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[692] battery in position at once, to command the town and our road. I supported the battery with Dunn's battalion. After a while I was informed that the enemy had fled before us, leaving his tents, clothes, swords, officers' uniforms, and even the lights burning in his tents.

It is probable had we not halted before nightfall, we might have captured many prisoners, possibly the General himself; for I was informed he did not leave town until twilight. But none of us could foresee, and so far as I know, every one acted for the best. The regiment went in with hearty good will and promptly. Major Bradley lost one of his men, Weeden, of Halladay's company. Trigg had some six men wounded, one of whom, private Carter, of Company I, was mortally wounded. So the town of Princeton fell into my hands about ten P. M., on the sixteenth of May; the line of the enemy's communications with Raleigh was cut, and the headquarters of the “Kanawa division” was abruptly stampeded. A mass of correspondence fell into my hands. Letters and orders, dated from the tenth down to the sixteenth of May--fully disclose the intentions of the enemy and his strength. I send you several of these for your perusal. I learned from the inhabitants of Princeton that on the morning of the fifteenth, the two regiments, about nine hundred men each, had passed through town toward East River, and that two regiments had been expected to arrive at eight P. M., from Raleigh, the very evening I came. I had a knowledge that one or more regiments had passed on to the mouth of East River by the road from Dunlap, without coming through Princeton. Combining the information I had from the letters captured with the news I received from the people in Princeton, I learned that I was in the neighborhood of at least four regiments, of which General Heth had no knowledge.

My own position had suddenly become very critical. I had only heard from Colonel Wharton that he had not passed East River Mountain on the morning of the fifteenth. He had not arrived at Princeton on the night of the sixteenth, as I had directed and desired. I did not know the direction in which General Cox had retired, whether to East River or Raleigh; but whether in the one or the other direction, I had no assurance but that the morrow would find me struggling with my force, more than half of whom were undrilled recruits, against largely superior numbers of well-trained troops, of every arm. Casting about as well as I could at night, to catch an idea of the topography, I found that the ruins of Princeton occupy a knoll in the centre on some open level meadows, entirely surrounded by woodlands, with thick undergrowth, which fringe the open grounds, and that through the entire circuit about the town, the central position at the court house can be commanded by the Enfield rifle. Roads lead in through these woods in several directions. My men had marched nineteen miles during the day, had slept none, and were scattered among the houses and tents to discover what had been left of the enemy. I at once determined to withdraw from the ruins before dawn, and to take position within range of the town site so as to cover the road by which I entered. This I effected, the dawn finding me in the act of completing the operation. My force was marched from the town. After daylight I received a despatch from Colonel Wharton, dated the sixteenth, at the Cross-roads, eleven miles from Princeton, promising to come to town by nine A. M., on the seventeenth. Before he arrived the enemy had re-entered the town, a force I could not estimate, but which was provided with artillery, and displayed more than two full regiments. Colonel Wharton arrived in the neighborhood by the road leading in from the Cross-roads, a little after nine A. M. The enemy was at the time throwing forward his skirmishers, to dispute with mine the woods and points overhanging the road, which led in from the Cross-roads to Princeton, which road ran nearly parallel to the one by which I had advanced. I had written to Colonel Wharton to press on, and he would have the enemy in flank. The Colonel opened with his single piece of artillery, a little after nine, upon my right, and the batteries in town and at my position at once opened upon each other at long range. Colonel Wharton soon came to me to report his position and force. The force was about eight hundred men. My estimate is, I now had some two thousand eight hundred men, of whom one-half were raw recruits. A regiment of the enemy coming down from the direction of Crossroads to Princeton, about this time, appeared in the rear of Colonel Wharton's command, and were attacked by it furiously. The struggle lasted but a short time. The havoc in the enemy's ranks was terrible. Colonel Wharton reports to me two hundred and eleven as the dead and wounded of the enemy. I understand that more than eighty bodies were buried on the field. The enemy appeared with a flag of truce, asking to bury their dead, and to remove their wounded. I refused, but hearing, after about an hour, that some officer had allowed it, and that the enemy were engaged in burying, I directed Brigadier-General Williams to permit the ambulances of the enemy to pass along my right for the purpose of carrying away the wounded also. There was no further battle. I waited for news from Brigadier-General Heth, or to learn of his approach to Princeton, as the signal for a general engagement with the enemy. If Brigadier-General Heth had successfully attacked at the mouth of East River in the morning, as requested to do, he might be hourly expected to communicate his approach to Princeton by his couriers or his artillery. If he had not attacked, but was still at the mouth of Wolf Creek, it would be imprudent in me to assail the enemy, for the probability was strong that he would hazard the assault himself against any position, attempting to beat me, while he preserved his front against Heth.

If General Heth could by means of my diversion,

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