I am happy to inform you that although the original plan for the capture of the three regiments foraging in that section was, owing to the condition of the roads, frustrated, the expedition will be of great service to our cause in this department.
The First Brigade, under the command of Colonel T. J. C. Amory, together with the artillery, cavalry, and wagon train, was marched from this point across the country to Washington. The balance of my forces, including the Second Brigade, Colonel Stevenson, and the Third Brigade, Colonel Lee, were embarked on transports and landed at Washington, where they were joined by Colonel Amory's command on Saturday evening, the 1st instant.
On Sunday (the 2nd) all the forces, amounting to 5,000 men, including twenty-one pieces of artillery, left Washington under my command for Williamston. On the evening of the same day we encountered the enemy, posted in a strong position at a small creek, called Little Creek. I immediately ordered Colonel Stevenson, commanding the Second Brigade, who was then in the advance, to make all haste in driving them from the opposite side of the creek, and push on at once. The engagement lasted for one hour, when the enemy, being driven from their rifle-pits by the effective fire of Belger's Rhode Island battery, retired to Rawle's Mill, 1 mile farther on, where they made another stand in a recently-constructed field work. Belger's battery and two batteries of the Third New York Artillery were immediately ordered into position, and, after a spirited engagement of half an hour succeeded in driving the enemy from their works and across a bridge which they burned. That night, while the pioneers rebuilt the burned bridge, the forces bivouacked on the field and proceeded the next morning to Williamston, where we arrived about noon. We started from there, after a short rest, in pursuit of the enemy, bivouacking about 5 miles from that place.
On the following day we day we reached and occupied the fortifications at Rainbow Banks, 3 miles below Hamilton, and then pushed on to Hamilton. Here we expected to find some iron-clad boats said to be in process of construction at hamilton, but discovered nothing of the kind.
On the 6th left Hamilton in pursuit of the enemy toward Tarborough, and encamped on the same night within 10 miles of that place. It was my intention to pursue the enemy to tarborough, but the exhausted condition of my men, most of whom had been sick during the last two months and had not yet recovered their strength, and the provisions being entirely exhausted so that I had to subsist the command by foraging, as well as the fact that the enemy were being largely re-enforced by railroad, changed my plans, and on the following morning (the 7th instant) I countermarched the column, reaching Hamilton the same night, where we remained until the next morning, when we marched for Williamston in the midst of a severe snow-storm. At Williamston we remained a day in order to give the men an opportunity to rest.
At daylight the next day (10th instant) we started for Plymouth, where we arrived that night.
The following day the troops were all re-embarked for New Berne.
During the engagement at Rawle's Mill and at Hamilton we captured 5 prisoners, who were paroled at Williamston. The loss on our side consisted of 6 killed and 8 wounded.
The expedition wa instrumental in saving the town and forces at Plymouth from destruction and capture, as I found upon my arrival at the place that the enemy's forces while lying in the vicinity, besides