hams. We also gained some information at almost every farm-house concerning the movements and locality of McCrae's forces. I had heard his forces estimated variously at from five hundred to one thousand five hundred, many of them, however, being poorly armed; and I had learned at Augusta that he had from four hundred to six hundred men near Antony's. The farther, however, I advanced, the more his force in any one body appeared to diminish, and the less appeared to be the chance for a fair fight with them. After, therefore, reaching a point twelve miles above Augusta, and meeting no force, I determined to return to the transport. After a rest, it being half-past 12 o'clock, we started back. At half-past 1 o'clock, as we passed the road leading to McCoy's, a party of men showed themselves in the road, and being, as I had reason to believe, a decoy to draw us into an ambuscade, I ordered that they should not be pursued. We arrived at Fitzhugh's, less than a mile from that road, and were resting, when the enemy made his appearance from the direction of McCoy's, advancing in line in a field on our left, and commenced charging on us. I had a part of our infantry quickly moved against them, which checked them, and by a volley-fire killed and dismounted a number of them. The same infantry force then charged on them, and, amid the loud shouts and cheers of our men, drove them back into the woods out of sight. I then increased our rear-guard, resumed the march, and proceeded about two miles, when the enemy came upon us in much larger force, our first notice being his attack on our rear-guard. The place can perhaps be best designated as Fitzhugh's woods, and was almost five hundred yards north of a well-known bayou or swamp. On the east side of the road was a field of cultivated land on which there was a thin body of dead timber. West of the road was heavy timber, with more or less dead logs lying about, but not much underbrush. It was immediately apparent that the enemy had collected all his forces, and meditated our destruction. His lines having previously been deployed, moved up around us in good order, but shouting loudly, and seemed almost to encircle us. I plainly saw, and every one in my command could see, that we were greatly outnumbered, but I had the most unfaltering confidence in the unflinching valor and superior soldiership of every officer and man of my small party, and I believed from the start we would come out victorious. Our line was immediately deployed, as skirmishers, the men cautioned to take advantage of every shelter, and a strong company was held in reserve. The cavalry formed on the left and fought dismounted. The fighting commenced sharply, the enemy being within two hundred yards of us, and the men on both sides uttering defiant shouts. Above all the clamor, we could hear the loud exhortations of their chiefs urging on their men to a charge. They made an attempt, but were repulsed and charged on by us. The firing was the sharpest during the first half-hour, and during this time my horse was shot under me. We could see, moreover, that every movement of the enemy was thwarted by the unerring fire of our sharp-shooters. We were damaging and subduing him every minute. Still we were aware that we were fighting experienced and daring men, Rutherford's men especially being well known as cool fighters and good marksmen. They fought dismounted. The fight had lasted an hour, when it was discovered that a part of the enemy's forces were moving around to our right at difficult range for us, with the evident purpose of intercepting our passage across the bayou. In order to defeat that purpose and to get a somewhat better position, and also to have the benefit of a well of water, which we were beginning to need, I determined to withdraw our line about one hundred and fifty paces, where we could hold the bayou, and also have the protection of a cluster of log buildings and some fences. The greater part of my force had withdrawn to this new position unperceived by the enemy. When he discovered that we had abandoned our first line, which we had stubbornly held during the hardest of the contest, he conjectured we were retreating, and rose up and came on with the utmost shouting and clamor. But our men, who were already in position, calmly waiting their approach, poured forth a fire more damaging and deadly than they had yet suffered. From this moment they seemed to give up the fight. Yet leaders advanced, and, with language plainly heard by us, vainly endeavored to stimulate their men to a desperate attack. Two or three of their leaders were picked off by our men while making such brave endeavors. We held that position an hour and a half, during which time our men maintained a cool and effective skirmish-fire. The combat had now lasted two hours and a half, and the enemy was beaten. To guard, however, against any surprise at the bayou, the crossing being difficult, and it appearing also that it had been the purpose of the enemy to do us an injury there, I caused a line of sharp-shooters to be deployed, concealed on both flanks of the crossing of the bayou in the woods, to protect our crossing whenever we might choose to move. This was promptly attended to by Major Foster. Although the ford of the bayou is about one hundred and twenty-five yards wide, and extremely difficult to cross in the vicinity of an enemy, we made the passage without any interference or obstacle, which is further evidence that he had been thoroughly whipped. We then moved on in our march to the transport, a distance of six miles, the road passing through woods, by cross-roads and open fields, where, if the enemy had dared, he might have chosen his position, knowing,, as he well did, the country. But he did not venture near us again; and we proceeded into Augusta in perfect order, our colors flying, and the men singing, “Down with the traitor!” and arriving in front of the town, we halted and gave three cheers for the Stars and Stripes. We then moved aboard the
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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