m., we began our march. We had gone about half a mile when our scouts were fired upon by the rebel skirmishers. Our skirmishers advanced steadily, supported by the column, and drove before them the small rebel force for about 3 miles, when it passed over a creek, taking up the bridge behind it. A rebel battery opened immediately. Knowing they would shell the main road, I moved my command to the right and continued my advance under cover of the woods. The road we had left was shelled with great precision. Our skirmishers advanced to the creek and a sharp fire was kept up for some time between them and the rebel sharpshooters. As our men had been cautioned to keep to cover, and the distance was too great for ordinary rifles, they suffered little. The rebels, being in large numbers about their guns and showing themselves on the earth-works, suffered more. I reconnoitered the creek and swamp on both sides of the bridge and found them impassable. The swamp was miry and deep, and swept by the guns of a rebel fort near the Dawho, and also by the guns of the battery and earth-works. The creek was a salt-water one, deep, and bordered by a miry marsh on each side. The narrowest water I could find, except at the bridge, was about 37 yards, running between marshy borders, each about 50 yards wide. The place where the bridge had been was narrower, but was swept by both a raking and flanking fire of the enemy's cannon. A rough diagram* will show the situation.
Our two small howitzers dropped several shell into the rebel fort, and the gun-boats from the Dawho, although most of their shell fell short, dropped two shells into the fort among the gunners.
Our casualties were very few, and altogether from sharpshooters. Two men were wounded in the Seventh U. S. Colored Troops, and 4 in the Thirty-fourth U. S. Colored Troops. The reports giving the names were left among the papers in the hands of Colonel Montgomery. None of the wounds are serious.
Men and officers all seemed disposed to do their duty. The affair was an excellent drill for them preparatory to real fighting.
The troops under my command were: Thirty marines serving the two light howitzers; 525 men of the Seventh U. S. Colored Troops; 370 men of the Thirty-fourth U. S. Colored Troops; 241 men of the Thirty-fifth U. S. Colored Troops; 35 men of the Seventh-fifth Ohio Volunteers; total, 1,201, besides Captain Edwards' company of engineers.
In the absence of the artillery necessary to protect my crossing and the means to build a bridge, I ended the reconnaissance and withdrew leisurely.
Your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding District of Florida.
Captain W. L. M. BURGER,
No mention is made of the boat furnished for crossing, or his report to me on the morning of the 3rd, when asking leave to withdraw, and of my order not to withdraw until night.
J. G. FOSTER.
*Omitted as unimportant.