Railroad Bridge, the Ninth New Jersey Regiment, having reported for duty with the brigade, was assigned to that post, with instructions to picket line of railroad and protect it from encroachments of the enemy from the direction of Swansborough. The Fifth Rhode Island Battalion, being thus relieved, joined me on the 4th of April at Carolina City.
On the 29th of March the first troops were crossed to the Banks, and from that time to April 10 every available hour of night and day was spent in transporting men, siege train, and supplies.
During this period of thirteen days I crossed eight companies of the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment; seven companies of the Eighth Connecticut Regiment; the Fifth Rhode Island Battalion; Company C, First United States Artillery; Company I, Third New York Artillery, Captain Ammon commanding, who reported for duty at Carolina City, and the siege train.
Communication was immediately established with the fleet, a signal officer being placed aboard the vessel of the commanding officer.
On the 11th, aided by Captain Williamson, of the Topographical Engineers, Captain Morris, of the Artillery, and Lieutenant Flagler, of the Ordnance, I made a reconnaissance in force in the direction of the fort. Meeting the enemy's pickets, they were driven in after a slight skirmish, and advanced to within a mile of the work, when were placed under cover of the sand hills, while Captains Williamson and Morris and Lieutenant Flagler made a careful examination of the ground in our front, and selected sites for our batteries ranging from 1,300 to 1,700 yards from the fort. The force was then withdrawn, no casualties having occurred from the fire of the enemy. In the reconnaissance we received great assistance from the blockading fleet, Captain S. S. Prentiss commanding. The gunboats engaged the fort and shelled the beach in our front. For this and other timely aid rendered us I desire to express my acknowledgments and thanks.
On the 12th a permanent advance guard of five companies was organized and work on the approaches was commenced. During this day a skirmish occurred with the enemy, in which Captain Sheffield and a private of the Eighth Connecticut Regiment were wounded. The enemy were driven back, and although more than seventy shot and shell were fired on our advance guard and fatigue parties, not a man was injured by them. From this date the regular work on the approaches, trenches, batteries, and rifle pits was vigorously pushed forward by all our available force both night and day, in spite of the desultory fire kept up by the enemy.
The road along the beach being in full view of the lookout on the flag-staff of fort, it became necessary to transport our guns, mortars, and ammunition to the batteries and magazines under cover of the night. The enemy made two ineffectual attempts at night to dislodge us from our advanced position, in one of which Lieutenant Landers and a private of the Fifth Rhode Island Battalion were slightly wounded, and in the other Major Appleman and a private of the Eighth Connecticut Regiment received severe contusions from a discharge of grape while digging rifle pits within 750 yards of the fort.
On the morning of the 24th the two mortar batteries were prepared to open fire, and the Parrott-gun battery was ready, with the exception of the opening of the embrasures, which was delayed until the moment of opening fire was arranged, so that the enemy might not discover our position.