Ascertaining a few minutes after my arrival that a squadron of cavalry had passed down the road toward New Berne about one hour before, I immediately dismounted my command and posted it, so as to cut off the retreat of the enemy, and sent a messenger to General Foster with the intelligence. He returned with a piece from Belger's battery and permission to remain as long as I thought necessary. I had also been told by a contraband here that the enemy had directed him to draw a load of corn into Kinston for them, threatening to kill him on their return if he did not do it. He was about to do so when I came on the ground.
After lying perdu for one and a half hours I took a small party and reconnoitered in the direction of Kinston, and after proceeding about three-quarters of a mile found a bridge in the midst of an almost impenetrable swamp and broken down, the stringers being cut off. Very naturally concluding that no cavalry force would attempt to return to Kinston on that road I returned to camp and reported as above to the general and yourself.
The next morning (14th instant), upon a written order from General Foster to again proceed to the above-mentioned intersection and "hold and occupy the place," with verbal permission to skirmish across the broken bridge if I found my force sufficient, I proceeded with my command of the day previous, and one piece (3-inch Parrott) from Captain Lee's battery, under Lieutenant Cady, to the intersection, posted the piece on a knoll about one-half mile from and overlooking the broken bridge and a breastwork and rifle-pits, which I had found lay behind the bride on the opposite side of the run, and went forward with 30 cavalry to the point where the road enters the wood, and about 40 rods from the intrenchment. The skirmishers then went forward, under Lieutenant Richardson, through the morass to the run and engaged the enemy's skirmishers on the other side. The range was short, a few yards, and Lieutenant Richardson reported it to have been quite effective . I then (near noon) opened fire with the piece from the knoll, and continued to throw shell into the intrenchment, at short intervals, for about two hours; but finding that the enemy was too well sheltered to be materially damaged at that distance I moved the piece up to the edge of the wood and opened fire with grape and canister at a range of less than 40 rods. About 40 cavalry (mounted) were drawn up in line advance and to the right of the piece, but sheltered by the woods and a slight acclivity. To this the enemy (who up to this time had only engaged the skirmishers) replied from the intrenchment with grape and canister. After exchanging 12 or 15 shots a few of the enemy's infantry appeared about the bridge as though preparing a crossing, and fearing a sudden charge of a superior force on my feebly-supported piece, I ceased firing and sent the piece back to the eminence it before occupied. Very soon the skirmishers reported that they had crossed the run into the intrenchment, found that the enemy had withdrawn, leaving behind a number of muskets (Valley Forge pattern), haversacks, knapsacks, &c.
Previous to this I had sent Lieutenant Richardson to burn a bridge half a mile up the run and on our right flank. This he did without opposition. Captain Lee, of the artillery, having arrived, together with two companies of the Fifth Massachusetts, upon consultation with him it was concluded, from the sound of the musketry, that General Foster had advanced and was at or near the Kinston Bridge. Captain Lee repaired the bridge, with the assistance of the infantry and without tools, in an almost incredibly short time. Cautiously advancing about one-fourth of a mile and no enemy being seen I gave Sergeant Gibbs,