advancing up the railroad, and sent forward to support him the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Regiments, and subsequently the Third. The Fifth I formed on the left in the wood, commanding a road running down from a mill on the other side of the railroad. Discovering the appearance of troops near there, I sent forward a company of skirmishers from the Fifth Regiment, who reported that cavalry and infantry were in sight within the wood but retired as they advanced. The bridge across the Neuse was soon seen to be on fire, and orders came to destroy as much of the road as possible. This being accomplished and the firing having ceased we received orders to form column and follow the main column en route to New Berne. Four regiments had already formed and passed, most of them across the creek, in their usual and regular order of march, leaving the Fifth to support the battery.
At this time a detachment of the Third New York Cavalry coming up moved down toward the burning bridge, a few approaching its immediate vicinity. The latter were fired upon apparently by a regiment of the enemy from the edge of the wood near the bridge. The cavalry then moved quickly to the brow of the hill, followed by Captain Morrison's battery, which had been stationed midway between the crest of the hill and the bridge. Two or three regiments (three colors were seen) then emerged from the wood and quickly formed a line of battle just behind the railroad track. Captain Morrison's battery then opened a rapid fire upon them with shell, grape, and canister. A portion of the enemy instantly, with loud cheers, charged up the hill toward the battery, and bore up steadily in the face of a well-directed and most destructive fire.
I immediately ordered the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment to support Morrison's battery, and recalled the regiments that had retired across the creek, and ordered up Belger's battery, which had been assigned to me on account of its having more ammunition left than Riggs'. Warned by the rapid fire of the battery and by the cheers of the enemy they came up rapidly, whereupon I posted the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Regiment on the left to prevent a flank attack in that direction, and placed the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts in support, believing the main attack of the enemy was in this direction, where he was supported by artillery. On the right I disposed the Third Massachusetts Regiment to resist a flank movement in that direction, and the Forty-sixth Massachusetts was held in reserve so as to be readily available to support the weakest portion of the line.
The enemy meanwhile had been staggered by the crushing fire of the batteries, and at sight of my supporting regiments broke and fled in disorder to the wood. His retreat was covered by a heavy fire from the battery on his right, which inflicted on my command a loss of 3 killed and 19 wounded.
Hereupon I ordered the Twenty-seventh Regiment to file into the wood and to approach the enemy's left and open fire, which they did accordingly. At this time a section of Riggs' battery opened fire from the eminence near the building used as a hospital, and I received orders from General Foster to retire under cover of this fire unless closely pressed by the enemy. The advance of the Twenty-seventh was checked by the fire from Riggs' battery, but the regiment reached a point at which it could put in a few effective volleys. Simultaneously Captain Belger's Rhode Island battery took position near my center and replied to the enemy's battery with good effect, and also shelled the wood that covered his infantry.