While in temporary command of the post of New Berne, on Thursday, my regiment was ordered to Croatan works, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Burgwyn, to assist Colonel Sinclair's regiment should the enemy land below those works.
Learning soon after that Colonel Campbell was at this post, I instantly transferred to him my temporary command and proceeded to Croatan to assume command of my regiment. When near there I met Colonel Sinclair retreating, who informed me that the enemy were landing in force at Fisher's Landing, and nearer still to the works I met Colonel Campbell, who had just ordered my regiment to take the cars and return to Fort Thompson. Before my return they had been posted by Lieutenant-Colonel Burgwyn in the series of redans constructed by me, on the right of the railroad, in the rear of Bullen's Branch, extending from the railroad to the swamp, about 500 yards from the road, by Weathersby's.
At this road, as you will remember, I had constructed the night before a breastwork commanding the passage of the swamp, with the assistance of Mr. --- Hawks, a gentleman whose skill in engineering, untiring energy, and zeal I take pleasure in noticing favorably; and there was placed a section of Captain Brem's artillery, lieutenant Williams commanding, and Captain McRae's company of infantry, with a portion of the companies of Captains Hays and Thomas, Second North Carolina Cavalry, dismounted.
About 2 o'clock Friday morning, in compliance with orders received, I pushed companies B, E, and K of my right wing across the small swamp alluded to, so as to make my extreme right rest on the battery at the Weathersby road.
This was our position on Friday morning, which remained unchanged during the day, except that two companies of the Thirty-third Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hoke, came to my assistance about 9 o'clock, which were placed in the redans vacated by my right companies which were thrown beyond the swamp. You will perceive that my forces covered almost as much ground as all the rest of our troops together. Taking my own position near the center, a little nearer to the right, under Lieutenant-Colonel Burgwyn, about whose position I was considerably uneasy, owing to the unfinished state of our works there, I placed the left under the command of Major Carmichael and awaited the engagement. It began on my left wing about 7.50 o'clock, extending toward my right by degrees until about 8.30 o'clock, when all the troops in my command were engaged so far as the swamp referred to. The severest fighting was on my extreme left, the enemy advancing under shelter of the woods to within easy range of our lines. Whenever they left the woods and entered among the fallen timber of the swamp in our front they were driven back in confusion by the most deadly and well-directed fire from our lines who, with the grates coolness, watched for their appearance.
The fight was kept up until about 12 o'clock, when information was brought to me by Captain J. T. Young, my quartermaster, who barely escaped with life in getting to me, that the enemy in great force had turned my left by the railroad track of Woods' brick-yard, had pillaged my camp, were firing in reverse on my left wing, and were several hundred yards up the railroad between me and New Berne; also that all the troops on the field were in full retreat, except my command. This being so, there was no alternative left me but to order an immediate retreat or be completely surrounded by an overwhelming force. Without hesitation I gave the order. My men jumped out of