The hospital at Portsmouth is being prepared for the reception of patients, and I expect to send there on Thursday next the requisite number to fill it. The diseases incident to this climate are of such a debilitating nature that all cases require the tonic of salt air to recuperate. I had the honor to send you, under date the 28th instant, a brief report of several reconnaissances ordered by me.
The first, under command of Colonel Lee, of the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, and in command, temporarily, of the First Brigade of my division, consisted of nine companies of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, under Lieutenant-Colonel Sprague; seven companies of the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman; four companies of Third New York Cavalry, under Major Lewis, and Belger's Rhode Island Battery, under Lieutenant Pope. they left Deep Gully, the limit of our pickets, at daylight of Saturday, and marched up the Trend Road, driving in the enemy's pickets as they advanced. Arriving at the fork of the roads (one for leading to Kinston and one to Trenton) we came upon the pickets, at daylight of Saturday, and marched up the Trent Road, driving in the enemy's pickets as they advanced. Arriving at the fork of the roads (one fork leading to Kinston and one to Trenton) we came upon the picket station and surprised them, but were unable to catch them, as they took to their horses, leaving everything behind, and started for Kinston.
At this point a force of four companies infantry, a section of artillery, and a platoon of cavalry were left, the remaining force pushing on for Trenton.
On reaching the bridge over the Trent at this place it was found on fire and a small force of the enemy on the other side. A dash of our cavalry and a volley forced them to leave; the fire was extinguished, the bridge replanned, and the force entered the town without opposition.
After a halt the column was started for Pollocksville, marched till night, camped for the night at a deserted plantation, and started for Pollocksville the next a. m. This place was reached at 10 a. m . and there met the second reconnaissance, under Lieutenant-Colonel Fellows, and consisting of six companies Seventeenth Massachusetts and one company Third Cavalry. This detachment started from their camp the other side of the Trent River Saturday morning at daylight, with orders to march to Pollocksville, building all the necessary bridges on the lien of their march, take and hold Pollocksville until communicated with by Colonel Lee. This they did without opposition, though as the command neared Mill Creek, which it was necessary to cross tol reach Pollocksville, the cavalry vedettes, 4 in number, were fired upon from the bushes, 2 killed, and 2 wounded and taken prisoners. Infantry skirmishers were immediately thrown forward to the right and left of the road by Colonel Fellows, who was at the head of the column some 500 paces in rear. The skirmishers deployed through the swamp and wood on either side of the road, but were unsuccessful in their efforts to find the firing party. The perfect knowledge of all the by-paths, serpentine roads, &c., possessed by these small parties of the enemy, renders pursuit almost hopeless. Colonel Fellows, crossing the creek, commands uniting, under command of Colonel Lee, started for New Berne, and arrived at 10 o'clock Sunday night. The circuit made by Colonel Lee was about 50 miles in circumference.
The third detachment, under Colonel Heckman, of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteers, consisted of five companies of that regiment, two companies Third New York Cavalry, and Battery B of the New York Rocket Battalion, consisting of three pieces. This command started from Newport, the headquarters of this regiment, on picket duty on the