No. 27. Report of Colonel Lewis C. Hunt, Ninety-second New York Infantry, of engagement at Kinston, December 14.
HDQRS. NINETY-SECOND NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
December 21, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that my regiment took part in the battle of Kinston, on the 14th instant, as follows:
I was ordered by General Wessells to relieve the Ninth New Jersey, which had for some time been engaged and their ammunition reported as running low. I found them in a heavily-wooded swamp, passed their line of battle, and deployed the regiment as skirmishers. This was done under a heavy fire from the enemy, which, fortunately, passed overhead for the most part on account of the peculiar conformation of the ground and the usual tendency to overfire, but rained down the leaves and branches upon us. The swamp with its thick undergrowth was next to impassable, but the men floundered through the bog-holes, sometimes up to their middle, delivering their fire as they advanced. The point upon which we were operating seemed to be occupied by the enemy in large force, and I moved three companies from the right flank toward the right and front, hoping to find higher ground from which I might make a diversion in support of the main body. I accompanied them, wishing to ascertain the nature of the ground toward the right and whether other troops were assisting in the attack. I found sent my adjutant, Lieutenant Ward, to General Wessells asking for re-enforcements. Returning to the main body I found it had moved off toward the left flank and had charged upon a body of the enemy near the junction of the roads, but was received with such a volley as compelled it to fall back. I then formed my men for another charge upon the enemy directly in front, hoping to gain a ditch near the fence which we might hold until re-enforced. I directed my men to run up in line without firing, which the enemy no sooner perceived than they poured in a volley which indicated a force of five times our number, but which, as before, passed mainly overhead.
My men were now completely exhausted with their two hours' work in the swamp. We had tried to get a foothold to the front and on both flanks but had failed for want of numbers. The enemy were reported to me by several as passing our right flank, and I judged it best to draw back to the higher ground in our rear where I knew the One hundred and third Pennsylvania to have been posted. Here I received through yourself authority from General Wessells to direct the movements of the several regiments in the neighborhood. Having had the opportunity of getting a good knowledge of the position and its requirements, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell, whose regiment (the One hundred and third Pennsylvania) was nearly twice as strong as mine, to advance through the swamp directly to the front, occupy the ditch, and, if possible, pass on beyond the fence. The men were fresh and went forward gallantly to the task before them, which I lightened as much as possible by sending forward the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania, Colonel Howell, lying in the wood near by, and pointed out the direction of attack. I presumed that my adjutant had returned to the right flank with the re-enforcements I had sent him for, and so, while my men were resting in support of a section of Morrison's battery and on the ground previously occupied by the