in burning the railroad bridge. Several brigades were afterward passed over the county bridge. They attacked and drove the enemy back and saved the county bridge. The enemy were in very large numbers, their second position was a very strong one; night was at hand; only a portion of the troops from Richmond had arrived; none of the artillery and none of the cavalry from their Richmond or Petersburg. I did not consider it advisable to attack them again. The enemy retired during the night. The few mounted we have (about 60) have been sent out to ascertain their position and probable intentions. It was supposed that the whole force of the enemy was present. The force was certainly over 15,000. Without cavalry it is almost impossible to obtain accurate or prompt information of the enemy's movements or numbers. They are burning mills and houses and devastating the country in every direction. We have not transportation sufficient even for ammunition. I shall move as soon as possible.
G. W. SMITH,
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS, Goldsborough, N. C., December 29, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose copies of the reports of Brigadier-Generals Evans, Robertson, and Clingman, giving an account of the various affairs with the enemy in the vicinity in their recent bridge-burning and pillaging expedition from New Berne.
Brigadier-General Evans, with 2,000 men, held them in check at Southwest Creek, beyond Kinston, on the 13th,and on the 14th delayed their advance for some time and succeeded in withdrawing his force with small loss to the left bank of the Neuse River at Kinston. He held them at bay until the 16th, when they advanced on the opposite side of river and made an attack at White Hall Bridge, about 18 miles below Goldsborough, in which they were driven back by General Robertson with severe loss. Small re-enforcements arrived from Petersburg, and Wilmington on the 15th, one regiment of which was placed in position to cover the railroad bridge over the Neuse, near this place. A battalion of artillery, which had made a successful retreat from the works at the obstructions below Kinston after the enemy occupied the latter point in force, was stationed on this side of the river at the railroad bridge, and about half a mile above at the county bridge. On the 16th a regiment arrived from Wilmington and one from Petersburg, both of which were sent to the right bank of the river and placed under General Clingman's command to protect the two bridges.
On the morning of the 17th, having no cavalry and being unable to obtain information by other means, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens, of the Engineers, with two brigades and five pieces of artillery, to make a reconnaissance for the purpose of ascertaining the position and numbers of the enemy. General Evans' brigade had then reached Goldsborough by rail, and, remaining on board, only awaited the clearing of the track and watering of the engines to move by rail to the position already occupied by General Clingman with his three regiments, about 1/2 miles beyond the railroad bridge. The capacity of the water-tanks being inadequate for the amount of transportation accumulated here at that time, the cars were delayed until after 12 o'clock for want of water pending which the enemy appeared in force before General Clingman's