War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0224 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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road, and a half a mile to the right of the latter, on the river Neuse, a deserted earthwork was discovered by Lieutenant Reno, aide-de-camp to the general. Company H, under Captain Frazer, with the colors, was detached from the regiment, and under charge of General Reno visited the work, and waving the Star-Spangled Banner, bearing the honorable inscription "Roanoke, February 8, 1862," and the spotless white colors of Massachusetts, with the noble motto, "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem," gave three hearty cheers and hastily rejoined the advancing regiment. Proceeding along the railroad about a mile farther, the advance guard came upon a building containing several tents, a complete set of artillery harness, and few boxes of ammunition for 6 and 12 pounder guns. Lieutenant Barker, with Adjutant Stearns, then made a reconnaissance to the right of the railroad, and found an extensive encampment, also recently evacuated by rebel cavalry, where were large quantities of clothing, commissary stores, and hospital stores, over which a guard was placed. One mile farther on the regiment bivouacked for the night, throwing out a picket guard of two companies on the front and left, the right being guarded by the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers and the rear by the Fifty-first New York Volunteers. The rain, which commenced to fall about 10 o'clock of the 13th instant, continued in showers throughout the night, and on the morning of the 14th mist and fog enveloped everything. Notwithstanding every precaution on the part of both officers and men very many of the rifles were rendered quite unserviceable by the moisture. In some the powder became too wet to ignite, and in very many of the Enfield rifled muskets the rammers were almost immovable from the swelling of the stocks. It is a great defect in this weapon that the friction of the wood along the whole length of the rammer is relied upon to keep it in place, since it is quite impossible that the rammers be well secured when the musket is dry and sufficiently loose for service when wet. It is a noteworthy evidence of discipline and courage on the part of the men that more than 50 went into the battle having only their bayonets to work with, and it was very hard to hear them, in the thickest of the fight, while standing helpless in their places, beg their officers to give them a serviceable musket, and to see them eagerly seize the weapons of their comrades as fast as they fell beneath the leaden storm from the enemy's earthworks. Private Sheehan, of Company E, left his company to secure the musket of a man whom he saw killed in Company K, and when asked by Major Rice why he did not take the gun of the one who had been shot in his own company replied that it was like his own, good for nothing.

About 7 o'clock a. m. General Reno ordered his brigade forward, the Twenty-first Massachusetts in the van. The advance guard, consisting of Company G, was led by Corporal Stratton, who deserves much credit for his coolness and intrepidity in pushing on through swamps and thickets and along the track of the railroad both on the 13th and 14th instant, every moment exposed to be fired upon by a concealed foe. Adjutant Stearns directed the movement of the first two squads of the advance guard in the most admirable manner during the entire march from the place of landing to the field of battle. As it was known that the defenses of the enemy were thrown across the highway to the right of the railroad, the regiment proceeded cautiously through the woods on the left of the railroad and parallel with it. After advancing about half a mile a locomotive was seen coming down the road, and General Reno at once ordered us to file to the left and advance into the forest, which was no longer a level, open pine wood,