We halted on the morning of the 12th at Mill Creek, exploded three torpedoes and raised two. Marched about two miles and burnt the mill of Mr. Henry Barrack, an accomplice of the men who placed the torpedoes, thence we marched across the peninsula, inclosed between the Rappahannock and Piankatank Rivers, divided into two detachments, and marched down two roads leading toward Stringray Point. About three miles farther down, at the point where these two roads unite, our detachments united. At this point we discovered four news torpedoes concealed in the woods, constructed with tin cases, each containing about fifty pounds of powder. Suspecting the presence of some small armed parties on the point, I threw out a line of skirmishers extending completely across the peninsula, a distance of about three miles, placed a reserve of infantry and the cavalry in the road, and ordered the skirmish line to advance to the extreme point. The ground being covered in most place with thick woods and underbrush, and intersected with creeks and swamps, it was almost impossible to maintain an unbroken line, and the progress of the skirmishers was necessarily difficult and slow. After advancing in this manner some two or three miles a small portion of the skirmishers on the right center, five or six in number, encountered a party of nine men, consisting of cavalry and marines, under command of B. G. Burley and John Maxwell, acting masters, C. S. Navy, and although the colored infantry were entirely separated from their officers, they immediately attacked them. A brisk skirmish ensued. The blacks soon received a small re-enforcement and succeeded in killing or capturing the entire party except one. Acting Master Maxwell and 4 others were killed. Acting Master Burley and a sergeant and corporal of cavalry were captured. Our loss was 1 killed, 2 seriously and 1 slightly wounded. The wounded will probably all recover.
This little affair was conducted wholly by the black men as no officers arrived, until after the fight was over. The colored soldiers would have killed all the prisoners had they not been restrained by Sergeant Price, who is also colored.
Acting Masters Burley and Maxwell were in command of the party which captured the steamer Titan at Cherry Stone. Maxwell was formerly an officer in the U. S. Navy.
I inclose the letter of instructions from the rebel Secretary of Navy under which these officers acted, also Burley's British protection and a pass from the rebel Secretary of War, dated March 30, 1864, for B. G. Burley, a citizen of Great Britain, to pass beyond the limits of the Confederate States, which documents appear to me to furnish evidence that Burley was expected to act as a spy. I also inclose sundry other documents to show the character and purposes of these parties.
We passed the night of the 12th on the blanks of Fishing Bay, re-embarked in the morning, crossed the Piankatank to Milford Haven, where we landed and marched to Mathews Court-House, where are captured 1 rebel sergeant and 1 private, also 33 head of cattle and 22 serviceable horses and mules, with some wagons for the use of our contraband farm on the Patuxent.
We passed the night of the 13th at Milford Haven.
On the 14th re-embarked with our captured property and returned to Point Lookout.
The expedition accomplished the destruction or capture of 9 torpedoes, burnt 1 mill, killed 5 of the enemy, captured 5, including 2 acting masters in the rebel navy, captured 33 head of cattle, 22 horses