rear, and thus cut off all possibility of escape, and with special directions to execute the movements, of possible, without discovery; but if discovered, and an alarm was raised, I would immediately charge the camp from the front, when he was to operate with his command from any point which he might then occupy; that, if no alarm was raised, I should consider that he had gained the position directed, where he was to wait until I should commence the attack from the front. I had not decided at this time whether to move upon the camp at once or to wait until daylight; but, upon further consideration, decided to delay, as it was now after 2 o'clock in the morning. The moon was getting low, and the deep shadows of the forest were falling heavily, rendering it easy for persons to escape undiscovered to the woods and swamps in the darkness. After waiting an hour and more, and just as the earliest dawn appeared, I put the column in motion, and we were enabled to approach within four or five rods of the camp undiscovered, when a dash was ordered, and in an instant the whole camp, with its inmates, was ours. A chain of mounted guards was immediately thrown around the camp and dismounted sentries placed at the tents and wagons. The surprise was so complete, and the movement so sudden in its execution, that few of the enemy were enabled to make the slightest defense, or even arouse from their slumbers in time to grasp their weapons, which were lying at their sides, before they were wholly in our power. But, at this moment a new scene opened, destined, in its mournful results, to cloud the otherwise perfect and glorious success of our expedition, for we had not possession of the camp but a few minutes, and not long enough to ascertain the extent of our capture, when sharp firing was commenced between the dismounted force under Lieutenant Purinton and, what was supposed at the time to be, the rebel force guarding the train. The firing was about 100 roads in rear of the camp, and across a narrow swamp. I immediately ordered all my forces forward to the scene of the firing, leaving only a force sufficient to guard the camp and prisoners. On arriving on the ground I found my men engaging a force of dismounted men, who were concealed behind trees, &c. I at once formed my men in line, dismounted them, threw out a line of skirmishers, who were advancing handsomely, when I became apprehensive that we were contending with some of our own men - from the determination displayed on their part and the peculiar report of their fire-arms. I ordered my men at once to cease firing, and rode out toward our opponents, and hallowed to them, asking them who they were, and received the reply, "First Wisconsin."
The mistake was not discovered until it had cost the loss of two men killed and a lieutenant severely wounded in the Fourth Michigan Cavalry and three men severely and several slightly wounded in the First Wisconsin. This lamentable accident arose principally from the refusal of the sergeant in command of the advance of the First Wisconsin to give a proper response to the challenge of Lieutenant Purinton, and partially from the oversell of both parties, each supposing they had met the enemy; and it was yet so dark in the woods that it was impossible to distinguish the uniforms of the men. As soon as the firing had ceased I returned to camp and took an inventory of our capture, when I ascertained we had captured Jeff. Davis and family (a wife and four children), John H. Reagan, his Postmaster-General; Colonels Harrison [Johnston] and Lubbock, aides de-camp to Davis; Burton N. Harrison, his private secretary; Major Maurin, Captain Moody, Lieutenant Hathaway, Jeff. D. Howell, midshipman in the rebel navy, and 12 private soldiers; Miss Maggie Howell, sister of Mrs. Davis; 2