War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 0426 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

two sergeants and thirty-one mounted men from Dismounted Camp, who I posted along our east front picket-line with several posts, after sunset, who remained on duty until sunrise the next morning. One of these vedettes being posted not far from Ralph's house and in front of our line three-eights of a mile, in a large body of timber at the confluence of two roads, and consisted of three men armed with sabers and revolvers, were, on or about 2 a. m. of the 28th instant, captured, together with their horses and accouterments, by what pretended to be a lieutenant and four privates of the rebel army. One of the men escaped, however, from them and returned to his comrades during the day, from whom I derive my information concerning their capture. The night being very dark, and surrounded by a dense pine wood, the rain falling, together with the stamping of their horses a short distance in their rear, precluded them from hearing the approach of the enemy until they suddenly appeared in their front, at the distance of five or six paces from them, with arms ready to fire, and demanding their surrender. The escaped man says, further, that so far as he could judge in the darkness, several of their captors were armed with double-barreled fowling-pieces, and in consequence of all these facts, these men, I conclude, are within our lines, and may perhaps belong to those who have taken the oath of allegiance, and have safeguards at their houses.

In the morning of the 28th, after learning of the capture of this post from the sergeant in command, I, at once, with a sergeant and sixteen mounted men, proceeded to the spot above mentioned, and following their tracks from thence to a small stream which crosses the road, from whence they appeared to diverge to the left, pursuing our course along the stream until we arrived at the cleared land; it then went in the direction of the residence of a man named Taylor. From there we followed it but a short distance, when we lost all trace of them; but still pursuing a course in a southeasterly direction, visiting a number of houses in our course, until we came out to the south of Prince George Court-House. We then retraced our way back to Doctor Eppes' house, meeting with nothing on our way to give us any clue to the captured men. I would state that of all houses we visited there were no white men present with but one exception, and that was near the Court-House. All the others were away from home with the ostensible purpose of drawing rations from the United States Government. At every inhabited house I found a safeguard, the owner having taken the oath. Permit me, colonel, to make one remark in reference to these men, and that is this. These are the men who, under cover of darkness, infest our picket-line, endeavoring to pick off our men, and I would respectfully submit that the safeguards be withdrawn and the parties themselves to go outside of our lines, either north or south. This squad of men Sergeant Heslop, of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had also fifty men brought out the afternoon of the 27th, who were stationed farther off on the left of the Birchett house, with a line of four posts perpendicular to their base on the road running east and west by the Eppes dwelling, the whole numbering eighty-four men.

On the evening of the 28th, about 7.30 p. m., a company of cavalry of the Tenth New York arrived, in charge of a lieutenant. The company numbers sixty non-commissioned officers and privates. At the Eppes house, from the Prince George Court-House, along the stage road, there is at present the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, with the Tenth New York, doing duty on said road, with headquarters at the Court-House, with orders to report to General Gregg, by whose orders