A short time before 12 o'clock I was ordered to send five companies of my regiment to the support of Colonel Campbell's brigade, which was at that time hard pressed. I immediately moved the following companies to the designated point: Company C, under Captain Ashcraft; Company B, under Lieutenant Cook; Company E, under Lieutenant Farthing; Company C, under Lieutenant Gillespie, and Company K, under Captain Rosse. Great credit is due to these companies for the promptness and bravery with which they moved under a very heavy fire of artillery and infantry for some 400 yards. A short time road had given away. After a short and spirited contest these companies were ordered by Colonel Campbell to retire, which wad one in good order.
About this time I observed the forces toward our center retreating, but I considered it my duty to hold my position until I was ordered to retreat. Colonel Lee rode toward the center to ascertain the meaning of these movements, and on his return informed me that the center was in full retreat, and directed me at once to fall back. I at once proceeded with my remaining five companies toward the railroad bridge, and at the point where the Beaufort road crosses the railroad I found the five companies which had been sent to the right drawn up in line of battle and awaiting the arrival of the remaining five companies. I inquired of General Branch what I should do with my regiment, and was directed to cross the railroad bridge and form in New Berne across the track. As soon as I reached that point I found this impracticable, for the reason that the houses in that part of the town were built to the water's edge, and I could only have formed a line of battle some 15 feet in length; I therefore moved my regiment to the depot and halted it. I soon afterward saw Colonel Robinson, General Branch's acting assistant adjutant-general, and inquired where he desired me to move my regiment. He directed me to move toward Kinston. I therefore marched my regiment in good order out of New Berne toward Kinston. When we reached the point where the Kinston road intersects the railroad an alarm was raised by some of the cavalry that the enemy's cavalry were in pursuit. Finding a number of men (not in my command) throwing away their guns, I rode to the rear and informed them that it was a false alarm, and begged them to keep the road and act like men. I remained at that point until near sundown, when I proceeded to Tuscarora Depot, 8 miles from New Berne. During the night the troops were brought by railroad to Kinston.
The men under my command behaved with great coolness and deliberation during the entire day, retreated in good order, and brought with them all their guns and ammunition. We could easily have saved our baggage if we had wagons, but having only two small vehicles, I knew it was useless to attempt it. It was, however, all burned, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
When our regiment was ordered to retreat the enemy had crossed the breastworks in the center and in three minutes would have had us completely cut off.
Most of the missing have since been heard from and will rejoin the regiment.*
WILL. M. BARBOUR,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Thirty-seventh Regiment, N. C. Troops.
*Nominal list of casualties omitted; embodied in tabular statement, p.247.