support Captain Hall, and to prevent any force driving him back and occupying the cross-roads in the rear. The main column pushed on about 4 miles and bivouacked for the night. There was some cavalry skirmishing during the day.
On Saturday, the 13th, we again started, leaving the second main road, the one I was on, to the right, and leaving at this intersection the Forty-sixth Massachusetts and one section of artillery (Twenty-fourth New York) to hold the position, and feint on the second main road. We reached Southwest Creek, the bridge over which was destroyed, and the enemy posted on the opposite bank, some 400 strong, with three pieces of artillery. The creek was not fordable, and ran at the foot of a deep ravine, making a very bad position for us. I ordered a battery in as good a position as could be obtained, and under their fire the Ninth New Jersey, which had the advance, pushed gallantly across the creek by swimming, by fragments of the bridge and by a mill-dam, and formed on the opposite bank. At the same time the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania, of General Wessells' brigade, forced a passage by the feeling of trees and fording about half a mile below the bridge, and engaged the enemy's left, who thereupon retired and deserted his breastworks. I had ordered the Twenty-third Massachusetts, of Colonel Amory's brigade, to cross at the mill to support the Ninth New Jersey, and also crossed the remainder of General Wessells' brigade. Colonel Heckman, with the Ninth New Jersey, advanced and was fired upon, when about 1 mile from the creek, with canister and musketry. The regiment charged at double-quick, drove the enemy, took some prisoners, and captured a 6-pounder gun, caisson, &c., complete. General Wessells bivouacked on the farther side of the creek with the Ninth in the advance. The balance of the command, with the artillery, remained on this side of the creek. The Ninth New Jersey; Company K, Third New York Cavalry, and Morrison's battery Third New York Artillery, had quite a skirmish with the enemy, but drove him and encamped for the night. From the south side of the creek I sent a company of cavalry to strike and proceed up the Kinston road, No. 2 (I was on No. 3). The company proceeded up the road toward Kinston, and found the enemy posted by a bridge, which was prepared to be destroyed. The company charged them, and they retired with some loss, destroying the bridge. The enemy's force at this place was estimated at one regiment and four pieces of artillery. Major Garrard, with three companies of cavalry and one gun of Allis' section of artillery, proceeded on a reconnaissance on a road leading to White Hall. After following this road about 10 miles, and having met with no opposition, they rejoined the main column.
Sunday, the 14th instant, I advanced the column, and when about 1 mile from Kinston encountered the enemy in strong force. They were posted in strong position in the wood, taking advantage of the ground, which formed a natural breastwork. Their position was secured on their right by a deep swamp and their left was partially protected by the river. The Ninth New Jersey was deployed as skirmishers, and General Wessells' brigade, with Morrison's battery Third New York Artillery, was ordered to advance to the right and left of the road, the battery being sent to our extreme right supported by one of General Wessells' regiments. Colonel Amory's brigade was then advance, the Seventeenth Massachusetts Volunteers being sent to support Colonel Heckman on the right, and two regiments (Twenty-third and Forty-fifth Massachusetts) advanced up the road. My artillery (three batteries) I posted in a large field on the right of the road and about three-fourths of a mile in rear of our line of attack, the only position they could be