to have all the cotton and naval stores in New Berne burned. I asked him by what authority he gave the order. His reply was that it came from headquarters. I then told him it should be executed, and ordered Major Woodfin to make a detail of men to do so, which he promptly did, and left my command for the purpose of executing the same.
I remained with my command halted until the cars left the depot and the enemy were shelling the town, several shells falling near my battalion. I then ordered a retreat, which was continued until some one in the rear gave the order to "Gallop, march." The men then became somewhat excited. I sent back to ascertain who gave the order, but could not find out who gave it, but immediately heard that the enemy were pursuing us with 700 cavalry. Captain Randolph rode up to me and informed me that he had heard that we were pursued with cavalry, and asked me if I did not intend making a stand. I replied that I did intend doing so, and sent him on ahead for the purpose of selecting a suitable place. I was informed there was a bridge some 2 miles ahead, at which place we halted with the intention of giving them battle. Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson then rode up where I was, and I directed him to take his position in the battalion and assist me, as I intended making a stand to resist the 700 cavalry that I understood was in pursuit. He replied that he did not believe that there was any cavalry in pursuit. He replied that he did not believe that there was any cavalry in pursuit, and that he was ordered to Goldsborough, or had to go to Goldsborough to see General Gatlin. I then told him if he had to go, to go along. He then said to me that I had better form a rear guard to cover the retreat and take command of it myself, and that he should report to General Gatlin that I had done so. He then left. I then ordered 20 men to the bridge and rode along the line and cautioned my men to be cool.
During our halt at the bridge Captain Hays came up with his command, and I invited the captains and lieutenants in command of the companies, with Colonel Crossan, to hold a consultation, and their conclusion was that it would be better for us to proceed on to Kinston that night, for fear of the enemy coming up the river and burning the bridge at Kinston, thereby cutting off our retreat. I then ordered Captain Hays to take command of the rear guard and I took command of the front myself. We continued our retreat to Kinston, arriving there between 11 and 12 o'clock at night.
All the officers under my command, so far as I could discover, obeyed my orders promptly and acted with coolness.
I have submitted one report showing the loss of my horses and baggage. Since that time I succeeded in recovering several of my horses that were missing.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
S. B. SPRUILL,
Colonel Nineteenth Regiment North Carolina State Troops.
Brigadier General L. O'B. BRANCH,
Kinston, N. C.
No. 24. Report of Colonel Zebulon B. Vance, Twenty-sixth North Carolina Infantry.
HDQRS. TWENTY-SIXTH Regiment NORTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Kinston, N. C., March 17, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report, in accordance with military usage, the share of my command in the operations of last Friday.