My dispatch announcing to General Pickett that I had given orders to commence the movement was returned with the following indorsement:
Petersburg, May 9, 1864.
GENERAL: Since the order was given for you to advance General Pickett has sent another countermanding it and telling you to hold the line of Swift Creek, if the enemy, as reported, were advancing in force on you.
As a consequence of the se communications, the movement ordered became a reconnaissance with a part of Hagood's brigade. The enemy was found in heavy force in vicinity of the turnpike, on the north side of Swift Creek. After a very sharp skirmish, General Hagood withdrew his forces from the north side of creek, having lost in a brief period 9 officers and 128 men killed, wounded, and missing. It was evident that the whole of the enemy's forces were in our front. Communications were received during the night from Major-General Ransom, and Brigadier-General Barton at Drewry's Bluff, inquiring for the enemy, and stating that there had been but little demonstration in their front during the day. The enemy's sharpshooters were now pressed forward, especially in the vicinity of the railroad bridge. They reached a fence in the open field, within some 500 or 600 yards of the Dunlap house, and very much annoyed our main line. With the first design of making a determined attack upon the enemy, the Fifty-first North Carolina Regiment had been replaced a this point by a part of the Sixty-third Tennessee Regiment. Captain J. W. Robertson, of the latter regiment, was now directed to take two companies and drive the enemy's skirmishers back. This was handsomely done by a charge. Somewhat later, in the darkness of the night, the enemy's reserve-about a regiment-made a demonstration, fired a volley on our skirmishers, raised a shout, and made an effort to charge them, but Captain Robertson's command held its position until a late hour at night, when it was relieved by two companies of he Fifty-first North Carolina Regiment. a heavy line of skirmishers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Aiken, of the Sixty-third Tennessee, held Level Ford during the night of the 9th. The enemy, however, attempted to cross some men above the ford and brought up apiece of artillery to the stream, but they were promptly driven back by a detachment under Captain Millard, of the Sixty-third Tennessee Regiment.
In the skirmishing at Swift Creek Johnson's brigade had 5 men Hoke's brigades arrived. About 1.30 p. m. the prevailing quietude on the line induced me to order the artillery near the railroad bridge to open. It drew no response from the enemy, who had previously made very free use of a battery of artillery just opposite. I then ordered forward our skirmishers and found the enemy had withdrawn without any manifest cause. Major-General Hoke arrived this evening, counseled no movement, and assumed command on the morning of May 11.