regiment was formed in line and across the road running parallel with the railroad to support a small body of cavalry, and to hold and defend the approach while other troops were engaged in destroying the railroad. We occupied this point until 7 p. m., when the brigade was ordered to the railroad, where we were employed in the labor of destroying the road until about 11 p. m., when we bivouacked for the night.
On the morning of the 9th the march continued southward along the railroad, destroying it as we advanced. The station at Jarratt's was utterly destroyed by troops of the First Division. The march and the destruction was continued until evening, the enemy being met near Belville [Belfield], and after considerable cannonading and skirmishing was driven over the river. My regiment, with the other regiments of the brigade, was thrown across the roads leading from the rear, and bivouacked for the night. The weather had now become very cold and stormy; it was raining and snowing . On the morning of the 10th the return movement began at daylight. the roads were deep with mud and water. The trees were covered with ice. Our brigade was designated to cover the rear. Cannonading and skirmishing began early, mostly with the cavalry. The rear guard did not move until about 12 m. After it marched some two hours, and was so wearied as a wood. Soon after halting, and before all the flankers and skirmishers had emerged from the woods, leaving a squadron of cavalry still in their rear, the enemy's cavalry charged, driving the squadron of Second New York Cavalry* into our infantry lines in great confusion. Brigadier-General Baxter, commanding brigade, immediately formed a line of battle across the road (my regiment being on the left of the road), part of which opened fire on the enemy as they emerged from the wood, when they quickly turned and fled. The march was continued, the men becoming very weary before reaching the camp some four miles south of Sussex Court-House, aftger having marched in mud, water, and show for sixteen miles. The enemy's cavalry again attacked part of our brigade, and were repulsed with loss. It rained during the night. The line of march on the 11th was taken up nearly, our brigade leading the division. Thursday's march brought us through Sussex croup-House, across the Nottoway, into the Jerusalem plank road, and continuity the march up to 8 p. m. brought us within ten miles of our original camp, and the next day's march brought us to our present camp within the rear line of the army south of Petersburg.
I have to regret the loss of 7 men (see report annexed+) who I presume were not able to keep up with the column, and were dauntless captured and perhaps murdered by the enemy's cavalry and guerrillas, who were continually hovering around our flank and rear. My men being nearly all new recruits, and this being their first hard service, I am pleased to be able to say that they conducted themselves well, exhibiting a good spirit and true soldierly qualities.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. F. McCOY,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
* Mounted Rifles.
+ Nominal list omitted.