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The fight near Falmouth

[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Caroline County, April 21st
Thinking it will be interesting to some of your readers, I will give you the details of the handsome little engagement which took place on the morning of the 18th near Falmouth, just before the vandals took possession of the country north of the Rappahannock. On Thursday, the 17th, about two o'clock P. M., Capt. Swann, of the Caroline cavalry, with some forty of the Lancaster cavalry, was on picket above Yellow Chapel, about 10 miles from Fredericksburg, in Stafford, on the Fauquier road, when his videttes reported some Yankee cavalry were approaching. Captain Swann then advanced to meet them, thinking it only a scouting party, and sending four men in advance, when they were pursued by a full company of Yankees, who, when they came in sight of Capt. Swann's squad, thought they were in danger of a large force, retreated, and Capt. Swann seizing the opportunity with his forty Lancaster heroes charged upon them, killing three, including a lieutenant, and wounded seven. Seeing himself almost surrounded by the Yankee cavalry, he fell back to Berea camp, where was Col. Lee with a part of four companies of cavalry, numbering in the aggregate 260 men, about one-half of whom were raw recruits and badly armed. Col. Lee then fell back to within one mile-of-Falmouth. It then being after dark, the men picketed their horses and rested. Col. Lee sent to Fredericksburg and got four companies of Col. Brockenbrough's regiment, who joined us about 10 P. M. He then, after posting a few pickets, sent scouting parties to Berea, who reported the enemy there; so, about 12 o'clock P. M., Col Lee had the fences on the road in rear of us pulled down and made rail pens across the road in front of us. He then placed two companies of infantry on either side of the road, commanding a crossfire on the approaching road, and a company of cavalry immediately in rear of them, and threw out one company to the right and one to the left, some half mile, to deploy as skirmishers. We occupied that position some hour or two, when, a litte after 3 o'clock A. M., of the 18th, Lieut Lawson, of the Stafford cavalry, who was on picket, rode in under full speed and told Col. Lee that the enemy were upon us. Col. Lee very calmly replied, "We are ready." The feet of the enemy's horse could be heard under full charge, about 300 yards distant. Col. Lee rode up and down the lines very cool, and told the men to be steady and quiet. The words "Steady, men!" "Steady, men!" fell in soft and musical tones from the noble Col. Lee, sounded particularly affectionate and encouraging, just before the deadly conflict of arms.

The enemy came dashing up to our rail pens, when the infantry opened a heavy fire upon them, and the Yankees went helter skelter back. Our brave boys made ready again, loaded their pieces, when for over a mile in the distance we could hear the ungodly yells and shouts of the miserable vandals as they came on in the second charge.--We then heard the rattling of sabres, and as they emerged from the woods their polished steel glistened in the moonlight; then the Yankee command, "Charge!" was distinctly heard. They came up in great fury, but the rail barricades and the well armed shot of our brave fellows of the 40th Virginia regiment soon turned the vandals back again.--We occupied our position some minutes, when they made an effort to surround us. We then fell back in the edge of Falmouth and prepared for them again but they didn't advance.

It was then daybreak, and we marched back to the battle ground. I was one of ten who went to the ground first, when I counted six dead men and nine dead horses lying in and near the road. Others went further, and saw in all eleven dead men and thirteen dead horses. We got eleven saddles, a number of Sharp's carbines, Colt's pistols, and other articles. A man whom we took, mortally wounded, told Col. Lee that they had a full regiment of cavalry, besides infantry and artillery in quite large force; and that they made the rush on us in order to save the bridges on the Rappahannock.

We fell back across the river, and our column had not gotten from Falmouth bridge before the enemy were throwing shells over us. We scarcely had time to burn the bridges when the Falmouth hills were completely lined with Yankee infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Our force then retired. We have since learned, as coming from the enemy, that we killed thirty of their men in the fight.

Such is a true statement of the circumstances, as the writer was present, saw all, and participated in the engagement.

A Member of Capt. Swann's Cavalry.

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