would not have been captured at that station, but there would have been ample time to have marched far beyond the enemy's pursuit by daylight the next morning.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
J. L. DUNHAM,
Captain Company A, Milton Light Artillery.
Colonel R. B. THOMAS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.