in the rear by the forces above named on Ruff's farm, and would also be harassed on my left flank by the forces stationed on the Kinston roads. In case I fail to drive the enemy from the cross-roads near Washington and am compelled to retreat it can only be done with a large sacrifice, if at all. From all the information I have received it establishes the strength of the enemy not less than 20,000, under Hill, Pettigrew, and Garnett. The majority of the information fixes the enemy's strength at 22,000, and it is therefore supposable that we will have to encounter at least 10,000 under Hill at the cross-roads near Washington, that being the main position of the enemy. It appears to me now that the only possible successful way to relieve the garrison is to take the battery at Hill's Point, and in that way raise the blockade.
We are constructing the bridge over Little Swift Creek to-night.
I shall have a consultation to-night with the brigade commanders, artillery, and cavalry. It is my intention to start from here in the morning for Blount's Creek, and engage the enemy there, and drive the, if possible, beyond the battery on Hill's Point with a view of taking it. Should I not be successful I shall retreat to Fort Anderson, as I am satisfied it is utterly impossible to march on Washington by the Swift Creek route without endangering my entire command. In the event to convey the command across the Neuse River. Send forward immediately the forage wagons and wagons with officers' baggage; the other wagons leave till you hear further from me.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. P. SPINOLA,
Brigadier General I. N. PALMER.
HEADQUARTERS GENERAL SPINOLA'S COMMAND, NEAR NEW HOPE SCHOOL-HOUSE,
Thursday Evening, April 9, 1863-11.30 o'clock.
GENERAL: I have the honor to communicate that I started at 7 o'clock this morning from Little Swift Creek with my command and marched to Ruff's Mill, at the head of Blount's Creek, a distance of 15 miles. Two miles from this place we met and exchanged fire with the enemy's picket, which was continued till we reached the cross-roads, 1 mile from Ruff's Mill. I followed the enemy with the intention of crossing Blount's Creek, in order to make may way to Washington, as I have already indicated in my last letter to you. I found, however, the enemy's position almost impregnable, owing to the thickness of swamp woods on the north side of the creek, behind which the enemy were 2,000 strong. I will also mention that these earthworks are thrown up close to the bridge, which was destroyed by the enemy previous to my arrival there. The earthworks were partly dug in the ground and partly thrown up, so that they could only be reached by depressing our pieces. In the enemy's works were six pieces mounted, which I judge to be 12-pounder howitzers, [which] were served with great skill. Behind these fortifications, at a distance of about a half mile, were also 3,000 of the enemy, the whole 5,000 being under the command of General Pettigrew. I also learn from reliable sources that the roads from Blount's Creek to Washington and Hill's Point are entirely occupied by the enemy, and I learn by positive evidence that there are two brigades encamped at and near the cross-roads in front of Washington, under the immediate