War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0202 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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column for the purpose of reconnoitering the positions of the enemy. I detailed my aides Lieutenants Pell and Fearing to accompany him, and requested him to call on General Foster for two of his aides, and Lieutenants Strong and Pendleton were detailed to accompany him.

The six naval boat howitzers, under command of Lieutenant McCook, having landed, I ordered a detail of a regiment from General Reno's brigade to assist in hauling them over the road, which was so bad that it was impossible for them to be dragged by the gunners. The Fifty-first Pennsylvania was detailed for this service. I then moved on to the head of the column, and found it had reached the first intrenchment at Otter Creek, some 6 miles up, which had been deserted by the enemy. Captain Williamson, having discovered this fact and previously reported it to General Foster, proceeded on with his party to make a further reconnaissance. After obstructing the railroad at this point, I ordered General Foster to move up the main county road with his brigade and General Reno to move his brigade up the railroad, leaving orders for General Parke to follow with his brigade up the county road. Soon after starting the columns Captain Williamson reported to me that a line of breastworks, broken by a redan for field pieces, along the bank of the river a mile in advance, had also been deserted by the enemy. I visited this work, accompanied by Generals Foster and Reno, where we communicated with the fleet.

Overtaking the head of the column, the march was continued until my own staff officers and those of the different brigades who were acting as escort to Captain Williamson came in contact with the enemy's pickets. It then being nearly 8 o'clock, I ordered a halt, and directed General Foster to bivouac on the right and left of the county road in a line at right angles to it, ordering one regiment to occupy the road leading down to the fortifications on the river. General Reno's brigade occupied a corresponding advanced position across the railroad a half mile to the left and General Parke occupied a position immediately in rear of and parallel with General Foster. It rained all night, as it had done during the day, so that our men passed a most cheerless night. The Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, with the naval boat howitzers, under Lieutenant McCook, together with two guns landed from the Cossack and Highlander, under Captains Bennett and Dayton, did not reach my headquarters till 3 o'clock in the morning. Too much praise cannot be awarded to the officers and men who performed this very arduous service, as these eight pieces constituted our entire artillery force during the engagement of the next day.

Soon after leaving the landing I determined not to land the light batteries of Captains Belger and Morris and our wagons at Slocum's Creek, and sent an order to Captain Biggs to move up the river and land them at the deserted intrenchment above the mouth of Otter Creek, but the dense fog that prevailed during the afternoon and night made it impossible to land anything, and it was equally impossible to communicate from shore with the fleet by signals, as agreed upon.

On the following morning I ordered Captain Williamson to move forward and reconnoiter the position of the enemy, which was known to be not far in advance of our pickets, from information obtained during the night from negroes and others, to the effect that they were posted behind a long line of intrenchments leading from the river across the county road to the railroad. The brigades were formed and ordered to advance as follows: General Foster to move up the county road and attack the enemy's front and left, General Reno to move up the railroad and, if possible, turn the enemy's right, and General Parke