War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0322 OPERATION IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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during the fight, the fence which had served so well as a protection by day furnishing excellent fuel for camp-fires at night.

In consequence of the unfortunate delay referred to in the first part of the report it was impossible to carry out the original plan of the expedition. Accordingly, as we had neither provisions nor ammunition enough to do another day's work, the general reluctantly decided to return to his vessels, and, considering that the night was rainy and the men without tents or blankets and that the enemy might receive re-enforcements before daylight from Norfolk, which was only 30 miles distant, and harass us on our return with their cavalry and flying artillery, he resolved to make the march by hight. Orders were therefore issued to built large fires around the battle-field and to provide transportation for such of the wounded as were able to be moved. About 30 of them were unavoidably left behind, in charge of Dr. O. Warren, assistant surgeon of the Twenty-first Massachusetts, who cheerfully remained, subjected to the tender mercies of the rebels. The choice of surgeon for this duty was made by lot. Chaplain Ball labored as usual most assiduously to promote the comfort of the wounded both on the field and at the hospital, and especially on the return to the transports and on the voyage to new Berne, when, in the absence of any surgeon, he kindly dressed their wounds and administered such remedies as their circumstances required.

At 9 o'clock Lieutenant Reno, aide-de-camp, started with the Ninth New York Volunteers to take possession of a draw-bridge near Camden Court-House and prevent its destruction on case the enemy should, attempt it. The other regiments silently left their places in the woods and moved along the road past the hospitals; the wagons, with their wounded, took their position in the center of the column, and the general followed with the Twenty-first Massachusetts as the rear guard.

Company D, under Lieutenant Baker, performed in the most efficient manner the very arduous and unpleasant duty of rear guard to the regiment. Not only wee they obliged to be constantly on the lookout for the enemy, but they were compelled to labor incessantly to urge and assist forward the numerous stragglers who fell out from the various regiments. Between Company and the rest of the Twenty-first Colonel Howard was placed with two howitzers.

A more wearisome march has been seldom made by any troops. The night was dark, the soft, clayey mud from 3 to 12 inches in depth, and the men worn out by the labors of the day, having marched 16 miles and most of them 26, besides passing through the excitement and fatigue of the battle. Nevertheless the greater part of them bore up manfully, and though terribly exhausted moved steadily to the landing, where the head of the column arrived about 5 o'clock in the morning.

I am happy to report that while the Twenty-first was unable to do much damage to the enemy they suffered a comparatively slight loss. Not a man was injured by artillery and but 15 by infantry, owing to our excellent position. Only two others failed to come up with the regiment, although the Twenty-first constituted the rear guard on the return march, and these both fell out before the battle. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the march every rifle taken from the camp was returned to it in good condition, including those of the killed and wounded, except one thrown away by an exhausted man and the two in the hands of the missing men.

On the whole I think I may safely say that nearly every officer, non-