No. 26. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Abijah J. Wellman, Eighty-fifth New York Infantry, of engagement at Kinston, December 14.
HDQRS. EIGHTY-FIFTH REGIMENT NEW YORK VOLS.,
New Berne, N. C., December 22, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that at the engagement before Kinston, which occurred on the 14th instant, the Eighty-fifth New York Volunteers participated in the following manner:
Pursuant to an order received from General Wessells the aforesaid regiment was led to the right of the position which was occupied by the Union forces during the earlier stages of the battle, and reported to Colonel Heckman, of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteers, as his support, at 11 a.m. In accordance with instructions from Colonel Heckman my regiment was then moved to the extreme right, for the purpose of a flank demonstration. After proceeding 500 yards, preceded by two companies of my command deployed as skirmishers, a regiment of the enemy was discovered 200 yards in advance, drawn up behind a fence at the edge of the wood in which we were. My skirmishers moved quietly to the right of the regiment and opened a brisk fire upon the enemy, which was returned without effect. While the attention of the latter was thus engaged my own line advanced quickly and poured in a volley, at which the enemy fled in confusion, some of them across an open field exposed to our fire.
Subsequently my regiment was directed to support the Ninety-sixth New York Volunteers in an advance upon the bridge, where the lamented Colonel Gray received a mortal wound. My line was formed, immediately on our arrival at the bridge, along the bank of the river with the left resting at the bridge, which was being swept by grape and canister together with musketry from the opposite bank. A hot fire from both sides continued for twenty minutes. After the enemy's guns had been silenced and their forces dispersed, men from Captain Jenney's battery, the Ninth New Jersey Volunteers, and my own regiment extinguished the flames of the burning bridge. The Ninth New Jersey Volunteers then crossed over closely followed by the Seventeenth Massachusetts, which latter regiment had just at that moment arrived and had not participated in the capture of the bridge. Immediately after the latter regiment followed my own, which thus had the honor of being the first of General Wessells' brigade which gained the opposite bank.
We captured between 20 and 30 prisoners, besides a quantity of small-arms.
I take pleasure in adding that both officers and men, without an exception, displayed much bravery and coolness.
I am, very respectfully and truly, your obedient servant,
A. J. WELLMAN,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Eighty-fifth New York Vols.
Captain ANDREW STEWART,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Wessells' Brigade.