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[527] We could only tell of the whereabouts of the enemy by the flashes of their guns and the smoke, (as they were masked,) while they had their artillery trained so as to sweep the roads completely.

At two o'clock news came back to the General that our cavalry had come upon the rebel pickets about a mile this side of Ruff's Mills. Immediately the line was put in motion, and we marched at a brisk pace to a point near an old church, where we halted while Captain Pond's company of cavalry and the Seventeenth Massachusetts volunteers were sent forward to reconnoitre. They had not been gone many minutes when we heard brisk firing in the direction of the mill, Captain Pond having come upon a line of cavalry, dressed in the common blue uniform of our soldiers, whom he at first mistook for our own men. The rebels let our cavalry come up to within a few yards of them, when they opened a murderous fire and fled. Captain Pond immediately deployed his company on foot as skirmishers, and for a few moments the fire on both sides was quite spirited, amounting to no loss to us, except one man slightly wounded and one horse killed. The rebels retreated across the bare string-pieces of the bridge, and sought safety behind their works.

As soon as the rebels had crossed, they commenced using their artillery, and our boys replied with a small cavalry howitzer. The two thirty-two pound howitzers were then sent for-ward, and they took position upon the brow of the hill, just above the bridge, and within three hundred yards of the rebel works. The column of infantry was also moved down into the woods, while Belger's battery was held in readiness to join in the action. It was soon found that the thirty-twos had not sufficient ammunition to last them through a long action, and two guns of Captain Belger's were ordered down to relieve them. Captain Belger had just arrived upon the ground with his pieces, when a spherical case-shot landed in the midst of his men, wounding the Captain and killing his horse instantly. The battery then took up the fight, and for an hour the cannonading on both sides was terrific. But we labored under great disadvantage, as the thick woods upon both sides prevented our gunners from seeing the enemy's position, while they could fire at random at the woods on our side, and be tolerably certain of doing us some damage.

Finding the contest so unequal, and the possibility of our crossing so very slim, General Spinola ordered his command to fall back to New-Hope. The artillery, however, as a parting salute, sent a few shells into the mill and lumber-piles, and when we left, they were in a fine blaze.

The following is a list of casualties on our side:

Captain Belger, First Rhode Island artillery, wounded in thigh and horse killed.

Lieutenant S. G. Roberts, Co. G, Seventeenth Massachusetts, severely in arm.

Sergeant G. S. Morse, Co. F, Seventeenth Massachusetts, slightly.

Corporal S. W. Reed, Co. A, Seventeenth Massachusetts, slightly

William Heath, Co. F, Third New-York artillery, severely in arm.

Patrick Donovan, Co. G, Seventeenth Massachusetts, slightly.

A. W. Barrett, Co. B, Seventeenth Massachusetts, severely in shoulder.

H. Rivers, Co. E, Seventeenth Massachusetts, slightly.

Thomas Murray, Co. F, Seventeenth Massachusetts, slightly.

Joseph Fishter, Co. F, Third New-York artillery, severely in back.

After the engagement, our forces moved back to New-Hope, where we camped for the night, and yesterday we came into Newbern.


--Philadelphia Inquirer.

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