It is desirable that you move with all you move with all your effective force and issue strict orders against straggling, marauding, destruction of property, and the wanton practice of firing the woods along the line of march.
Communicate frequently with these headquarters.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. WESSELLS,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
I immediately ordered the necessary rations prepared for the march, and at 8 o'clock on the evening of April 13 reached Foster's Wharf, and the brigade crossed over the Neuse River. At 11 o'clock we reached the old rebel fort 1 mile beyond Fort Anderson and bivouacked for the night.
At daybreak on the morning of April 14 the brigade took its line of march toward the New Hope School-House, which place we reached early in the forenoon. Having marched 10 miles I halted the column to allow the men to rest and prepare their dinner, after which I carefully examined by strong detachments all the roads leading to this place for a distance of 7 or 8 miles, except the one leading to Swift Creek.
After the return of the various detachment, it being late in the day and the men considerably fatigued, I ordered the brigade to bivouac for the night.
There was no enemy in any force on any of the roads examined except pickets, 5 or whom I captured, 3 of them belonging to Claiborne's cavalry and 2 of them to Whitford's battalion. It was my intention to have moved on toward Swift Creek Village and attack the enemy at that place, but before reaching Little Swift Creek I received the following explanatory instructions from the general commanding:
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Berne, N. C., April 14, 1863.
SIR: I am directed by the general commanding to inform you that it will be impossible to send you more cavalry. The general is afraid that you may have misunderstood his orders. His desire is that you should simply make a through reconnaissance, not an attack, and that you should be particular to keep your rear strongly protected so in case you want additional supplies it will not be necessary to sent a guard with the train. Each road in your rear should be left strongly guarded. The general desires you to communicate with him in writing as often as possible.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN R. ANDERSON,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
At daylight on the morning of April 15 the brigade moved toward Swift Creek by the old road across Little Swift Creek. I found the road blockaded and the brigade over the creek destroyed. I commenced a reconstruction of the bridge, but before I had completed it I received an order from General Wessells to return to New Berne, which I did that night.
I gained on this reconnaissance no additional information in regard to the position and force of the enemy, all the proofs establishing their strength, as heretofore reported, from 18,000 to 25,000, and chiefly encamped at and near Swift Creek Village, the cross-roads in front of Washington, at Blount's Creek, and on the north side of Washington.
The brigade on reaching Fort Anderson bivouacked for the night and remained there until April 18.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. B. SPINOLA,
Colonel SOUTHARD HOFFMAN, A. A. G., Eighteenth Army Corps.