enty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry on both the right and left flank, thus weakening my first line. By this disposition the enemy were held in check until 9 a. m., when the chief of my field piece reported that he was nearly out of ammunition, and would be able to hold his position only a few minutes longer. During this time Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, had charged the enemy several times in rear of the town, thus keeping him in check in that quarter; but nearly half my horses having been disabled by the enemy's fire, both infantry and artillery, and my men being pushed from their cover, I concluded that my only safety was in retreat, cutting my way out the Waldo road, and if possible join Colonel Noble's command, which I supposed to be between Starke and Magnolia. I gave Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan and Captain Morton to understand what I intended to do, and had them assist as much as possible in forming the command, many of which were on foot. When my force was called in from the line it was closely followed by the enemy, so that no time was given to form the command in proper order before the column started. Here an unexpected accident occurred. Captain Morton, doubtless by mistake, led by one of the guides, took the road I followed him and overtook him, and by making a detour around the town was again on the Waldo road, but the horses of the piece (the caisson having been abandoned in town, the horses being disabled) were entirely exhausted and the piece was captured by the enemy some 1 or 2 miles from town on the Waldo road. While being detained in my endeavors to get the gun away, the enemy again surrounded me, and appeared in strong force in front. I here turned off the road with some 38 men and 3 officers that were with me, took and easterly direction, not following any road, until I struck the Bellamy road about 15 miles from Gainesville, skirmishing with the enemy the greater portion of the way. As I expected to find Colonel Noble with his command between Starke and Magnolia, I followed this road until night, when the guide informed me he could not strike Colonel Noble's trail without getting lost. I rested three or four hours and then continued on the same road, and arrived at Magnolia next morning.
The advance, under Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, were forced to leave the Waldo road by the enemy and to take the Lake City road, which they followed until nearly west of Waldo, when they turned east, crossing the railroad near Fort Harley, and taking the woods reached Magnolia about 11 a. m. next day. Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan's horse being disabled, he was compelled to abandon him and take to the swamps, and is probably a prisoner.
I had, during the night of the 16th, gathered about 200 blacks, consisting of men, women, and children, together with some wagons and about 40 horses and mules, nearly all of which were retaken by the enemy.
I found no citizens capable of bearing arms at home, and was told by the contrabands that they had gone to Waldo or Gainesville the day before, taking their arms and horses.
Many of my horses were unserviceable when I left Baldwin, owing to constant use during the summer and the short rations of forage, but I took them, hoping to be able to fill their places with better ones.