fog and from the grounding of the vessels, the troops were finally debarked by 4 p. m., and the whole command was moved forward about two miles and a half upon a spot of elevated ground suitable for an encampment, where we were to await the landing of the artillery, ammunition, and ambulances. This being effected about 8 a. m. on the 5th, the whole command advanced upon the road leading to the bridge over East Riverr, where we found the planking of the bridge taken up, and the enemy's cavalry with one piece of artillery upon the opposite bank prepared to dispute the passage. The skirmish line, composed of Companies G and H, Second Colored Infantry, under the command of Major Lincoln, Second Colored Infantry, made a gallant charge over the open ground to the bridge, and opening a rapid fire upon the enemy, the latter fled precipitately. The skirmishers filed over the sleepers of the bridge, and capturing one piece of artillery immediately turned it upon the enemy. The piece of artillery taken was without limber and caisson, these having been removed. The bridge being repaired, which was promptly effected by the Ninety-ninth Colored Infantry, an advance upon Newport was begun, the enemy showing but a few cavalry. When near Newport a heavy smoke indicated the probable destruction of the bridge. The battalion of the Second Florida Cavalry, under Major Weeks, was pushed on in advance to save the bridge. This was found to be impossible, one bay of the bridge being already gone and its whole length swept from the rifle-pits of the enemy on the other side. The conflagration was extended to include an iron foundry used by the enemy to cast shot and shell, one saw and one grist mill, and other property. Major Weeks with the battalion of the Second Florida Cavalry was left at Newport bridge to guard against a crossing of the enemy in our rear - a service ably and gallantly performed, his command being under the constant fire of the enemy's infantry and artillery. It being impossible to repair the bridge at Newport or cross the river at this point, it was determined to attempt the Natural Bridge, four or five miles above (according to the assurances of the guides). An old and unfrequented road led to that point, and it was hoped we would not be expected there. The distance was found on trial to be over eight miles, and the enemy was guarding it on our arrival.
March 6. At daybreak Major Lincoln, with two companies (B and G) of Second U. S. Colored Infantry, drove the advanced posts of the enemy over the bridge, when his farther progress was checked by a superior force of the enemy behind entrenchments, having sloughs, ponds, marshes, and thickets in front and flanks as auxiliary defenses. Another spot suitable for crossing was indicated as existing one mile below the Natural Bridge, but after a careful examination it was found to be impracticable, and was indeed already guarded by the enemy. Nothing now remained to do but to feel the enemy and ascertain whether or no a passage could be forced, particularly as it was reported to me that a way to turn the enemy had been found by an officer on picket, who had gone quite close to the enemy's works. Colonel Townsend, with Companies A, B, and H, Second U. S. Colored Infantry, was directed to turn the enemy's right flank if practicable, and Major Lincoln, with Companies E, G, and K, Second U. S. Colored Infantry, to make the direct assault. The Ninety-ninth U. S. Colored Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Pearsall, was to support. Colonel Townsend with his command advanced gallantly, the enemy fleeing upon his approach and abandoning his breast-works, but at the foot almost of the works he encountered a wide and deep slough impassable to troops, and the