struct over Mill Creek, at 2.15 p.m., and bivouacked on
Creek, at McDaniel's plantation, at 4 p.m., at which place the train did not get fully up till near 12 o'clock at night. Leaving the train parked here, guarded by the Third Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers and a section of Riggs' battery, the column marched at 6.30 o'clock next morning lowed by the voltigeurs, where I joined them immediately, sending back to halt the main body 2 miles in rear.
At 10 a.m. I sent from Trenton to General Spinola and Colonel Jourdan, commanding brigades, the message that "the bridges we were ordered to destroy have not been rebuilt since their former destruction; the enemy's cavalry have been scattered by a charge of ours; there is no body of the enemy on this side the Trent, and consequently the column will face-about and return to the wagons." The column marched in returning at 10.15 a.m.
At 11.45 a.m., having obtained all the information I could at Trenton and created the indefinite impression that I was going to Kinston or toward Richlands to look up their cavalry, I withdrew the cavalry to feet, without the limits of the town, and then continued the return march.
I arrived with the main column at McDaniel's at 1.30 p.m., and having previously sent orders to the train to hitch up, marched at 3.15 p.m. by a direct route to Young's Cross-Roads. The cavalry pushed on rapidly with its howitzer, followed more moderately by the voltigeurs. When nearing Young's Cross-Roads Colonel Lewis, being with the advance of the cavalry, discovered, as he supposed, the enemy's picket of two mounted men, and he charged to capture them. They proved to be one Lieutenant Sharp, aide-de-camp to General Whiting, and another lieutenant. Their start being a long one, they got off by plunging into and swimming the White Oak River, to the bank of which they were followed, where they fired upon their pursuers from the opposite side.
A party of cavalry, being sent up the Pollocksville road, drove some foot pickets into the swamp. Darkness came on before the infantry came up. We had withdrawn all but a small guard from the river to lay out the camp, which was to be on ground about a mile distant from the river, and a sentinel at the river being approached in the darkness from the direction of camp by six men, hailed them, at which they halted and cocked their guns. He called, "Turn out the guard," and instantly the persons scattered in the cover. This party was Captain Harris and five of his men, as we afterward learned. As soon as the infantry came up I sent two companies to deploy, under the guidance of Captain Farquhar, United States Engineers, who was directed by me to reconnoiter the river thoroughly in the neighborhood. He ascertained that a log below the bridge was the means that footmen had of crossing. The river was carefully watched for the rest of the night, that no more of the rebels should get back to their quarters. On the opposite side of the river there was a steady light of a small camp bearing southwest by the compass. I could not tell whether it was a bright camp light 5 miles off or a lesser one a mile. The train did not come up till 2.30 o'clock in the night, owing to holes wearing in the road over which the howitzer and caisson charged with the cavalry. One of my permanent orderlies, who happened to be stationed to show the way that the wagons should turn out, reports seeing, during the hour of intensest darkness (perhaps 7 o'clock), previous to the coming up of the infantry, bearing southwest, a light, probably a fire balloon,