On the 20th inst. the enemy advanced in three columns, since ascertained to have been twelve regiments of infantry, nine of white and three of black, estimated at 8,000, and some artillery, number of guns unknown, and 1,400 cavalry. At noon the enemy were within 3 miles of my position. I ordered the cavalry under Colonel Smith, Second Florida cavalry, supported by the Sixty-fourth Georgia, Colonel Evans commanding, and two companies of the Thirty-second Georgia, to advance and skirmish with the enemy and draw them to our works. The remaining force was placed under arms and prepared for action. Apprehending that the enemy was too cautious to approach our works, I ordered Brigadier-General Colquitt, commanding First brigade, to advance with three of his regiments and a section of Gamble's artillery and assume command of the entire force then ordered to the front, and feel the enemy by skirmishing, and if he was not in too heavy force to press him heavily. I had previously instructed Colonel Smith, commanding cavalry, to fall back as our infantry advanced and protect their flanks. This movement was predicated on the information that the enemy had only three regiments of infantry, with some cavalry and artillery. Perceiving that in this movement the force under Brigadier-General Colquitt's command might become too heavily engaged to withdraw without a large supporting force, and intending that if the enemy should prove to be in not too great strength to engage them, I ordered in quick succession, within the space of an hour, the whole command to advance to the front as a supporting force, and myself went
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