NEW BERNE, N. C., April 9, 1863-8 a. m.
Brigadier General F. B. SPINOLA,
United States Volunteers:
GENERAL: Yours, written at 11 p. m. yesterday, I have received. An hour before I received your letter I heard from Captain McCann, commanding the gunboats on the river near blockade, the same information concerning the force position of the enemy. Your suggestions as to the mode of relief for Washington, taking all things into consideration, appear to be good. I cannot trammel you with orders. Your suggestions as to the mode of relief for Washington, taking all things into consideration, appear to be good. I cannot you with orders. Your good judgment must dictate your course. Your suggestion concerning the transportation and the wagons to be forwarded shall be adopted.
Very respectfully, yours,
I. N. PALMER,
On the morning of April 9 I moved back from Little Swift Creek to ward the New Hope School-House, which I reached at 9 o'clock, halt the column, fed the artillery horses (the forage having just reached me at this point), and at 10 o'clock started for Blount's Creek, a distance of 11 miles, which place I reached at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. After marching 2 miles we met and exchanged fire with the enemy's pickets, which was continued until we reached the cross-roads 1 mile from Ruff's Mill, which is located near the head of the creek. I here halted the column for about fifteen minutes while I made a reconnaissance of the approaches to the bridge which led over the creek. I here found the enemy in force and strongly intrenched. I moved forward Colonel Amory's brigade, with two 32-pounder howitzers under the command of Lieutenant Folk, and the 12-pounder Napoleon battery under command of Captain Belger. The approaches to the creek by the main road were through a dense wood with marsh on the left, the ground to the right being a little higher but heavy timber, while the edge of the stream could not be reached owing to its swampy nature, together with the growth of heavy timber and underbrush which rendered it impassable, so that it was impossible to reach the creek below the bridge except toward its mouth, a distance of 5 or 6 miles, and there it could not be crossed without the aid of pontoon bridges of flats decked over, neither of which I had been provided with.
As we approached, the enemy opened fire on the column from the opposite bank of the creek and the engagement was immediately commenced by Company-, Third New York Cavalry, Captain Pond, which was dismounted and deployed as skirmishers, with a mountain howitzer under command of Lieutenant Burke, the howitzer and cavalry being under the direction of Major Garrard, Third New York Cavalry. The advance skirmishes was also engaged at the same time with the cavalry and howitzers companies.
The enemy on the opposite bank of the creek, which is not fordable and cross only by a brigade which they had rendered impassable by tearing off the planking, were concealed on the higher ground occupied tearing off planking, were concealed on the higher ground occupied by them. i accordingly had the skirmishers, the howitzer, and cavalry companies withdrawn, and opened fire with canister from the two 32-pounder howitzer, to which I soon added four pieces of Belger's battery, the enemy replying in the same manner with grape, canister, and shell. The engagement continued for an hour and three-quarters in this way.
Having silenced the enemy's guns and dismounted one of them, and finding it utterly impossible under the circumstances to cross the creek, I order the infantry to fall back and the artillery gradually with-drawn, with a squadron of cavalry in their rear.
No property of any description was left behind. The return march