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[574] was the rejoicing thereat, for nothing had been heard from it since the previous Sunday night. The enemy, Tuesday night and all day Wednesday and Wednesday night, hovered all about the command, and picket-skirmishing was almost constantly going on in different directions. Wednesday morning, at about nine o'clock, a large force of cavalry came upon the rear of the column. General Kilpatrick was not unprepared for this, and decided to give them battle. The First Vermont, under Lieutenant-Colonel Preston, ably assisted by Captains Grant and Cummings, and the First Maine, bore the brunt of this fight, which lasted something over an hour; while the Sixth Michigan and other regiments of General Davies's brigade were in position to render whatever assistance might be necessary. Only one charge was made, and that was by company A, First Maine, led on by Captain Estes, A. A. G., and Captain Cole, when five of the enemy were captured. The enemy, satisfied no doubt, that they could not scare the command away, silently retired, but when the command moved forward, harassed the rear and flanks. Several times an offer was made, but they refused to accept the offer of battle. On this day (Wednesday) several refugees from Richmond came into camp, and reported the presence of Captain Wilson, of the Second Ohio, who had escaped from the Richmond bastile, near at hand. For some reason, however, best known to himself, he did not join the command. Wednesday, also, Lieutenant Whitaker was sent to destroy Tunstall's Station, on the White-House Railroad, but upon arriving there, much to his astonishment, he found the place in flames. From negroes in the vicinity, he ascertained that a column of Union cavalry from General Butler's department had just left there. This was the first intimation of assistance being so near at hand. Thursday morning, General Kilpatrick moved toward New-Kent Court-House, and on the way met Colonel Spear, in command of a cavalry force, looking after General Kilpatrick's command. The meeting was a gratifying one on both sides. Near New-Kent Court-House, the command came across the first negro troops they had ever seen. Here was a full brigade which had been marched up; and, as the cavalry passed by, cheer after cheer was given by both commands. No brigade ever made a better appearance or a better impression upon those who, for the first time, saw colored troops. A mountain of prejudice was removed in an instant. Between New-Kent to Williamsburgh, the column was more or less annoyed by bushwhackers; ten of these rascals were captured. Of our men, one was killed, several were wounded, and one or two horses were killed.

Colonel Dahlgren, with a picked command, after leaving the main column, went to Frederick Hall, on the Virginia Central Railroad, destroyed that road and the telegraph line, and captured twelve officers who were there on court-martial duty. The James River Canal was then struck eight miles east of Goochland Court-House, between there and Wertham Creek an immense amount of property was destroyed. Six gristmills in full operation, a saw-mill, six canal-boats loaded with grain, several locks of the canal, works at the coal-pits at Manikin's Bend, and the barn of Secretary Seddon, were all destroyed. It was at this point that Colonel Dahlgren discovered that his guide had deceived him, so as to thwart the principal object of the expedition, and he was immediately hanged to the nearest tree. The command then struck the plank-road and moved on to Richmond from a westerly direction, and when within three miles of that city, had a lively skirmish with some rebel infantry. This was late Tuesday afternoon, and about the time General Kilpatrick retired from the Brook turnpike. Could the command have been there three hours earlier, the results of the expedition might have been still more satisfactory than now. Finding the force too large to operate against with any prospect of success, and not knowing the whereabouts or fate of the main column, Colonel Dahlgren decided to fall back, and, if possible, reach that column, destroying property on the way. Colonel Dahlgren and Major Cook, with about one hundred men, went a different route from the main portion of the column, commanded by Captain Mitchell. The latter came in on Wednesday, as stated above; but of the other command nothing is certainly known. A prisoner, however, states that a Colonel with one foot had been captured.

The loss of the whole command, by straggling and in every other way, will not probably exceed one hundred and fifty men, and after three days rest, the horses and men will be ready for duty again wherever their services may be needed.

Fortress Monroe, Va., Saturday, March 5, 1864.
By referring to the foregoing account, and taking a look at the map, it will be seen that our forces traversed nine different counties now occupied by the enemy, namely, Spottsylvania, Caroline, Hanover, Goochland, Henrico, Louisa, New-Kent, James City, and York. These counties embrace nearly all of the most aristocratic in the State; peopled before the war mainly by families who boasted of their long line of ancestors, the number of their negroes, their broad acres — in fact, where the feudal lords reigned supreme both over the white trash and the negro in bondage. The condition of this section of the country, which has been under almost uninterrupted rebel sway for three years cannot be otherwise than interesting. In riding through these counties, the stranger is painfully impressed with the Sundaylike stillness that everywhere prevails; at the large number of dilapidated arid deserted dwellings, the ruined churches with windows out and doors ajar, the abandoned fields and workshops, the neglected plantations, and the ragged, dejected, and uncouth appearance of the few people who are to be seen at home; the almost entire absence of men and boys, every thing indicating a condition of affairs which nothing but civil war could produce. Our troops

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Kilpatrick (4)
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