HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Berne, N. C., May 2, 1863.
COLONEL: In accordance with instructions from department headquarters of April 26, 1863, on the morning of the 27th instant I embarked my division upon the cars, and at 3 p. m. all the command were at Batchelder's Creek. The First Brigade, Colonel Amory commanding, was sent forward on the railroad to Core Creek. In accordance with my orders he took possession of the bridge at that point and sent a force immediately across the creek tot eh switch but found nothing. His command bivouacked on the railroad immediately behind the creek, while the remainder of the command, consisting of the brigade of Colonel Lee, the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Jones, one section of Riggs' battery, and a company of the Third New York Cavalry, moved up a cross-road to the Neuse road, and from thence to the Dover-road Crossing of Core Creek, behind which we encamped. thus was the command posted on two different roads, some 2 1/2 miles apart, with a good cross-road connecting.
Immediately after my arrival at the Dover-road Crossing I sent a force across the creek and beyond to feel the enemy's pickets, but the party found nothing.
At midnight it commenced to rain very heavily and continued until noon of Tuesday, the 28th instant. At the conclusion of the storm the whole country seemed flooded - the roads in a horrible condition; still I determined to make a movement on Sandy Ridge so that the enemy might at least be kept on the alert, even if we effected no captures or fought no fight. I felt confident, however, that we should find some of the enemy's troops at the crossing of the Dover road with the railroad, and perhaps some few in the intrenchments at the easterly portion of Sandy Ridge. I therefore ordered the following movements:
Colonel Amory, with two regiments (the Seventeenth Massachusetts Volunteers and the Forty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia), was ordered to march up the railroad as rapidly as possible to the point where the railroad and Dover road cross. I will here say that Colonel Amory, who has been ill for some time, was not able to go with the brigade, inasmuch as it was impossible to march horses on the railroad. He therefore returned to the bivouac, leaving Colonel Codman, of the Forty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers Militia, in command.
Colonel Jones, with his own regiment (the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania and the Twenty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Lyman, one company of the forty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, and two companies of the Third New York Cavalry was ordered forward on the Dover road, the understanding being that the two columns should join hands at the above-mentioned crossing. In accordance with orders from the commanding general the artillery was not taken beyond Core Creek. All the other troops were held in readiness to move in any direction. Colonel Jones moved cautiously, and finding the intrenchments on Sandy Ridge abandoned he pushed on with his column beyond the ridge, seeing nothing of the enemy until the head of the column arrived within 100 yards of the crossing, when he was suddenly saluted with a volley of musketry from the opposite side of the railroad. Supposing that there was a chance the party might be a portion of Colonel Amory's column he took measures to discover the truth, and found the enemy posted in rifle-pits, several hundred feet in length, and entirely concealed in the thick brush. Some 75 yards in rear was found another line of heavy earthworks of some 500 or 600