As soon as I reached Colonel McCausland, who was in the rear of his column gallantly and spiritedly trying to rally his shattered command, I reported to him in person for orders. He directed me to form my men on the left of the road in the timber and resist the farther advance of the enemy and cover his retreat, promising me such support as might be in his power. This was promptly obeyed, and in a very few minutes engaged the advancing column of the enemy, pouring a most destructive fire into him and driving him back some several hundred yards. I continued to engage him for more than an hour, driving him back at every point until I found myself likely to be flanked by his overpowering numbers, who were rapidly and steadily closing in upon me, when I slowly and in good order fell back to Dublin, which I found had already been evacuated by the force under Colonel McCausland. From thence I proceeded to New Rive bridge under the guidance of a citizen, who informed me that Colonel McCausland with his forces had gone there. I reached that point with my command a short time before sunset, and crossed the river under orders and encamped for the night.
About 8 o'clock the next morning I was directed by the colonel commanding to take on of my companies and place it along the bank of the river above the bridge to act as sharpshooters, to prevent the firing of the bridge by the enemy, and the balance of my command I was to place in the rear of my sharpshooters, under the cover of a ridge, to act as skirmishers in an emergency. This disposition of my forces was speedily made as directed. In a short time the enemy appeared in considerable force on the other side of the river, when an artillery duel followed, which lasted several hours, when our forces fell back under orders to Christiansburg, and from thence to Roanoke County.
In this last day's operations no portion of my command was actively engaged except those deployed to act as sharpshooters, although the whole of them were constantly exposed to the shells of our own guns as well as those of the enemy, especially when they were ordered to fall back. For more than half a mile on our retreat we were in direct range and in plain view of the enemy's guns, who opened a terrific fire upon us, but strange to say there was but one man injured and he only slightly, by the explosion of a shell.
I feel that too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the men who served under me on these two several occasions, especially on the first-named day. I never saw men fight with more coolness, spirit, and resolution. Indeed, it would have been difficult for men to have acted better than they did under the circumstances. Officers and enlisted men seemed to vie with each other in the enthusiastic discharge of their duties on this trying occasion.
Where all acted so well it would seem invidious to personate any, but a stern sense of duty compels me to speak of the gallant and heroic conduct of Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Martin and Captain William Campbell, commanding the First Battalion, and Major George R. Diamond and Captain James G. Bedford, commanding the Second Battalion of my command. They were everywhere present encouraging their men, and almost reckless in the exposure of their persons and lives in the discharge of their duties.
To Captain H. Rees, my adjutant, and Mr. O. O. West, acting on my staff as aide, I am greatly indebted for their active and efficient conduct on the battle-field.